A week ago I sucked in a deep breath so I wouldn't cry and I mumbled a soft goodbye to my youngest child, leaving him not far away — Regis University in Denver — but at the end of a time.
He will visit, but it will never be as it was. John is the last of five blended-family kids to leave. Today my wife and I are empty-nesters. We are alone in our house.
And so I sit in my home office now and I glance at pictures of my son, who will play baseball at Regis. And I glance at notebook pages of diary-like thoughts that I jotted down over the past week, notes about John's departure for college and about his life. In my great sadness, let me share some of these notes with you.
Thursday, Aug. 26. We loaded the car with bags of T-shirts and shoes and a new computer printer and lots of coat hangers and wall posters and set out for Regis. John seems happy ...
Excuse me for a moment. While writing this sad and melancholy story I've just been interrupted by my wife, who has barged into my downstairs office and ordered me upstairs. I think she's going to announce that she's headed back to school to pursue a new career, likely in the medical field, judging by the nurse's outfit she is wearing. I had no idea they made them so short.
Yipes! I'm back. Turns out my wife is, uh, not going to nursing school. And she's on the board of directors of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center and the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and is a trustee of Colorado College so I don't want to embarrass her, but if this is the new face of American health care I can say this: It has a big, stupid grin on its face.
I need a nap.
OK. I am awake now and will continue writing about the awful sadness and loneliness my wife and I are feeling as empty nesters.
We arrived at Regis just before noon and moved John's things into his dormitory. We met his roommate, Tim. Or Jack. He's from Grand Junction. Or Los Angeles. I don't know. What I do know is that my wife is here in my downstairs office again. This time she apparently needs my help in preparing a dessert because she's holding a can of whipped cream. I'll be right back...
Sweet Jesus! This empty-nest thing is way tougher than I'd thought. Where was I? Oh, yeah, we moved John into his dorm at Regis or the University of Denver or someplace up there. Last Thursday. Or Friday. I forget. Who cares?
Speaking of school, I am about to go back to the classroom myself, in the sense that she's here in my office once again, this time with a pair of old-fashioned glasses and her hair pulled back and a really tight naughty schoolteacher outfit. I tell her I'm exhausted and have to write this story. She laughs mockingly, moves close to my computer and says something about "playing with your mouse."
Maybe we should adopt.
Anyway, we left John in Denver last Thursday but went back a few days later for a mass and a blessing ceremony, after which all the parents are required to leave their children. It was very sad, with lots of hugging and crying, but soon we were back home.
And I do not want to get into any great detail about that evening, but I will say that I now have some kind of a chafing-type rash from the heavy rubber fireman's pants she made me wear. And not that we're counting, but I "rescued" her twice and then we slept for 19 hours. The cats almost starved to death. This empty-nest thing has been rough on them, too.
John has been gone for a week now and I miss him. I miss Brittany, Maggie, Brian and Nick, too. Maybe they'll all come home for Thanksgiving.
I just hope they call first so I can get the stripper pole out of the living room.
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