He Is Gone

Just like that, my two weeks are up.

Sean is mostly self-contained. There are logistical things he needs me to do: drive him to the AT&T Store to activate his new iPhone, book his travel, pay for most of his meals while he's with me. Apart from that, he entertains himself most of the time, which was especially important last week, as I worked 10-12 hour days. When I did have time with him, it was mostly spent in passive activities, watching TV or movies. We played cards with Amy and Sarah, and once we were in New Jersey, with Amy's mother, Helene. But by and large, Sean entertained himself, reading, Facebooking, and playing video games.

And then, this morning, we dropped him at LaGuardia, and he flew away.

I've been playing this empty nesting game for nineteen years, and always, no matter how long I've been with my kids, no matter how stressful it's been, how hard they've been working at making me look forward to their departure, once they leave, I ache. It's a cruel joke nature or God or whatever the hell it was that figured out our wiring played on us by creating this parent-child bond. We work so hard to prepare them for life, want desperately for them to be strong, confident, successful, independent; and then when they become those things, and set off to make their own way in the world, we hate it. If my mother's any indication, we never stop hating it, never stop worrying about them, whether they're in trouble, whether they're happy in their relationships, whether they can make ends meet, hold onto a job, recover from whatever injury or illness comes their way.

Sean called me when he got to his gate at LaGuardia, just as I'd asked him to. He called me when he landed in Denver, and again when he made it to his gate there. I expect he'll call me again when in lands in Salt Lake, maybe even when he catches his shuttle bus to Idaho Falls. He won't call because he needs to; he'll do it because he knows it'll make me feel better, knowing he's all right, and because it'll make me proud of him for negotiating a complicated itinerary.

And then I'll go back to my default mode, locking up my sadness and longing in a box until I can finally be reunited with one or both of my kids the next, all-too-short, time.


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