It’s back to school week! Some of my friends are putting their children on the school bus for the very first time. Many of them are saying goodbye as their babies go off to college and they are left at home to cope with the dreaded empty nest.
As I read their poignant posts on Facebook, I can’t help but be reminded of the emotions I felt when our youngest left for college many years ago. I wrote about these thoughts in Book 1 in the Must Love Shoes series and thought I would share it again as a way of telling my friends that…
You’re not alone and….
Life goes on.
Hang in there!
A few years ago my husband and I became empty nesters. Our youngest son, Kevin, left for college. In spite of the fact that we had been planning for that day since Kevin was born, when it finally happened, we were not (emotionally) ready for the change.
Overnight, the phone stopped ringing. There was no more music blaring from the bedroom, no parade of teenagers raiding my cupboards and refrigerators at all hours. There were no shoes to pick up, no wet towels on the floor to fuss over. The house was empty and, to my dismay, I felt as if my heart was breaking.
I now silently cursed the many times during those tumultuous teenage years that I looked forward to this time! How quickly we, as parents, find ourselves wishing that we could turn back time. After Kevin’s departure, I found myself walking into our second vacant bedroom and feeling very alone. And afraid.
One day a colleague called to see how I was handling the change. I replied that, in a very strange way, it felt as if someone had died. He responded by sharing a story that I will never forget and for which I will always be grateful.
In a small hospital room several years ago, Bill sat, with his brother-in-law Gene, next to his only sister and watched sadly as she quietly surrendered her fight against cancer. After she took her final breath, neither man moved to summon the nurse. They remained by her side, lost in quiet reflection over the woman they both loved.
At that moment, an old familiar tune began to play over the intercom system of the hospital. Rock-a-bye Baby. Its sweet melody filled the hallways and is played each time a baby is born at the hospital. The song is the hospital’s way of announcing to patients and visitors that a new life has just entered the world.
“Listen to that,” Gene murmured, breaking the silence. “One life has just ended and another has just begun.”
Life is a series of deaths and rebirths, isn’t it? Seasons come and go, and each brings new adventures and endless possibility. I look back on the early days of our empty nest now with an entirely different attitude, for I am not the same person I used to be, either. As my sons bravely ventured out into the world, I, too, took on new challenges with great hope and anticipation. I started growing my business, returned to school, and found courage to pursue goals for which I previously never had the time or courage.
For each of us, growth occurs at every age. Stay focused on the rebirth during every season in your life.