The Last Whatever.

I’ve been thinking these days about the last whatever.

The 25th anniversary of my becoming a bat mitzvah has encouraged people to put together a video montage with photos, videos and mp3s of memories from my childhood to the present – to share at a cocktail party in my honor (shameless plug: please RSVP here or to make a donation). I wanted to submit a picture of me and my dad of blessed memory – our last picture together – with that grin of a smile on his face – and the thought brought me to tears. It doesn’t take much these days.

Add to this the pain of another mass shooting – 17 lives brutally cut short – and the surrounding conversations with mothers around me whispering (they, too, with tears in their eyes), “give your child an extra kiss tonight, make sure you hug them before you say goodbye at school. Let them know how much you love them before you tuck them in at night.”

I am not tucking my kids in tonight. They are not even sleeping in my home with me. When I dropped them off at school, I knew I might not see them until tomorrow night. That’s what happens when you get a divorce.

The collision of my father’s last photo, the finality of this mass shooting, and saying goodbye to my kids at school without tucking them in – all gives new meaning to the last whatever.

The thing about the last whatever is that you never know it’s the last until it’s…the last. You never know if something is the last hug, the last photo, the last embrace, touch, kiss, conversation, smile, breath…whatever. You never know. Until you know. And when you do know, the pain takes your breath away.

The parents of all of these children didn’t know the last whatever would be the last. And, I am outraged and appalled that our government and society continue to let more last whatevers happen – shooting after shooting – innocent child after innocent child – when will this madness end?

But here is what I do know:

We’ve become desensitized. It’s become the norm. Last whatevers? We shrug them off as if to say “whatever!” Because we feel ignored and unheard and, quite frankly, because the pain of more last whatevers has made us numb to the point of suffocation. It’s no longer “if” it happens again, but “when” it happens again, and we all live in fear, worried that next time…it might be our child.

And so we squeeze them even tighter. We look into the their eyes a little deeper. We love more fully – things we know we should do anyway.

Let this be our last…”whatever.” The last time we soon forget before moving on. The last time we don’t speak up, the last time that we feel the need to worry about giving or expressing our last whatever.