“What is that feeling when you’re driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? It’s the too-huge world vaulting us, and it’s good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.”
― Jack Kerouac,
The holidays are over. I know that for sure now because the house is quiet once again. Such is the life of an empty nester. With our daughter living in another state and our son attending college in another country, the ebb and flow of our family’s time together is felt more acutely because of its scarcity. While my husband and I might spend time individually with our daughter or son throughout the year, it’s growing more and more difficult for us to spend time together as a family. Last year the four of us were only able to spend a sum total of 15 days together between the holidays and a quick trip to celebrate our daughter’s graduation from college. How can that be? Only 15 days out of 365. What a strange reality.
Our brief time together with long gaps in between means goodbyes are especially difficult for me, and my kids know it. It’s funny how they each have their unique way of trying to help me through the process. My daughter is a “rip the band-aid off” type of person. Perhaps she hopes a quick-tight-squeeze and talk of when we’ll see each other again will make the goodbye less painful. My son, on the other hand, is a hug-you-for-a-long-long-time type of person. Perhaps he hopes holding me for that extra bit of time will give me a chance to catch my breath and rein in my emotions. Unfortunately, neither method has proven successful. Despite their best efforts, my voice inevitably cracks and tears roll down my cheeks as I watch a tiny piece of my heart walk away with them.
The fact is, my husband and I have raised two wonderfully confident and independent young adults. So, our lives are going to be full of goodbyes as we watch them head off in different directions, learning, growing and living life to the fullest. Maybe all those goodbyes will get easier for me. Maybe they won’t. But I try to take comfort in knowing each goodbye is a necessary gateway for their next adventure.
15 days together out of 365? Maybe that’s not so strange after all. Maybe that’s just a sign that we are all out there embracing life and “leaning forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.”