EMPTY NEST by Brenda Looney
I wonder if it was more than a coincidence that my son moved out in the fall of the year. I always think of autumn as the transition time between the lively, busy times of summer and the snowy white solitude of winter. It's a time for reflection and preparation. For some time David had been looking at houses to buy and we had accompanied him and looked at dozens of them. In the back of my mind I knew this time would come when my child, now a grown man of 24, would be spreading his wings toward independence and leaving our nest.
Growing up I had always warned him to be very sure of himself before he left home as the door only swings one way.....and that is OUT. It was not really a threat, but I wanted him to realize that being on his own has many rewards and responsibilities that go along with them. While I think he was a bit nervous, he was steadfastly sure that now was the time to move on. My husband and myself supported that decision and tried to help ease the transition. I was too busy to be sad yet about him leaving home.
I spent my free time shopping thrift stores and garage sales picking up household items that he would need for his new home. Finally he found the perfect house to buy and once the papers were signed we celebrated. Weeks went by and I continued to gather up and pack things for his new home. The day David closed on his house he anxiously and excitedly packed up his room. I walked into the bedroom while he was packing and it hit me all of a sudden. I choked back a sob and said, "I'm really going to miss you". He came over and put his arms around me and comforted me with a big hug. He said, "I'm only a mile away and I'll see you often." I knew it was true, but knew also that our lives would never really be as they were. He wasn't packing for a camping or hunting trip from which he would return home......he was leaving.......for good.
After he had left for his first night in his new home I wandered around his now empty bedroom and sat down leaning against the wall and closed my eyes. I thought back on the last 24 years of all the memories with my son here. "Honey, doesn't the baby look sweet sleeping in his crib?".......... "Oh no, David has learned to climb out of his crib......time for a 'big boy' bed"......... "Mommy, look what the tooth fairy left me"..........."Mommy, is it time yet to open presents? Has Santa come?".......... "Mommy, I'm sick to my stomach......I think I'm going to throw up".......... "Mom, I met a girl I really like".......... "Mom, don't forget tomorrow you're taking me to get my driver's license"........"Mom, I'm worried about this math class in college"........"Mom, I got a new job and I'm so excited"........... "Mom, I've changed my mind about what I want to do for a living".......... "Mom, I love you"....... "Mom, I know you are going to miss me.....but I'll be living only a mile away"......... Yes, all those memories of all the years spent as a family came flooding back and I had a good cry for what was no more. My little boy was now grown and I was heart broken. Where had the time gone to?
I decided to retreat to my garden to work on my fall cleanup and try to focus on something else. It was a bright, warm October day. I grabbed my shears and started cutting back the perennials. I reached up into a large honeysuckle vine that was overgrown to trim it back some and deep inside there was a small empty nest leftover from the spring when some sparrows had made it their home. I reached inside and pulled out the now empty nest. Holding it in my hands I sat down on the nearby garden bench to rest.
I looked at the nest and thought about how perfect each little twig had been molded and how much time it must have taken to make. The sparrows had gathered up each twig one by one and woven it into this perfect circle of love for their new family. The mother bird had sat on those eggs for a long time through all kinds of wind, rain and storms never leaving. When her eggs were hatched, she worked hard looking for food and lovingly fed those hungry little open mouths of her babes. At night she would pluck her own feathers to blanket her young to keep them warm.
The day came when it was time to push the babies out of the nest and teach them to fly on their own. They also learned from her how to gather their own food. No more was she to keep them under her protective wing. They had outgrown the nest and it was time for them to fly solo and gather their own food and look for a mate to raise a family with.
While I sat thinking, I remembered a story I had read some time back. After a forest fire in Yellowstone Park, forest rangers began their trek up a mountain to assess the fire's damage. One ranger found a bird literally petrified in the ashes, perched statuequely on the ground at the base of a tree. Somewhat sickened by the erie sight, he knocked over the bird with a stick. When he struck it, three tiny birds scurried from under their dead mother's wings. The loving mother keenly aware of impending disaster had carried her offspring to the base of the tree and had gathered them under her wings......instinctively knowing that the toxic smoke would rise. She could have flown to safety but had refused to abandon her babies. When the blaze had arrived and the heat had scorched her small body, the mother had remained steadfast. Because she had been willing to die, those under the cover of her wings would live.
What an awesome lesson I realized as I sat with tears in my eyes holding that little nest. I think I was destined to find it that October day when my heart needed mending. I was humbled at how much we can learn from nature if we just open our eyes to see. My nest is now empty but I look forward to the years ahead and observing my son work on his nest and the family he hopes to have one day. I'll stand back and allow him to meet the challenges of life and struggles on his own. Now that my son has finally flown away, I hope that I have taught him well. I'll always cherish the memories and thank God he allowed me the priviledge of being David's Mom.
Soar like the eagles my son!
This picture was taken in a tacky booth at the mall where we were school clothes shopping when David was in junior high school.
author unknown by me
A man found the pregnant cocoon of a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared. He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force it's body through that little hole.......then it seemed to stop making progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could and could go no farther. The man then decided to help the butterfly. He took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of cocoon.
The butterfly emerged easily but it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. The man continued to watch the butterfly because he expected that at any moment the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body.
It didn't happen! In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of it's life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It was never able to fly. What the man in his kindness and haste did not understand was the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening were God's way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into it's wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved it's freedom from the cocoon.
Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our life. If God allowed us to go through life without any obstacles, it would cripple us. We would not be as strong as what we could have been and we could never fly.
"And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, Speak to us of Children. And he said:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His
might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.
by Kahlil Gibran
Memories of an Abundant Life * Family Ties * Flowers & Friends
Grandpas' Picture * In Rememberance * Letter to My Father
The Time of My Life * My Father * To My Husband
Sweetheart Overseas * My Dove * My Favorite Places
My Garden in Bloom * My Animal Children * No More
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Christmas Gift * Pumpkin * Empty Nest * Beyond Tears * The Red Rose * Annie's Story of Great Depression *
Garden Pictures * Coming Into Manhood * I Love How You Love Me *
Time To Give Thanks * Autumn Memories * Sunset *My First Mothers' Day *
The Gift * Neighbors * Seasons of Life
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