Oh very young, what will you leave us this time
You’re only dancin’ on this earth for a short while
And though your dreams may toss and turn you now
They will vanish away like your dad’s best jeans
Denim blue, faded up to the sky
And though you want them to last forever
You know they never will
And the patches make the goodbye harder still
The weather has gone suddenly cold and rainy and it’s only the first day of September. It’s not as light in the morning when I wake up as it was two months ago. Football season has begun. All the signs of fall are here.
In the past, fall has been a depressing season for me. I love the promise of spring. I love the heat of summer. Fall is beautiful, but I cannot think of fall without thinking of winter and I detest winter. This is the third fall though that I welcome. Now, I welcome the passage of time. Every day, at least once a day, I pray for release from whatever contract I signed that put me here. I want to be here and I don’t want to be here at the same time. I don’t want to die right now, but i look forward to the day when it arrives.
Last night we had dinner with some old friends. We met them when their daughter was one year old and Kayla was nine months. When the kids were young, we would hang out together all the time having neighborhood “happy hours” (which included the kids), going to dinner, ringing In many New Years, etc. So, we’ve known them for exactly twenty years now. As the kids got older and took over our lives, we drifted apart as their son’s baseball took them in one direction and Shayna’s sports took us in another. Two years ago, right after Shayna passed, they had us over to dinner. We were new empty nesters, still in shock from how suddenly it had happened and trying to adjust to this new strange life that didn’t revolve around our children. Their son, a junior in high school at the time, was their only child left in the house. We talked about how someday soon, they would be empty nesters, too.
Someday, for them, came this week, when their son went off to college. So, they called us up to see if we wanted to have dinner. I laughed when Ty told me. Yep. That didn’t take long. The kids are gone. Time to adjust to the new life.
We sat and reminisced about old times. We practically raised their kids, they practically raised ours. We knew when we had them, that “someday”, this day would come when they’d leave the nest, but do we really ever believe that when we have kids? Do we believe that “someday” will ever really come? I reflected on our first visit to the neighborhood Swim & Tennis Club. The neighbors two houses around from us on the cul-de-sac were there. Their kids had just left the house and they were empty nesters. I remember thinking how old they were. Now, just twenty short years later, the blink of an eye, we are those old people. We’re the empty nesters. There’s a young couple in their house with a brand new baby- us back in the day.
There are good things that come out of the passing of a child. I no longer fear death. It’s inevitable anyway. We might as well look forward to it, and I do. I no longer fear the passage of time. The gray hairs, the change of seasons, these reminders of mortality are no longer things that cause dread, they are reminder that this mission is a temporary assignment. This will fade away like dad’s best jeans, but that’s OK. The goodbye here, means a hello there.