… and the truth is, we don’t.
I used to wonder when the last time would be that I’d push my son’s pram, or bathe him, or was allowed into his bedroom without a polite knock first.
The thing, is we don’t know until we look back and realise it was the last time. We just assume everything carries on as before, until it doesn’t.
Which is normal when you’re bringing up a child. We may look back and feel a bit teary, but we look forward to the next stage, the next achievement. There will always be something new to celebrate.
It’s the same with our wider family network: me and my three siblings have all been getting on with our lives, coming together, celebrating milestones and knowing that whatever happened, we were all parents, bringing up our children.
I caught up with my brother in July when he was on a flying visit before heading back home. A glorious, joyous conversation filled with so many plans for the future – my University studies, his desire to start a blog and network to share everything he had learned over the years; his spiritualism, meditation and mindfulness. The classes he taught and had brought kindness and understanding to so many people. We drank a lot of coffee, laughed until I cried and I was secure in the knowledge that he was happy and fulfilled.
He was beaming from ear to ear and I can confidently say I have never seen him so happy. We had a long hug before he left and had made plans to meet again very soon.
He died a month later.
Despite his incredible travels, learning and teachings, he finally found peace at home, alone.
So far, I have avoided the pain of his passing. Every time he comes in to my mind, which is almost every minute of every day, I push it away. It is far too raw and painful. However, these last few days have been harsh. I can no longer avoid his passing. I wake up numerous times each night and his absence hits me again and again and again, like a hammer smashing my heart.
He will never visit me again. He will never again do his crazy dance. He will never fill my house with his presence. I will never hear his gentle voice drawing me into conversation.
The last time I saw him, after our hug, he hoisted his ubiquitous backpack onto his shoulder, smiled broadly and headed off down my path.
If I had only known.