Firsts. There are happy firsts and difficult firsts. My son’s first smile, the first time my husband told me he loved me, the first time I realized I was no longer depressed; those were all great firsts that brought an immensity of joy. The first time my son had a seizure, the first time I was rejected by someone I loved dearly, the first time I realized I was repeating unhealthy parenting patterns; those are incredibly painful memories. Those firsts, the ones I wish had never occurred, those are embedded. The pain associated with them makes their memory rise to the surface so much easier than the happy ones, as if they are permanently tattooed on my brain so I can NEVER forget, no matter how much I might want to.

Grief is a little different. I remember that first Christmas, just three weeks after Daddy died. It was hard, but there’s a film over it, like I’m looking at the memory through a clouded window. I was still numb. I feel the same way about the dinner we had for Mom’s birthday just one month after she’d gone. I remember it, but it’s hazy. And maybe that’s a blessing of grief. It causes the one experiencing the loss to be numb enough to not feel the full weight of all those firsts. They are hard enough.

This is my first Mother’s Day without my mom. In looking through some pictures to share with a family member, I found a Mother’s Day card from Mom and realized I would never receive another one. I would never again receive a card from her telling me all the things she found it hard to verbalize. So, there are also lasts. But we don’t recognize the importance of those until after they have passed and those firsts bring them to our awareness.

I am thinking anew of what it means to live each moment as if it were my last.

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