Where did the years go?

Empty suitcase.So, it’s down to this. Empty suitcase, empty Kleenex, empty nest. But how can empty be the right word, when I’m so filled with emotion? My husband Ed and I are back home now after delivering our “baby” to college–more than 1700 miles away. Chicago may feel distant, but her brother is even farther, having left just this week to study abroad in Nottingham, England. I haven’t checked the exact miles, but it’s eight hours ahead of us, so he’ll often be sleeping while we’re awake and vice versa.

Empty seats at the table

So here, we are: braced for a Thanksgiving missing both of them. Yes, I know I’m not the first and many others are going through it, it’s just that now I can relate. And now I look back from a perspective of wistful knowing, like gazing at mothers with babes in strollers, or passing a Little League game and longing to be there cheering them on.

All those years, where did they go?

But look at that smile!

Turnquist daughter smilingPassing through the Northwestern University arch with throngs of new freshmen, our daughter looked so happy–and so grown up. Was this the same little girl who called me “the best mom in the whole world even including the aliens,” the same voice that asked, “What’s for dinner, mom?” so many times? One and the same, though it’s hard to accept.

A mother’s woes

I have to admit I worry about her. Probably more than usual–no, a lot more than usual. Since the day she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, I’ve worried. How can I not, knowing her blood sugar can plummet to life-threatening lows? She’s a champ, though, at taking care of herself, calculating carbohydrates and administering shots of insulin, and that helps.

Amelia, Ed and me at Northwestern.Still… when Ed and I said our last goodbyes on the campus lawn in the midst of the crowd, I wanted to bawl my head off. Instead, I held it together, no more than a few loose tears. It isn’t about me, and I know that. More than anything, though, I’m happy for her. Overjoyed, to tell you the truth. She has so many adventures ahead, and so many opportunities: new studies, new friends, falling in love maybe, and, eventually–dare I think?–a child or two of her own. It’s hard not to go there with milestones like this.

Adventures in England

Turnquist son posing in Nottingham, England.I feel the same for our son. He’s having a blast, that’s plain to see, only a few days in central England and already seeing the sites and making friends. Is this the same kid who, as a towheaded boy, called me his “hero”? The same who in the seventh grade hit a gorgeous grand slam only to miss, through all the excitement, home plate? Oh, the angst and the laughter, the memories and the fun. He’s a young man now, seizing the day. And he’s seizing it so hard it overwhelms me with pride.

That’s Nottingham Castle!

Turnquist son in England.No, empty is not the right word. Full is more like it: full of emotion, full of hope, and full of anticipation for my children’s futures. Sure, it’s quiet around here and I’ll need to keep busy, but that’s not a problem. I’ve got a second novel to finish!

Plus, Ed is here to keep me company. We’ll have time now to get reacquainted as middle-aged folk. I see more date nights in our future, perhaps the proverbial class on ballroom dancing, who knows?

Time keeps on slipping…

And yet, the past few mornings when the high school bus stopped at our corner, I couldn’t help looking out. I crept to the window and stood there in my robe like some Gladys Kravitz. I had to watch all the new kids getting on board. Friday morning there were nine. All of them sons and daughters, climbing those steps, whether they know it or not, into the future, nearing the day when they too will leave home.

–As always, your comments are appreciated. Just click Leave a Reply below–

14 thoughts on “Where did the years go?

  1. Well said Marcia! I will post it for my friends who are in your spot. Whoever said the days are long, but the years are fast was certainly right.

  2. Hi Marcia – I understand what your going through. This of course is a change in your life and your children’s lives. Rejoice in their accomplishments as well as yours! When you have the opportunity to visit them – enjoy the experience!

    A couple of tips – don’t change their bedrooms into that special sewing room or guest bedroom. When they come back home – they still like to see their bedroom the same. Also do not get a pet to replace them. I did that and it does not work. I loved that cat, however it did not replace my son. 🙂

    Take Care,

  3. Oh, Marsh, I’ve been thinking about you, knowing it was just about “that time.” As always, I love your reflections, can completely relate to them, and can also tell you, being somewhat on the other side now, that it’s good, right, and even gets easier! Hang in there, empty nester. Give that Ed a little more lovin’ with all your extra time . . . yeah, right! 🙂

  4. Just read this mom–I love you and dad so so so much it is impossible for me to express. It’s nice to hear your voice in your writing, it makes me cry tears of joy! I could not have asked for better parents. Honestly. I am so blessed to have you both in my life.

    Thinking of you always, Amelia ❤

  5. Just finished your book and I found it joyfully fun, extremely engaging, really riveting and thought-provoking. Discussed it with my sister, Kathy, and she said she wants to read it again! You brought many wonderful memories back to me and I have been reliving my childhood in the Portland area as well as what it meant to grow up as a precocious preacher’s kid. You write beautifully. Enjoy your empty nesting! Will share and recommend this book to many.


    • So nice to hear from you, Margie–and I’m thrilled you enjoyed the book! It meant so much to me to be able to interview you, your mother and sisters for such a wealth of information about your “preacher family” years. Your stories and memories brought so much depth and texture to the backdrop of the novel, even if the plot was my imagination! Thanks also for recommending the novel, Margie… Reviews on Amazon and Goodreads are also a major help–I have faith that a big breakthrough is still ahead. 🙂

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