Sometimes you know when you are experiencing something for the last time. When you move out of a house, you know you won’t be coming back. When you graduate you know that phase of life is done.
Sometimes you don’t — when someone dies unexpectedly or you’re fired from your job.
Knowing or not knowing — I don’t know which is better. Sometimes you wish you would have known so you could say things you didn’t get a chance to. Then again, knowing can give you sadness.
A few weeks ago we visited a friend at their vacation home in the mountains. We have been there before. Sometimes we miss a few years between visits. Nothing much changes there, not even the weather which is always cold! (I am personally convinced that one of the bridges we cross takes us to the edge of the North Pole.)
The routine doesn’t change. The early risers are up drinking coffee on the porch. If it’s not warm enough, we are around the fireplace. Both places are magical with extra credit for the porch. We get visiting chipmunks there who are not afraid to run over you to get peanuts.
We talk stuff. All kinds of stuff. Life. Love. Health. Death and even (gasp) politics! Sort of. We are all different but underneath there is a stable set of values that we appreciate in each other.
We all harbor (ok, maybe just me) the belief that someone is wrong occasionally but the common ground is greater and overcomes it.
I’m neurotic about animals. My friend is a hunter but doesn’t kill anything when I am there. It’s a sign of kindness and respect.
We are all getting older (mostly them, certainly not me). Our friends are planning ahead and this may have been our last visit. They are selling the cabin. It changed some things.
It’s like that last day of vacation when you are so intense about taking everything in. You want to live deeply in the moment so your memory stays fresh. You don’t want to miss anything. Was that a blue bedspread or a white one? The quiet of the early morning on the magical porch before everyone is up. The dinners that are always late because…it doesn’t matter. Always way too much food.
This isn’t an end to a friendship. It not’s about us. We will continue see them. We will continue to be friends. It’s about keeping a memory fresh.
I can still remember in detail the beach house we rented with our siblings for those wonderful end of summer get togethers a few years back. They can’t happen again but I have my memories. I knew the last year we did that too. I felt like a photo-journalist chronicling the details.
This decision is logical and perhaps long overdue. Second homes are expensive and work, especially large ones. “The only thing that works in an older home is the owner.” That’s a quote from a friend who understood.
It’s another change in the stages of life. For us, it’s miniscule. For our friends, it’s a major life change but it will open the door to other opportunities. Lifting a burden allows new adventures and maybe a nice “little” beach house. I have my beach bag packed just in case there is a B&B next door.
So, would you rather know when you are experiencing something for the last time?