For anyone who ever has frequented such an establishment as Boston’s The Black Rose, “last call” means a summons to final fortification, perhaps to a last opportunity to drown one’s sorrows . . . for one night.
There is but fleeting finality to that commonplace colloquial use of the “last call.”
I think of something else when I hear the same phrase. Perhaps the most heartbreaking part of the ritual for a police officer killed in the line of duty is the last call: the thrice-repeated one-way radio dispatch to the officer’s call number, which will then be retired, never to go out again.
I know of no similar ritual that so literally reinforces the finality of the unanswerable call.
My husband Jim’s voice still answers calls, both on our home answering machine and on one child’s voice mail. I truly thought I had recorded another greeting, but apparently my technological skills do not extend even to such a seemingly small task, because just yesterday someone left a message saying it was reassuring to hear his voice again.
Earlier in the day, our friend and I looked up to the sky and directly addressed Jim, wondering if he was laughing at our inability to figure out his electrical circuit system.
I still call out to my husband. Last week, in particularly steep depths of melancholy, I found myself outside in the sun, asking him to send me another sign, anything at all. But ultimately I think such signals cannot be ordered up–as with a final drink and the tab–but need to arrive unbidden, to someone whose heart is open to receiving them.
(c) 2012 Stephanie M. Glennon