The other day, I opened the kitchen drawer to grab a sheet of leftover newspaper that I use to cover my kitchen counter from splatters and noticed I was down to my last sheet. I can’t get an actual newspaper delivered to my home anymore. There are no carriers in my neighborhood. I remember spreading the newspaper around on Sunday mornings. The New York Times had a different smell than my local Cleveland paper and the ink that smeared off on my fingers was different too. Reading the paper was a messy proposition.
I may never be able to read an actual newspaper paper again. I’m trying now to remember the last time I settled in with a newspaper spread out in front of me and rustled through its pages. It had to be on a Sunday morning, two separate newspapers spread around me in bed or maybe I was on my comfy couch, steam from my cup of coffee rising from my mug, browsing through the Style section or the Op/Eds. In my mind, it’s rainy outside and cozy inside and I’m in a place where I’m comfortably safe to take in the news of the world at my own leisurely pace.
Now that I’m in my 60’s, I can recall lots of other last times, some more significant than others. The ski trip to Colorado where I finally mustered up the courage to traverse the moguls and then took a tumble on the flat last straightway into the lodge. That was several years ago and probably the last time I’ll ever put on a pair of skis. I’ll certainly never carry my youngest son Adam around on my back again. He’s over six feet tall and appears to be close to twice my size. Having purchased a Tesla a couple of years back, I’ll likely never fill my car up at a gas station again. I can’t imagine I’ll ever have a landline again. And it would be really okay with me if I never find myself stuck on the interstate in the middle of a blizzard again.
But last times sneak up on us and when it’s happening, we rarely know that it is indeed the last time. When exactly was the last time one of my adult children woke me up in the middle of the night because they were having a nightmare? I sure can’t remember although I well remember them crawling into bed with me as their father and I tried to arrange ourselves around their feisty toddler sleep.
These are the potential last times that haunt me most: the sight of Jerusalem from a distance, watching it glow and pinken in the late afternoon sun; the taste of the most divine chocolate rugelach, from the Marzipan Bakery in Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda market; walking the boardwalk on the beach in Tel Aviv surrounded by a vibrant crowd of brash and confident Israelis.
Yet one thing exists that seems it will endure forever. After seeing the masochistic massacre of Israeli citizens followed by world-wide demonstrations of support for the terrorists who slaughtered more Jews in a single day than at any time since the Holocaust, I pray for one particular last day: the day two millennia of antisemitism disappears forever. That possibility feels flimsier than ever. The act of harming a man, woman or child simply because they’re a Jew is a last time I long for.