The Last Time

The Last Time

I watched you fade away. But I turned my head and closed my eyes and prayed you’d stay. And I told myself that it’d be fine. I wish I could have just said something. When you said you needed time, I heard goodbye.
– Dan + Shay, I Heard Goodbye

It’s simple, really. You never know the last time of something until it is. There are no warnings, no strips of caution tape strung nearby; there is the humble reality that what you have you have no longer. What you experienced – even if it was only a moment ago – will never exist again. The last time typically sneaks up on you like a thief in the night; it steals something from you and refuses to ever give it back.

The last kiss, the last embrace, the final “I love you” – we live our lives expecting those things to always stick around; they are supposed to be our lifelong friends that swing hand in hand in our brains releasing the copious amounts of dopamine that can only truly be experienced when you love someone that loves you back. Or loved…

And maybe that’s why we don’t appreciate these things as much – sometimes we even take advantage of the fact that we have a love that is so loving, and so we don’t see the last time coming. The thief wins. Every. Single. Time.

You don’t realize that as your iPhone clock turns to 4:02 a.m. and he’s quietly sleeping next to you that it will be the last time you see him drag one of his legs out from under the sheet – half in, half out, toes curled, and a longing sigh. So you roll to him and wrap your arm around his side. The silent hums and the clicking of the ice maker in his freezer, and even the light that blinks from his charging toothbrush in the bathroom – you’ll never be able to take notice of those things again. But you do on that Saturday night. You take notice. But you don’t realize that it is the last time.

You hate yourself in the aftermath for not being able to recall the last time it rained. He loved the smell of the rain; you loved the sound of it, and you loved being together whenever storms brewed. The clouds descended, and two hearts beat along to the rhythm of the thunder and lightning – one right after the other. And you know there was a last time for this, but you can’t recall it. So you hate yourself.

All of those times he hopped into the shower with you in the middle of your shampoo session – as annoying as it could be at times when you didn’t get all of the hot water, you loved that he would join you just because he wanted to be with you. But amongst all of your complaining, your whining, and the soap and suds getting into your eyes, you did relish the fact that he had the most beautiful way of interrupting you with the most beautiful kiss. Maybe you can recall the last time for that. It was yesterday. Sunday. Sunday showers, shampoo, and the sensualness of the way he knew every line and curve of your body.

But you can’t remember the last time he promised you forever. Probably because he said it with such frequency and veracity that you thought a last time was impossible. The possibility of this last time never even occurred to you – not even in your deepest fears; not even when you imagined the worst version of you and him. Not even then.

And you don’t think the last time he texts you is the last time. Because it can’t possibly be something as trivial as

They’re blaring old school Will Smith in the sandwich shop. Haha

Shouldn’t it be something far more momentous? But it’s not. The last text – the last time of the last text – captures you two perfectly. It is nothing out of the ordinary because maybe he didn’t see the last time coming either. And suddenly you find yourself wishing that you two had been kept in the dark together.

But that’s never how these last times work. Someone is always in control of the last time, whether they are conscious of this or not. When he changed his mind, when he walked away, he effectively instituted the statute of limitations. The limitation being that everything you had and knew ceased. It hit its limit. Whatever you had with him has reached the endpoint. And so all you are left with is trying to recall the last time. The last time you danced with him, the last time he held your hand, the last time he squeezed your ass when he thought no one was looking. Or maybe you’re thinking of the first times. The first time he danced with you, the first time you held his hand, the first time you met his parents – you were terrified, but he was the calm to your storm. And you remember the smell of the rain on that November day. You felt so terrified, but he took your hand – one of many times – and the storm brewing inside of your gut and every nerve in your body quieted.

And if there is one thing you will always remember, it is the goodbye. The goodbye is a truly unique thing: it is a simultaneous first and last time. There is nothing like experiencing something for the first time and also knowing you’ll never experience it again. And in many ways, you hate that you had to experience it, but are so inexplicably grateful that you only have to experience it once.

But now there is no one to take your hand; no one to quiet the storms, no one to brush away the tears. All that is left now are the first times, the in betweens, the t-shirts that still faintly smell of him – fresh laundry, that was his scent – the broken promises of the forever’s and the always’ and the realization that every word in the English language is meaningless until someone gives action to their weight. And all you will go through is the what-if’s and what could have been’s, the pictures, letters, the search to find his scent again, the inevitable recalling of every last time, and the constant remembering of the goodbye.


  1. This is incredibly well-written! Beautiful perspective on how tough goodbyes can be and their strange immediacy.

  2. Reblogged this on Get inside my head. .

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