Our Empty Nest


September 2, 2013 (836 days)

Dear Will,

Today is another first day of school. Your first day in what would have been your grade 10 year of high school. All around me are moms who are saying the same words, “where has the time gone?” Though for me, it is different. I miss you more and more every day and in my world it never feels like time flies. It is a repeat of another day without you. Like last year at this time I have purposely stayed away from the stores; watching moms shopping with their kids for back to school is still too painful. Oh, what I’d give to be complaining and negotiating and frustrated with the whole list… Trying to talk you out of your perceived need for another backpack when the one you have is perfectly fine, trying to convince you that while the new shoes you want so badly are terribly over-priced (because of where they rank on the “cool factor scale”) I agree to meet you in the middle by paying for half of them….all the while feeling that maybe I was too hard on you because I do understand how important it is to want and need to fit in and that I remember as a school aged girl the excitement over a new pair of shoes at the beginning of each school year. New t-shirts and a couple of pairs of jeans, brand new whiter-than-white socks, the necessary new hoodie and last on the list, of course, the binders and notebooks that were a back to school requirement but not near as much fun to shop for as the other stuff. And then the haircut negotiations would begin… You wanting to keep it long while I was on the other end of the spectrum wishing I could talk you into a shorter style… In the end, you’d have won that battle because I did learn (finally) by having gone through it year after year with your older brothers that really, it’s only hair and not worth a battle. Once home you’d empty the bags onto your bed and want to wear it all right now — not wanting to wait until school started…and yet another round of negotiations would begin. Oh, how I miss all of it. Instead, I stay away knowing that hearing the banter and negotiating between moms and their kids would send me into another tailspin of tears.

I wonder a lot these past few days what you’d look like now; how handsome you’d be? Its not a surprise that part of what I miss most is the physicality of you. I miss seeing you, I miss your smell, your voice, your laugh. I miss being able to hug you and to touch you. I miss what it feels like to hold your hand, to pat you on the back. Gosh, Will, I even miss making your school lunches and arguing with you. What I imagine to be true is that you’d have been a stunningly handsome, almost 15 year old boy, with the most beautiful blue eyes and that because of that you’d have been a distraction amongst the girls! Then here we’d go again with another round of negotiations about the importance of your school work with less attention on the girls… Oh boy, Will, I know there’d have been some trying times between us at this stage but they’d never be as hard as not having them at all.

I am writing you this letter in the wee hours of the morning. It is still dark outside and the only sound I hear is the steady, rhythmic shrill of crickets outside the open window. Dad and I are leaving for home mid morning, having spent the long weekend here in Kelowna helping Ben move into residence and his first year of university. I am grateful that he has chosen to go to university here, close to Uncle Jim. Kelowna is a beautiful place as you know. Spending some of our time in past summers at Uncle Jim’s was full of fun times and for that reason there are good memories here for sure.

The difficult part of today will be our arrival back home and the bittersweet of walking into “clean and quiet”. Our nest is empty now and that makes me sad. These next few years were supposed to be ours with just you at home. No sharing you with your brothers. While Justin begins his last year at U of C and Ben is just beginning his university life here, Dad and I feel like we’ve been robbed of this special time with you. All of us have reached another milestone in our lives… Only dad and I aren’t ready. It’s not supposed to be our empty nest time but sadly we weren’t part of that decision. Having Finn, our big, brown dog, will help and I am grateful that we have him as he helps fill up the house a little, but, oh what I’d give to have you at home. The nest would be perfect then.

Though I believe in my heart that you are near me, I continue to search for signs of you daily. That’s what makes me smile these days. Stay close to the nest, little blue. We need you there.

Love you like a bus… parked in the nest.