Our house is a “model” home when we buy it in the spring of 1992. We had both sold our homes where we had lived with our now deceased spouses, so we are excited to find a new home to start our life together.
The house has three bedrooms and when our kids Matt and Jess come with us to see it for the first time; they run upstairs into separate rooms and declare, “This is mine!” Lucky for us, neither picks the master bedroom with adjoining bath.
Our four-and-a-half year old daughter must already know that the bigger closet is important down the road, or maybe it is just the light-colored, girlie wallpaper on the walls that determine her choice.
But over the course of time, wallpaper gets stripped, wall colors and curtains change and I now find myself, twenty-two years later, back on a ladder. This time, I am moving my office from the basement into her room with a window that offers morning light.
Preparing for the job, I pack the remnants of my daughter’s belongings into plastic storage bins and memories fill my mind. I envision Susie, her beloved stuffed dog propped up carefully against the pillows of her bed.
I remember the gerbils’ cage on the rectangular dresser and the desk where homework was done and I think of how many years have gone by. I recall all the changes that have come to that room, the many changes taking place in our lives over the years, and I think how often living and loss collide.
There is a part of me that doesn’t want to move on, that doesn’t want to accept the fact that I am old enough to be an “empty-nester.” If I think about it too much, I start crying knowing that our children will probably never live in our home again.
If there is one thing I want to teach my children; however, is that we need to be present, to embrace where we are in our journey of life. So I am painting the room a soothing shade of green, the color of new growth and possibilities.
Despite my very real sense of loss, I also thank God for my children’s ability to move on, to create independent lives for themselves. I am also very grateful for their continued desire to come home to visit!
I know some people who have kept their children’s rooms completely the same since they left home, unable to paint them or change them in any way. How do you feel about that?
Has your empty nest elicited feelings of loss? Don’t be shy, share your thoughts!