When all the planning is complete. When all the vows have been said.
When all the wedding décor disappears from its current abode in my dining room.
When all the gifts have been re-boxed, packed up, and stacked into a moving truck headed for their new location.
When the basket of towels and sheets waiting to be laundered revert back to small loads. When the table is set for dinner for two, not three.
When three bedrooms are tidy and I can walk unhindered through my basement void of oldest daughter’s furniture and boxes.
When hubby and I drift into that steady routine consisting of work, cooking dinner together, and quiet evenings in our country home with the cat dozing on one of our laps.
When we passively shuffle along dulled by the monotony of everyday life like travelers seated on a passenger train, heads tilted back with eyes closed, just riding…gliding…lulled by the steady rhythm, jostled a little back and forth as the train clickety-clacks along the journey tracks and we endure the ride.
Will that be what it’s like? When I wander through the house, empty-nested again. And I wonder when the misty blanket of empty nest fog will try to envelop my thoughts and emotions once more.
Fall, my favorite season of all, will be ending and the dark night of winter will descend upon us. Color will vanish for months and be replaced by hues of browns, blacks, and grays.
The trees will bare their limbs, the grass will fade to brown, and the flowers will all commence their winter night slumber. The sky will grow dim and gloominess will usurp fall’s colorful power and reign while the sun plays hide and seek and the days grow shorter and darker.
And I will have to fight the dreariness, the lack of sunshine, and that empty nest feeling all over again.
I usually enjoy winter with its lacy snowfall and its icy curtains. I love the distinct changes of seasons, so I generally welcome winter’s arrival when Jack Frost nips at my nose and Suzy Snowflake dances through the air.
But I’m not sure this year about winter. I’m not sure that the season’s artic air isn’t going to knock the wind right out of me and lay me flat.
When ol’ man winter wraps his icy fingers around my home, I think I will struggle to shake his frosty grip from my state of mind.
As I grab wooly blankets and sweaters to keep me warm, I might also need to grasp spring-like reflections to break free from the chain of those empty nest moments of sadness, especially because none of our newlyweds will live in the same state as Mama and Papa. Our times spent together as a family will be less often and holidays will be shared with their other families.
It’s a cycle that must be lived. A reality of life that must be forged through as the parents of newly married young adults. And for me, it will prove a triple whammy when all three of the weddings are completed next month.
Just as the bushy-tailed squirrel gathers sustenance with his acorn stash for winter survival, I will gather my to-do lists, make plans to keep busy, and remember to give thanks for the stockpile of golden happy memories we made this year – the year of the weddings.
I will stack them in heaps of joy, hoarded in the hideaway of my heart to produce them when the empty nest sadness threatens to encase me.
I will be grateful in the upcoming days of opportunity, even though they may be tinged with bitter-sweetness. Because it is a choice to embrace joy amid the sorrow, to welcome the sun light through the clouds, to feel love’s warmth in the shroud of fogginess.
In the face of winter’s gloom, I will choose joy.
And I will pray. For blessings for my children – all six of them now. For renewed vigor and purpose for hubby and me.
And I believe I will pray for spring to come early.
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.” ~ Ecclesiastes 3: 1-9