“Mmm. That feels good,” she whispered.
Yes. Yes, it did. I enjoyed brushing her hair. It was a simple time together, a quiet time, where no words were spoken, but none had to be. It was an action of adoration, love poured out with each journey of the brush through her fine locks. She enjoyed my affection, enjoyed my attention, and I enjoyed her reaction. She wanted me to do it.
One day she wouldn’t ask me. She would just do it herself.
What if this was the last time?
I contemplated the thought while I brushed. Smooth strokes, my hand traveling down to the ends.
“It feels so soft,” I commented.
You never know when something you’re doing may be the last time. It’s easy to take for granted the every day, never realizing it’s to become not again.
I can remember sitting on the couch at my mother’s house visiting. I was about to start a string of -hour shifts at work, and I started getting ready to leave for the night. She asked if I could stay, stay the night, and go to work from her house in the morning.
“I just love having all my chicks in the nest,” she had mused.
I stayed. I slept there on the couch. We watched a movie together, I can’t recall which one. But I do recall how she looked sitting in her chair, the new blanket I had given her for her birthday spread across her lap, the way her face transformed when she laughed at something funny I said.
I never knew, at the time, that moment would be our last, that night my last memory of time together, the last time I would see her smile. I didn’t realize the next time I saw her she would be in a casket, and that her smile would not be the same. I’m glad I stayed that night. Even though I didn’t know it would be the last.
I brushed my daughter’s hair. Downward strokes, soft, shining, beautiful. It wasn’t a morbid thought, like I worried my child might pass from this world any moment, but rather it was a realization of the passage of time. Time. Such a fleeting thing. It went so quickly, so much so that if you didn’t take a breath to enjoy it, it might slip before you were even aware.
Parents died. Babies grew up. Chubby cheeks became defined cheekbones. Plump fingers lengthened into graceful and dexterous joints. Legs lengthened, they learned to crawl, then walk, then run. Sometimes they fell, but one day you’d kiss the very last booboo to make it better, and you’d wonder where your magic went.
Brush, brush, smooth, soft. Downward strokes, one, two, three. Bedtime kisses, morning cuddles, piggyback rides.
This morning I heard her calling to me.
“Momma, Momma,” in the distance she cried.
And when I entered the room I was welcomed by outstretched arms eager to hug their way into my day. I laughed as I tackled her in the warm, dim covers of [the] morning. She giggled while I tickled her with my nose, burying a hug into her ribs.
“Come on,” I invited.
My back to her, hands beckoning, welcoming my long-legged, little lady for a piggyback ride into the living room. She was really too big for me to carry, and I often told her so. But for now, I could. I could still carry her. I could still handle her hopping on my back and hefting her across the house. For now, I could, so I would. You never knew. This could be the last time.
They grow so quick.
The visits with family, worth the time. The memories in the making. Hugging grandma, listening to her words of wisdom. Not rushing off, making excuses, saying “we gotta go.” Instead, hanging on, savoring the time that slipped away so easily and unexpectedly. You never knew when a quick visit could be the last one.
Quick to forgive, slow to anger, easy to love. That’s what life and relationships needed. Letting go of grievance and hurt feelings, in favor of joy and love. You never knew when a much-needed hug would be the last one.
My daughters asked me for help. To reach the high shelf, to pour the drink, to rinse their hair, to find the missing toy. You never knew when a request for assistance would be the last time you’re needed.
“Pick me up.”
Yes. Yes, I will. You never knew when it would be the last.
The last time to dry a tear, the last time to tie a shoe, the last time to sing a lullaby, cut a sandwich in triangles, or wipe up spilled juice. You just never knew.
Brush, brush. All the tangles were gone. But I kept brushing. I savored the silky feel against my fingers, the gentle slope of her pale neck, the glimpses of the stork bite at the nape. One, two, downward strokes. I enjoyed each pass through her locks, I memorized the way her mouth turned up in an expression of enjoyment. It matched my own.