Tonight I am sitting alone in my house with no sound except the occasional hum of the refrigerator or the air conditioner coming on...and the sound of dog toenails walking across the floor. And - of course - the sound of my fingers moving across the keyboard here.
It's a little bit disconcerting if truth be told.
My life for the past 27 years has involved climbing corporate ladders, enjoying and surviving a marriage, giving birth to two beautiful children, training dogs, and caring for a host of friends who have come and gone and some who have stayed. It has been answering telephones, questions, and calls to duty. It is being up at 2 a.m. when Jill has thrown up chocolate ice cream and is bewildered at the experience. Worse than that? Stripping the bed, telling her that it will be alright and trying not to gag. I've explained the unexplainable, tried to sow seeds of our Christian faith, and wanted her to experience life without messing hers up.
I've laughed, cried, worried how bills were going to get paid, and hoped that my kids would be safe. Big Dave can take care of himself. Most of the time anyway. I've been very blessed that he has survived this with me and is still here in spite of everything.
Tonight, though, was just a Friday night on the first day of June in some regards...and a dividing line in others. We packed up her things and the items that we had put in the attic from her apartment her junior year of college (she lived in the sorority house as a senior) or somehow smashed into this house for...well...this point in time.
I just didn't know that it would be this difficult to let her go again.
It isn't as though she is leaving the area...she is actually moving about thirty miles from here...but where she is going is only four miles from her work. This is going to be a huge improvement for her because she has been and will be working long hours. Of course, after being in that incubator between our nest and today - otherwise known as college - she found it very difficult to come back home and live here as she did when she was 18 years old. She is, of course, so over that. Not that we put demands on her, or even had difficulty getting along. Far from it. It was just that we had instilled in her that when she finished college...she was to be on her own.
And now she is.
Tonight I read a post on Facebook of a friend who is a father of little people...and is amazed at how quickly his children have grown. He is lamenting the fact that the years have blown by so quickly. I mean...we bring them home, teach them to eat, walk, talk, potty, and play nice. Then they learn their colors, the alphabet, and later how to read. They move on to school, to learning that not everybody is going to like them, and that the reverse is also true. We survive emergencies, illnesses, final exams, junior high, the ACT or SAT and a whole host of other things before we get them to legal adulthood.
We smile in the photos at graduations and either send them off to college, to the service, to volunteer, or to work. We look back up and we hear the sound of their wings flapping furiously to get away from us so that they can move on and live the lives that God intended them to live.
Doesn't mean we have to like it, though. Like, at all.
There is a part of me that still wants to hear her in the other room watching her "shows" and laughing at something someone said to her on the phone. This quiet is just a little unnerving.
Of course, we are not empty-nesters yet. Brian has another year at home and then he will have to make a break for somewhere to study engineering. Assuming, of course, that he survives Calculus III and Physics. I'm quite certain that he will. Right now, he is on a trip to Kentucky, and Big Dave is picking up his truck from town so I'm all alone with my thoughts.
Sorry about that.
A lot of people might see this as a wonderful opportunity to have the space in my home back...and to have one less person to consider as I go about my business here at the house. My living room looks almost completely empty as does the study.
But not as empty as her room is.
I miss her already, though. I didn't cry (much) when she left home for college...and each break I always knew that she would come back to stay. I was honestly, completely fine! Until now.
Usually, when people are sad, I tell them to focus on one positive thing. So, I'll take my own advice tonight. Well, I'll TRY. Here goes: I am happy that I have raised a competent and wonderful daughter who finished college in four years and was in her job four days after graduation. She has enjoyed what she is doing and has already made friends at work. She sorted everything she owned in the four days she had between graduation and beginning work, and because she is very organized...packing her up was not the nightmare that I had imagined. It took two hours to load the truck. See? Lots of positives.
She left a few minutes ago...and said to me..."See you tomorrow." and she gave me a hug. She knew I needed that hug. She is happy and is so obviously ready for this phase in her life. I, on the other hand, am a little bit of a hot mess right now. I suppose that's because I'm not particularly ready for this phase in mine.
Those of you with young children...and you are looking around you and wondering if you will ever get to go to the bathroom by yourself again...the answer is "yes" - and sooner than you imagine. Those of you with teenagers that keep you washing uniforms at midnight and monitoring cell phone usage...this too shall pass. And those of you who are ahead of me on this journey...you all look pretty happy...so I'm going to just hold on to that.
Tomorrow will be a busy day as we unpack her and get her all settled in her new home. I'm sure that we'll end up getting on each other's nerves a little bit...but I hope not. It is really for the best...her moving on and being independent. After all...that was the whole point of these past 22 years. Pretty much, anyway.
She will be living by a friend of mine and has a church home picked out already. She has enough to start out and will learn that she has very little extra money...but will have two extra hours a day that she won't be traveling to work and back. I hope that she will be happy...and that we will cross over into that place I've always looked forward to when I am her best friend as well as her Mom.
But for now...I just hope we get through tomorrow.
Big Dave is back now and has the television on...breaking the silence. He is probably feeling the emptiness as well but I think that he's ready for her to spread her wings and fly.
And so she shall. One down...one to go.