Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Silence is Deafening

It has been quite a while since I visited this page and wrote a blog post, but it has been a whirlwind of a summer.  My son graduated from high school and then went off to Italy with a friend, staying at the apartment of the friend's aunt and uncle.  I had the good fortune of going off to France with my choral group for a tour celebrating and honoring the sacrifices of those who stormed the beaches at Normandy seventy-years ago.  No sooner had I returned than we all went off on a family vacation to New Hampshire with my husband's siblings and their families.

It was a whirlwind indeed.

And then we returned and the shopping and packing and readying began.  We were readying for our two boys to leave for college and leave me with an empty nest.

And on a cool and cloudy day (thank goodness) in late August, we loaded up the truck (thank goodness for that, too) and our spare junk of a car and headed south on the Garden State Parkway and then the New Jersey Turnpike. It rained a bit (oh, no), but it passed.

When we hit the Delaware Memorial Bridge, I knew this was real, that when I returned to my humble house, it would be empty, empty of boxes and bags, of folding chairs, computers, printers and bins of clothing.  It would be empty of boys.

It was a bit of a confusing afternoon.  My youngest was moving into his freshman dorm, into a room roughly the size of the back of my truck. Managing to find room to stand was no small feat. Managing to fit everything else in was a challenge.  There was barely room for the furniture that came with the room let alone a printer, a small TV and his desk lamp.  This was one seriously small room.

My older son, by comparison, moved into a palace, a gorgeous apartment he was to share with three of his friends.  It has a huge living room/kitchen combination with stainless steel appliances and granite countertops. The air conditioning is amazing.  They have a washer/dryer off the kitchen. They each have their own spacious rooms with the biggest closets I have ever seen.  There share two bathrooms.  My house only has two bathrooms. He did, however, have to build his own furniture from Ikea.  So far, it hasn't fallen apart.

My husband and son went off to get the younger one his textbooks while I took the older one to the market for food and to Home Depot to get his brother a desk fan.  The floor fan did not fit in the tiny dorm room.

When the dorm room was finished, it was nearly time for the floor meeting and their first dinner in the dining halls.  We said goodbye and then went off to dinner with my older son.  As a junior, he knew the ropes and didn't need any time to acclimate.

And then there was nothing left to do, but say farewell.  My older son looked at us and asked how parents did it.  He wanted to know how you raise children for eighteen years and then just say goodbye and leave them at college.  I found it an odd question to come from one who was only twenty years old.

But we did it.  We raised them or eighteen years and then we said goodbye and headed north back on the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway.

School began this week and I realized that fifteen years of drop-offs, bagged lunches, field trips, permissions slips, books covered in brown paper, parent-teacher conferences, PTA meetings, fundraising events, snow days, summer reading lists, homework, book reports, dioramas, yearbook photos, playdates, field days, soccer games, proms, concerts, report cards and pick-ups are officially over. As Jackson Browne once sang, "They say in the end, it's the wink of an eye."  He would be right.

And the silence in my house is truly deafening.

So long, my lovely boys.  Be well.  Have fun.  Be the best you can be.  This is the time of your life.