My Last-One Syndrome

Photo by Brittani Burns on Unsplash

I had a life and a future. Most of my accomplishments were projected in the future, while being relatively satisfied with what I already was.

One day, an unusual morning phone call from my mother. My father, a strong and fit man, had suddenly died.

The last Skype call with him, the day before. I even was in a hurry, as usual, because of my mind in a thousand other things.

You can imagine how such an event can change your mind and life.

That marked my transition to my second life, which showed itself three years later.

I stopped wearing wristwatches. I become almost allergic to the superfluous, more than previously.

Also, I started to think that our time on Earth is more limited than I already imagined. Much more limited. I had already seen death. But the death of your parents — especially sudden death — is way different.

A few months later, the owner of the company where both I and my father worked previously died.

He was used to coming into my office two times per day, when I was there. In the last years, he was sick, and I gradually helped him more with certain aspects of the company. I was like a nephew to him. And I knew him since I was 4, from what I remember.

I remember the last day he came into my office. His medical tests were serious. He told me not to worry prematurely. He belonged to the iron generation.

I knew it was the last time I would see him in the office. Afterward, I saw him one more time in the hospital.

The company was inherited by her daughter, totally unable to run it. I suddenly took the lead with her and we worked side by side for two and half years.

I was some way prepared for the strategic work and leadership, but not for getting so much on my shoulders. Too much. It was all mess, hard work, and little reward. After a good start, things with her didn’t go well.

Rare business flights and restaurants were the only tangible reward, actually. While getting off the plane of my last comfortable flight, I knew it was the last.

A few months later, she finally listened to who was working on getting me out of their way. She would never fire me, but I decided to leave before getting into a toxic situation. Dec 23rd, with family at home, waiting to happily celebrate Christmas.

And that was the beginning of my second life. Or the third, but let’s simplify.

After years passed adding something to my life, I started subtracting for real, taking a gap year.

I started writing and studying.

But money was a pending issue. Not urgent, but pending. I wasn’t going to subscribe to another company ladder, and that was a challenge.

That summer holiday, in one of my preferred places on Earth (in the Alps), I knew it was the last one. Maybe not the last-last, but certainly the last of the “good life.” You’ll see what I mean.

In any case, I was already profoundly aware that any instant is the last one. Even if another one happens again, similar, the past one is gone, forever. And the you at that moment is gone too.

Two years after, things weren’t any better, and I was no closer to my dreams. Closer to my hell, if anything.

My wife and I had a trip to Berlin, for my 50th. I literally owned only a PC, a car, and some savings. No job. No future. On the train to the city, I knew it was the last light-hearted trip with my wife. Not much light-hearted, actually, but much more than what was to follow.

Then life started to go down the sink. My professional life wasn’t taking off, even if something was there. My wife was increasingly worried and resentful. I was starting to feel the heat of the flames.

The hell arrived in the form of a Covid virus. Not for me personally but for the planet.

And for our marriage. Our marriage — already ill — died. And a few months ago, in full lockdown, my wife declared her will to break up.

That night, going to sleep, in bed, with someone that already was no more my wife, the wife I have mistakenly taken for granted for 18 years, I acknowledged that the previous night had been the last one of our marriage.

We still live under the same roof, but it’s a temporary thing. I wouldn’t bet on an inversion of her new path and I realistically can’t do anything for it.

If I had plenty of last-one in the last years, you can only imagine how this escalated to a daily habit. I’m afraid that I’m going to see “last ones” for the rest of my life. And it hurts.

I really don’t know how I’m able to take so much of that, not knowing what tomorrow will be but certainly not looking bright, and I’m starting to fall apart. I’m sure that psychology has a name for that.

Talking about the last one, I’d like to pick a first-one, instead.

She entered the church with her father — we both had our fathers, at the time. Everything was as expected, after long and difficult preparations. Simple and with all the loved ones. When she was next to me, I saw her as a child, as the joyful girl she still was, inside the woman. My wife. A little dazed, but happy. We were officially starting a life together. A first one, a day of love and expectations.

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Stan Smith

I’m not Stan Smith. But either I write under a pen name or I explode. Chances are, we already met here on Medium.