The Last of The Firsts
Remember when our children were born, and it doesn’t really matter how many children we have, we counted their first smile, their first words, their first steps. We stared at our little bundles of joy with awe and wonder what they will do next.
As they get a little older, we celebrate their first birthday, first Christmas, first day at school, first field trip, first football game or first dance recital. We continue to be amazed as we watch them grow, achieve new skills and realize new dreams. They are beginning to gain independence and we, as parents are so proud to watch them learn and develop.
Soon they go to high school and we listen as they talk about their first love. We hold and console them as their experience their first heartbreak. We help them get ready for their first school dance. This reminds us of our own childhood and how anxious we were back then. We reassure them by saying, “It will be fun” and “Don’t worry if you can’t dance, no one is watching.” They don't believe us, but we didn't believe our parents either.
We teach them how to drive. We are so nervous the first time they are behind the wheel. We help them find and buy their first car. As we watch them drive solo for the first time we hope they remember everything we taught them.
We help teach them new skills as they enter into adulthood and maybe even go off to college, the military, or maybe look for a job. We help them get ready for their first job interview by encouraging them and reminding them to shake hands, smile, and sit up straight. We are so proud when they come home to tell us they got that first job and start next week.
Some of us are lucky enough to watch our kids grow up and become adults, find love, and get married. We then celebrate our first grandchildren and the whole process starts all over again. That is how it should be, a lifetime of firsts between parent and child.
This week marked the last of the firsts for my son and me. This week was the first anniversary since Erik died. It is the last first that I will ever have with him. That realization hit me like a ton of bricks. It’s not supposed to be this way. It doesn’t seem fair. It makes me so sad and angry. And I don’t know what to do with those feelings. Is that normal?
I’m angry because I feel cheated. It’s as if something so precious has been stolen from me, something that I will never find, nor will it ever be returned. All of those future firsts will never be realized.
I am left with my imagination of what could have been. I sit alone and wonder about a lifetime of firsts and create images and stories in my mind. Who would he have fallen in love with and married? What would she be like? How many children would they have? Where would their first home be? What goals would he have achieved?
This goes on and on until I force myself to stop. Sometimes I think it is easier to stay in my sad little fantasy world where Erik is still here with us. It is less painful than the reality that I must face every day. The reality is that he is gone. The reality is there will be no more firsts.
On this day last year we said our final goodbyes to Erik. Today is the first anniversary of the funeral service.
It is the last first.
I hate it.
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