I said good morning to one cat who was sitting patiently at the foot of the bed waiting for me to open the curtains so she could peer into the backyard world and perhaps dream about catching all the squirrels that taunt her as they run by the window. I went to pour my morning glass of orange juice, stopping in the living room to say good morning to the dog who was sleeping on a blanket on the couch…a cat blanket ironically. I opened the drapes in the living room to let the morning light inside. As I poured my juice, another cat appeared at my feet, meowing his good morning to me. Shower, dress, and make the bed are the next steps in my regimented procedure. I then grab the two containers of food for the outdoor critters and head outside. I put down some corn, sunflower seeds and peanuts for the resident squirrels and fill the bird feeder with a mixture of bird seed. A usual morning for me, except this morning, this last task was accompanied by tears—tears I didn’t want nor ask for, yet tears I couldn’t hold back no matter how hard I tried.
As I stepped outside this morning with the food containers in my hand, the crisp, coolness of the October air hit me and filled my senses with delight. In my mind, there is no feeling better than a crisp October morning. Ignoring the burning pain in my right foot, I set down one container, picked up the other, and headed over to the side of the house where the bird feeder hangs on a tall shepherd’s hook. I heard the crunch of the leaves as I walked. I looked up to see the now empty tree branches towering above me. I do love the look of tree branches in the fall, free of the weight of the leaves that clung to them throughout the summer. The outdoor fire pit is full of leaves waiting for an autumn fire. I glanced to my left and saw my garden, once bursting with lettuce, peppers, chard, squash, and other delights, now empty of everything save for the empty plants withering under the kiss of Jack Frost. The tears I had been fighting back all morning finally won the fight as they rolled down my cheeks.
Next week the final eaglet will fly this nest that has been his home for twenty-four years. He will set out on his own journey to face this cruel world. To say I’m proud of him would be an understatement. He has faced many challenges yet is forging his own path in spite of them. Mingled with that momma pride, though, is an intense sadness. I will miss his presence here. The little things that make him unique will always bring a smile to my face—like how he is SO much like his momma in that he has the need for routines in his life. His moving also ushers in the next move in my life—literally. There is no need for a husband and wife, one dog and two cats to stay in a five bedroom home. Each of those rooms was once filled with a child and his/her belongings. Those rooms are silent now, empty of the precious possessions once held there. The colors on the wall, hand-picked by each child, now sit alone day after day. The light switches, some special to the personality that resided there, no longer turned on and off several times a day. The carpet sits waiting to be vacuumed and cleaned. The walls of these rooms hold so many memories—happy ones, sad ones, difficult ones. They reach out and engulf me at different times…or, like this morning, all at once. The empty garden cannot go with us to be filled again next spring. The clothesline will never again hold my son’s soccer clothes or my husband’s lawn cutting shirt. The birds, squirrels, and rabbits cannot relocate with me. The sense of loss is tremendous right now. The sadness rolls over me as ocean waves roll over a small sandbar, disregarding its very existence.
In the midst of all the tears, I can find it in my heart to thank God for all those memories that speak to me from the walls of the various rooms in this house. I thank God for the children He blessed us with. I thank Him for the privilege of staying home full time to be their mom and, for many years, their teacher. I thank Him for the late night talks, the laughter, the meals shared with them and often with their friends who were almost like a part of our family. I thank Him for the son-in-law we love so much and for the new grandbaby that will come as a result of that marriage. I thank Him for the future daughter-in-law who will share our last name in the spring. I thank God that each of them seem to be figuring this life out despite the hardships they face. There is much to be thankful for.
The tug of war inside me continues–Sadness vs. Thankfulness. Today, Sadness is winning. I have no choice but to ride the waves as they roll in, much like a surfer rides the waves of the mighty Pacific. The difference though…
the surfer is enjoying the ride.