The Empty Nest, Part 3

My adult daughter and I sat on the bed with her childhood journals spread across the coverlet. She began journaling at age six when we moved into this house. Starting with the darling misspelled missives written in grade-school script, she read excerpts to me.

We admired her artwork, her observations, and the notes she addressed to her journal, as if the two of them engaged in a conversation. We laughed over the calamities of childhood. These catastrophes have faded. Her sense of the tragic has evolved.

PortraitofPlayW28-13 Kaleen Enke via Compfight  

As she read and I listened, she journeyed from sweet discussions of Jesus, family, and pets to teenage angst, heartache, and the doldrums that befall us all as we move from childhood to adulthood.

As always I was impressed with the kindness of her heart, her empathy, her love for the Lord, and her desire to help others, shown in the occasional sage advice she addressed to the reader about how to survive each stage of life.

siluetas Baala via Compfight

Literally, her childhood zoomed by as she read. I felt as if she had grown up in one short afternoon. In four short days, she is leaving home, really leaving – she’s taking all her books. She bought dishes. That’s how I know this is it, The Launch.

All summer she has distanced herself and then reattached, testing a new world, leaving the old. The contractions of the coming separation rip my heart fibers as her roots pull free, bit by bit. Her roots are interwoven round my heart and into every corner of my life.

Three Trees (1) Ian ‘Harry’ Harris via Compfight

To extract her, we have to dig up all the roots. They touch every space – books, movies, music, coffee mugs, bathroom gadgets, coats, artwork, shoe rack, wires, fixtures, autos, furnishings, decorations, plants, bedding, and towels. She is everywhere.

Everything has a part of her invested in it. Everything holds a memory. Everything has to be gone through, roots stripped, and reorganized. Once extracted, we sort. I feel as if every item in our house has been moved, shifted, and reshelved.

Sifting through her clothing, we made piles of trash, piles to donate, and piles to go with her. Half of her clothing was just tossed.

As I watched the rapid-fire decisions, I kept saying, “But you wear that all the time.”

“Yeah, in high school.”

Considering her words, I would realize this was true. How did this happen so fast? She’s now a senior in college. High school was a long time ago.

How did my baby girl, the youngest one, grow up so fast?

upsetCreative Commons License Crispin Semmens via Compfight

I want to stop the relentless passage of time, to close my eyes and she’s six again, to rewind and replay the tape, so I can do this all over again simply to experience it once more. A do-over seems imperative.

My God! Our lives fly by. Our home bulged with children, a womb full, a tree in bloom, and then off they went, one by one. Now the baby.

My children are the delight of my heart and the investment of my life. They each attached their roots deep into my fibers. As they pulled free, they left me bloody, a second birthing. I started writing fiction again when only she, the youngest, remained. I knew if I didn’t, I might surely die when they were all gone.

How I will miss this girl! How I miss her siblings!

Children are a precious gift from God. We certainly don’t deserve them, but He bestows these amazing human beings upon us to cherish and to raise. We blow it. We make mistakes. But we do our level best, and they are resilient.

Spring Eke Miedaner via Compfight

But next thing we know, the task is complete. They wave as they drive away. We stand alone on the lawn. Their lives no longer revolve around us and our home, but around the next step God has prepared for them.

They have burst forth from our home’s womb, excited with the challenges and decisions. But this birthing leaves us bereft, whereas the first birthing was our gain.

Surely we are but dust and ashes in the wind, though our hearts and souls are enmeshed with the interwoven roots of them all. God has set eternity in our hearts in them, his most precious gifts, treasures for which we are eternally grateful.

Lord, may we all join you one day, together, forever. Amen.

Part 2: The Looming Empty Nest

Part 1: Do We Really Know What’s Best for Us?