Empty but Full

by cindy

I wander throughout the house glancing at the half-empty soda bottles; the glasses of partially sipped water; towels—tons of towels—both damp and dry; a t-shirt here and a pair of socks there, forgotten in the flourish of packing; rumpled beds; diaper-scented trash; scattered toys and piles of children’s books. It is a home seeking its return to order.

It can wait.

I am busy, now.

I am busy remembering.

Listening carefully, I can still hear the voices. The chatter. The giggles. The occasional squawk and sniffle. The laughter, loud and long. I can hear the grunts and giggles of the nine-month-old amidst the questions and commands of the two-year-old. I can hear the whispers of the five-year-old trying the outwit the younger ones whose sights are forever set on what he holds in his hands. I can hear those sweet sounds of cousins as they learn about each other, building memories of this time together. It is music—a symphony of the purest form.

I remember the sharing and also the not sharing, recalling the calm, parental approaches to avoid or resolve conflicts. I listen for the sounds of these young adults, my “babies,” and their spouses, as they share stories with each other. Stories filled with wisdom culled from their experiences in these relatively new roles. They are so wise, so patient, so gentle and loving. They are far better versions of what I once was.

I still see the wee ones’ eyes lighting up at the sound of the train whistle and at the taste of the ice cream cones. Adventures large and small filled our days: blowing bubbles on the porch, racing in the the grass, splashing in the pool, drawing in the studio, singing in the car. Their delight filled my heart.

Tomorrow, I will begin to sort the toys and put them away. I will remove the leaf from the table and return the extra chairs to their proper corners. Bit by bit my house will once again look like the empty nest that it is.

Today, though…Today I will continue to wander in and out of rooms, smiling as I go. Remembering with gratitude the life I have lived and the family I have loved. And then? Then I shall begin planning for our next time together.

July 2014