Sounds of an Empty Nest

14 Jun

I promised myself I wouldn’t cry.

I lied.

Even my husband doesn’t know . . . well, I suppose he does now. Every morning when I leave my bedroom, music greets me and pulls me down the hall and into my son’s room. There, I stare at the radio, its soft alarm light blinking at nobody, singing to an empty room.

On the bed lies the black bow tie I rushed all over town to find for him to wear at high school graduation (please, not a clip-on, Mom). Now it’s been left behind with his dress belt in a heap atop the ceremony program, reminding me he didn’t even stay home for ONE night after graduation day.

A now-familiar lump builds in my throat and I find myself sobbing. Again.

Am I actually crying over an empty nest? How can that be, when I looked forward to this so eagerly after 32 years of having sons in the home? Why all these tears when I’m so genuinely proud of this young man and the path he’s chosen? He’s ready. I thought I was as well.

Yet, I can’t put my finger on this mysterious pain. Sure, I’ll miss him. I miss his older brother, who’s been on his own for many years. But that’s not it. We’re supposed to miss them.

Perhaps part of my confusion stems from the volume of personal items he left behind, taking only what he needs for his summer counselling job at scout camp. The numerous pairs of size-14 shoes take up a lot of space and make the room seem lived-in.

A haphazard collection of books and coins lies scattered around the room, and there are clothes in the laundry basket. The entire picture seems to whisper, “I’ll be back,” as if the door will open any moment and he will nudge me aside with a sheepish apology for forgetting to turn off the alarm setting. He knows I can’t work this technology stuff.

There was a day when I could do anything. Bring storybook characters to life, locate missing socks, rescue crumpled homework from the bottom of the backpack, bring home the right flavor PopTarts. He’d look at me with such joy, making me feel like a superhero. My primary job was to be there when he needed me.

When he needed me.

I keep going back to that silk bow tie, which I pick up and caress idly. With a fresh wave of tears, I finally identify my pain. It started with this tie, the day before graduation. I recall my frantic scramble to one sold-out store after another, mumbling to myself.

He might have mentioned this more than a day before the ceremony. He has a perfectly good clip-on at home. If there aren’t any to be found, he can borrow one of his father’s long ties.

All of these musings were true, and if I’d suggested any of them he would have nodded and found his own tie, because he’s easy-going that way. To be honest, he really didn’t ask for the tie. He just hinted that he preferred to tie his own. Clip-ons are for cheaters.

But in my heart, I had a mission. He needed me one more time.

. . . which is how I ended up at the tuxedo rental store buying, not just a bow tie, but a silk one. An act of desperate love that has already been forgotten. A silk token lying in a pile of cast offs.

It’s both a joyous and a painful realization. His father and I have trained him up the way he should go, and now we’re reaping the consequences. He’s got this.

He doesn’t need me.

In fact, all I can really do for him now is pray, send the occasional care package, and turn off the alarm every morning. Of course, that third item wouldn’t be necessary if someone were to switch off his program settings.

Heaven help the person who does that.


When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. – 1 Corinthians 13:11


13 Responses to “Sounds of an Empty Nest”

  1. Cynde Gardner June 14, 2017 at 9:50 pm #

    I worked with Jerry a few years back, and stop in to see him now and again. I was just there Tuesday telling him how I read your blogs and he said I am sure there will be an empty nest one soon
    That was soon!

    • Portrait Writer June 15, 2017 at 3:02 pm #

      He doesn’t know what to do with me. Blogging helps me sort through things…:/

  2. Susan Holt Simpson June 15, 2017 at 12:52 am #

    Aw! I can so identify! My two oldest sons left home within a month of each other this spring. One son remains but is rarely actually at home. The empty nest is more complicated than I thought it would be! The Lord will see us through this also. 🙂
    Thank you for sharing this glimpse of your journey!

    • Portrait Writer June 15, 2017 at 3:03 pm #

      Thank you Susan. I do know it gets better. I’ll hang in there if you do. :\

  3. emptynestman June 15, 2017 at 5:31 am #

    Beautiful. Curating for the tribe.

  4. June 15, 2017 at 7:03 am #

    I so much appreciated your post. I also wrote an empty nester post as both of my boys left home at the same time. One of them also took the dog. The house became quiet. i had been a stay at home mom. Thank you for your musings. They touched my heart.

    • Portrait Writer June 15, 2017 at 7:43 am #

      Oh my, not the dog too! You poor thing! Thank you for your kind words. Hang in there, I hear it gets better. 🙂

  5. crenalds08comcastnet June 15, 2017 at 8:20 am #

    Loved it, but sympathize with your sad plight. Prayers for finding your way through the twigs of the empty nest!

    Sent from Mail for Windows 10

  6. Carrie June 15, 2017 at 6:42 pm #

    Rosemarie, this was such a raw, lovely, and heart wrenching blog.

    Yes, I cried in my coffee while reading it.

    And just in case you were wondering, my coffee was just fine.

    And also, in case you were wondering, he will never not need you (don’t let him, or Him, fool you). All the he’s and she’s and He’s have chosen you. And will always need you.

    You are just special.

    Love you.

    • Portrait Writer June 15, 2017 at 10:48 pm #

      Aw, you’re so good for me. So are my hims. 😉 Thank you. ❤

  7. Penny Cooke June 16, 2017 at 10:38 am #

    I so relate, Rosemarie. I still miss my adult kids, but I know they’re in God’s Mighty Hands. I blogged about it a while back, too. Prayers and Blessings to you.

    • Portrait Writer June 16, 2017 at 7:17 pm #

      Thanks Penny. I know they’re fine. God’s got this. Prayers and blessings back!


  1. Sounds of an Empty Nest | The Portrait Writer – Empty Nest Man - June 15, 2017

    […] Source: Sounds of an Empty Nest | The Portrait Writer […]

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