Last week was Kayla’s Spring Break from school. We didn’t even know whether she was coming home or not. She is hoping to take a trip to Spain this summer, with school. So, she has been looking for a job and was hoping to be working in Toledo over Spring Break. Sunday she called and told us she would be home on Monday since she hasn’t had any luck with a job yet. I’ve slowly come to accept that Kayla considers her apartment in Toledo to be her home now. When she is here she will refer to it as home, which cuts me like a knife. I’ve slowly come to the realization that this is no longer her home, even though I still haven’t accepted it. I’m weaning myself from counting down the days from the moment she leaves the driveway until the moment she’s supposed to come back.
Saturday night we went out for drinks with some friends. There were three other couples and we all had kids college age or college bound. So, a lot of the conversation was about high school kids wrapping up their last years, choosing colleges, getting scholarships, etc. It’s still difficult for me to hear about high school kids getting ready for college. All I can think about is Shayna. Shayna would be going into the home stretch of her junior year, the year they say is toughest, set to cruise through her senior year. She had said she had already done her college visits, with Kayla, since she went on most of those trips. She had her heart set on Ohio State, my alma mater, which was perfect for me. She was going to carry on the OSU tradition in my family. She’d be close enough that we could visit often, though I suspect, Shayna would have launched from the nest faster than Kayla and I would be crying about not seeing her enough. All of this was going through my head as my friends were talking about their kids and I was reflecting on being an empty-nester way sooner than I had ever hoped.
I’m not Buddhist, but I’ve studied Buddhism. One of the core tenets is clinging will cause suffering. I’ve done a pretty good job of not clinging to stuff. I don’t cling to youth. I don’t cling to friends. But, I thought it safe to cling to my girls. Maybe it was just rationalization because I couldn’t have stopped it if I had tried. One’s gone forward to the great Graduation, skipping right over college, her own family and old age. The other’s out of the nest. Missing them and knowing they aren’t coming back still cuts me like a knife.