The living room of my house is packed full of my daughter’s new life. There are boxes of shiny new appliances. There’s color coordinated art work for the bare walls that await her. There’s her old day bed from high school that has been hauled down from the attic and festooned with a red, white and black comforter and matching bed skirt, pillow cases, throw pillows, high thread count cotton sheets and something called a “valance”. There’s also the chest of drawers from the attic that was in her nursery when we brought her home from the hospital 24 years ago. It’s covered in dust and a couple of the drawers were inexplicably filled with very short shorts with a 34 waist that I am ashamed to say don’t fit me anymore. Anyway, its all there in our living room. She is excited to be heading off to graduate school. I am excited that she’s paying for it herself with money she worked hard for this past year while she’s been living with us. So, next Wednesday we will pack it all in a 10’ U-Haul truck and make the 4 hour drive to her rental house in Winston-Salem near the campus of Wake Forest University. We will spend two days putting everything together and getting her settled in her exciting new place. Then maybe Pam and I will continue on down the road another 7 hours to Nashville to check on our son. He’s been in a new apartment for a few months now. When we moved him in and put all of his stuff together it looked great, but I’m sure its like something from Dante’s Inferno by now. After a couple of days visiting him Pam and I will make the long 9 hour drive back to Richmond for the second time to an empty nest.
The first time was truly awful, long grueling hours of tears and more tears. Then we actually left the parking lot and began the drive home! For a few weeks it was like we lived in a museum or some kind of depressing warehouse for used memories. But after awhile it dawned on us that we had the entire house to ourselves and since we were all out of tears we began in earnest to take full advantage of all that privacy. It was liberating. We discovered that we both actually really did love each other. What a bonus!! This time I’m sure there will be more tears and we will mourn a little the relentless march of time. But we know that what awaits us back here in Richmond is our home and the rest of our life together. It’s a life I wouldn’t trade with anyone, with the most beautiful, gifted, and tender-hearted woman in the world. Bring it on.