The Last Time

In the stillness of the moment it takes for a Polaroid picture
To capture our faces forever
The world has turned a touch on it’s axis
And the only thing certain
Is everything changes

So honey I just need a little time
To take a little time with it today
To savor all the triumph and tragedy
Before it slips away
Before it slips away

Let go of the little distractions
Hold close to the ones that you love
Cause we won’t all be here this time next year
So while you can, take a picture of us

Frank Turner, “Polaroid Picture”

I got my first MRI on a Friday.  This was the one that was supposed to confirm or deny whether my cancer had metastasised to my liver.  I knew what it meant if it had.  It would mean a death sentence.  And I just had a feeling, after reading the body language of my oncologist, that it had.  The most torturous part of all was that I wouldn’t find out until early that next week.  That left me with a whole weekend to contemplate, to worry, and to hold on to threads of hope.

But… I was seeing Frank Turner, who I knew had an awesome live show.  I would scream, jump, and for a few minutes- forget.  And yet I knew that there would be a couple of songs in his set that would be difficult to get through.  One of them, for example, “Long Live the Queen” was about celebrating the life of a friend of his who had died young of illness.  I was nowhere near being in the mood to celebrate death, but I sang along half-heartedly anyway.  And then there was “Polaroid Picture,” a song about living life in the moment- because you never quite know when that moment will be the last time you get to experience something.  He closed with it.

Cause we won’t all be here this time next year, so while you can, take a picture of us. 

I was singing and swaying along with a good friend of mine and for the first time I thought, what if I’m not here this time next year?  I knew that even if the scan came back with bad results (which of course, it did) that I most likely would be, but that thought, that feeling chilled me.  When the “on this day” reminder of that concert came up on my Facebook memories, I took a silent moment of gratitude.

Most people don’t get to know when it’s the very last time that they will do anything.  There was something on the internet that got shared around awhile back that alluded to this.  It said something like, “When you were a kid, there was one day that you went out to play with your friends for the very last time, and you had no idea.”  The message was the same.  Things are always changing.  You have no idea what might happen tomorrow.  You grow up.  You get hit with a major financial crisis.  A friend or family member dies.  You die.

In October, my husband and I went to Hawaii to celebrate each other and our nearly 20 years of marriage (24 together).  I was sad to leave, but I knew that we had another vacation coming up- to Florida, with our kids over Christmas.  I knew that I would once again get on a plane to some place warm and tropical to make memories with my family.

On the last evening of our trip as a family, I felt another sensation begin to creep in- deep sadness.  I knew that we would not be able to take another vacation to some place warm for at least another year.  A year, proportional to my expected remaining lifespan is equivalent to decades for someone else my age.  I walked out in the dark to the beach and wondered yet again, Is this the last time I ever get to stick my toes in the ocean? To get that feeling of my feet sinking into the sand as the surf recedes?  Of course, it might not be.  But the chances that they were the last are pretty decently high.  Before my diagnosis, I always just assumed that there would be another time.  I don’t assume anything any more.

Years ago, our family took a trip to Pawley’s Island in South Carolina and spent a week watching my kids have a blast at the beach.  Before we left, we made a point of “saying goodbye” to that ocean.  My husband took a picture- it’s the same one used on this blog.

On the morning of our flight back to Ohio from Florida, we made a point to walk out to the sand to say “goodbye” to the ocean one last time.  I tried to let go of my worries, held my children close, and raised my arm to wave goodbye while my husband pressed click on his camera phone to capture the moment.

Let go of the little distractions
Hold close to the ones that you love
Cause we won’t all be here this time next year
So while you can, take a picture of usIMG_20191228_073605

2 thoughts on “The Last Time

    1. With metastatic cancer, we know that nothing is certain; news signaling the end could be as soon as the next set of scans. I am wishing you all good news on your scans this year, and many more vacations as well!


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