It's Like the Year has Lost it's Spring
To be clear, this line, The Year had Lost it's Spring, from Pericles' funeral oration over the young Athenians during the Peloponnesian war in Ancient Greece, is about something horrendous and overwhelming.
Still, the phrase caught me, and touched a feeling my wife and I are experiencing in a more private, personal way. While the two situations in no way compare in magnitude and meaning - one being a joyous event, the other perhaps the greatest tragedy a parent can face - still, the anticipated departure of our younger son touches our hearts, and we sense the coming loss.
We are on the edge of putting a name and a place to the word college, that suddenly all too concrete behemoth that we have been wrestling with for the past year or so. While the debate goes on about which child is harder to let go of, the first or the last, and we anticipate with good feelings the empty nest, this phrase - The Year has Lost it's Spring - is not about any of that.
When young people leave home, they take their friends and acquaintances with them: the whole town they have traveled with from T-ball to graduation.
We'll miss the lively, chatty kids and the sweet, quiet ones, the baseball ones, the musical ones, and the bookish ones. The kids we cared for, those we worried about and those we wished we could have known a little better . The ones we got a kick out of, those we laughed with and those that we absolutely loved.
We'll miss the waves from friends that started on playgrounds and moved to bikes and now to speeding cars. We'll miss the teenage gossip, the house filled with action and all the events we joyfully attended and volunteered at. We'll miss all the parents, who we will see and speak to a little less often. In a word, we will miss our son's world.
Yes, there are bright days ahead, and wondrous things await us. We know like spring, children do come back, stronger and hardier, more beautiful and dazzling. We have watched as our older son, after the trauma of the initial break, return each time on firmer footing, reaching out and making room for us in his crowded life, sharing many of the joys, struggles and excitements of his college experience.
We know our younger son will have his own path both in leaving the family, and in building bridges back to us. We sense that he too will bring us all sorts of unexpected joys and surprises . We know the laughter, the conversation and the love with our children will change, but it will still be there. We are connected to our sons forever and while the pain of separation is at times more acute, the bonds runs much deeper.
I look out at our yard and see ghosts. I hear the voices of my children at play. But I know they are not leaving our lives. It's the others I wonder about. I hear their voices too. And I'll miss the whole damn lot of them.