It’s the last few hours of my daughter’s visit home. I am trying to not feel the emptiness before it happens. She’s at the store right now, so she’s allowing me to ease back into the emptiness. But when she comes back it will be awkward, because we both know we’re on the countdown. Her visits have become sparser and shorter, now that she is an employee as well as a student. It feels more & more every day like I’m staring down the barrel of the Empty Nest Cannon, and someone has just lit the fuse.
I have two children, a son and a daughter. Cate is in her junior year of undergrad school. Thankfully she chose a university that is close enough for visits but far away enough that she feels independent. Dan, however, seems to have shaken the dust of our home from his sandals. He’s in graduate school in New York City, but lest it seem that I’m being unfair about his ability to get home for visits, I’ll tell you that he chose a nearby campus for undergrad and then only came home for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Spring Break. And that was until his sophomore year; he stopped coming home for Spring Break altogether then. It feels like he left home a lifetime ago.
So the house empties itself of the flotsam of a large piece of my life and heart a little more with each leave-taking. We pack up more odds & ends and send them along with children, or label the box and stack it with the others in the basement. Small bits of my being get packed into those boxes along with the Barbies and the books. My mission this year is to redefine my purpose, back to being centered on Self and Husband (in that order) rather than on Children.
The humming furnace and a faucet dripping somewhere are the only sounds in the bereft house now. One of the dogs scratches & stretches, then settles back down to snooze. And I look around for a sparkle that is no longer there.