It’s official. Eddie and I are empty-nesters. We dropped Emmy off at her new home (Northfield Mount Hermon) on Friday and returned home that evening to three exuberant dogs, but no other humans. It’s our new norm, and it’s going to take some time to adjust.
My Saturday looked remarkably similar to the days leading up to having each of my babies…cleaning and organizing. This time, however, I wasn’t looking over checklists, making sure I had everything I needed. It was almost the exact opposite. What have I been holding onto for far too long? What can I get rid of to gain space, to regroup, to simplify? What can I physically organize to help bring internal peace? Working my way through the piles and the clutter, I found a lot.
I found Jacob’s baby book, diligently filled out through his first birthday. I found a letter written to Jacob by his grandfather, musings of the man Jacob might someday become. Tucked into this book was his birth announcement which I made by hand, a printed invitation to his first birthday party, and a 2″ x 4″ card with his tiny 4lb 11oz footprint.
I found Sam’s Bar Mitzvah album, and then found myself sitting on the floor slowly making my way through the pictures, page by page. Wide-mouth grins, teeth tied together with braces. Adult friends, some who remain friends, some friendships no longer intact. It’s incredible to think how much can change in five years.
I also found the two albums filled with pictures when Eddie took me to Japan in 2004, early in our ‘dating phase’. AKA, before cell phone cameras. I brought 18 rolls of film with me for our two week trip, and remember the excitement of dropping off the film. ‘Back then’, there was no immediate way of sharing our experience with the kids, my friends or my parents. Instead, we had to wait for the film to be developed, a delayed gift. The albums contain origami cranes made by students, a hand-drawn map made by the taxi driver who took us to Mt. Fuji, and images of two much younger-looking versions of ourselves.
I found shoeboxes of pictures, files of artwork, headphones I thought I had lost, a binder half-filled with Babycakes recipes, a favorite stuffed animal, unopened cookbooks.
Most of all, I found time. Endless amounts of time. Time to sit on the floor sifting through the past, time to do a live Peloton ride to raise money for Texas, time to fill six garbage bags for Eddie to bring to the dump, time to play with the puppies, worry about the kids, talk to my mother 4 times, make lists of other things I want to do, or clean, or organize.
My heart is in many pieces right now. It’s in DC, in Hamden, and now it’s in Gill, MA. It’s in my throat and it’s in my head. I know I’ll get used to parenting from afar in the form of quick bursts of texts and occasional snapchats, or even more rare, with FaceTime or a phone call. I have a feeling the process is going to work in the reverse. First to adjust will be the head. Last to come around, the heart.
Until then, you will find me tucked away sorting through the past so I can make room for the future.