Opinion: First and last

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School’s out. The kids are enjoying the lazier days of summer. Buses do not fill the streets. We don’t adjust our daily schedules to avoid their pick-ups and deliveries. Homework is not a part of the evening ritual and wake-ups are a bit less frenzied. Class projects, final exams, the big game and the epic dance, no longer on the horizon, are all slowly fading in the rearview, never to be seen again. 

The events themselves slip into some blur of our collective memories. They become part of the weeks, the months, the years into which we organize ourselves. We adults, every one of us, has some recollection of school days. They revolve around friends, teachers and, hopefully, some smiles. But even as the reminiscences flood in, the details are faded and facts are confused. To help us maintain some order as life rushes by, we rely upon photos and mnemonics to keep it straight. 

Dad remembered events by the car he drove at the time something occurred. Each automobile was imbued with special significance and could be recalled in chronological order. Others invest in firsts – first kisses, first cars, first homes and first flat tires. It makes some sense since we humans are prone to remember most under a modicum of distress. There may be nothing more stressful than crossing over from the uninitiated. 

Likewise, we may keep a list of lasts – the last time we saw a dear friend, the last chicken dumplings that our grandmother made for us and the last time we laughed until our sides ached. Others? Even so, these firsts and lasts can sneak up on us. For some, this school year was the last, and for others, the first. Should we plan for these or are we better served to just let them happen? 

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