Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Empty Nest Blues

The Empty Nest Blues

The house wasn't the same to her any more. She remembered how alive and vibrant the house was with the kids all running around and arguing over every little thing. The kids have all grown up and moved on to their own lives. As each child left, the house slowly grew quiet until the last child left last week. He was headed off to college to get a degree and hopefully have a good job at some point. The past week had been the quietest the house had ever been. She was alone in the house. Her husband had passed away a couple years ago. She was still trying to deal with that and the loneliness that brought. Now with the house so deathly quiet, she wasn't sure she could take one more day like this. It was just too quiet.

Her thoughts took her back about ten years as she remembered the last four in the house all playing hide and seek together in the house. Sure they were older but they never tired of hide and seek. She could hear the giggles of the girls and hear the boys scheming together to find them. It was this time that one of the girls somehow got locked in one of the closets. No one could find her. She didn't make a peep. She was the Queen of hide and seek. A couple hours later we heard her pounding and yelling to let her out. She was in a closet and fell asleep when no one found her. Somehow the closet had become locked and she couldn't get out. When the rest of us finally figured out where she was, we opened up the door and all of us laughed. She wasn't happy about us all laughing at her but she mollified listening to our laughter and started laughing too.

That's what she missed the most. All the laughter. The laughter is what kept her going for so long. With nine kids it wasn't always easy to keep even a smile on her face. Some days she just wanted to pack her things and leave but the laughter was what kept her from leaving. She found peace in her children's laughter. Now it was all gone.

She could feel herself starting to sink into a very low place. A place she hadn't been in for a good twenty years or more. The place of darkness and depression. She frequented this place for a long time before she started having kids. Even her husband wasn't enough to keep her out of the abyss of depression. The kids gave her a reason to be alive, a purpose to get up each morning, and a reason to smile and laugh. What was so going to do now that the kids and her husband were gone.

The house was much too large for just one person. She supposed she would be better off selling the house and land and finding some place much smaller. She would ponder that for a while. She wasn't quite ready to part with the memories the house brought to her. Even in memories the kids made her laugh and smile.

She walked into the kitchen where on one wall there was a height meter for each child. Every year each kid would stand in their spot and she and her husband would mark off their height with a pen and then fancy it up later with marker or paint. She touched the chart for each child as a tear ran down her face.

She grabbed the tea kettle and put it on the stove to boil. She prepared a mug of instant coffee and Stevia and waited for the kettle to do its thing. She remembered all the cold nights she would make hot chocolate for all the kids and herself and they would sit huddled around the kitchen table sipping and talking and laughing. Must not forget the laughing. She wiped a tear from her cheek.

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