Wide Awake: The Empty Nest
I knew it was coming. And here it is.

Four years ago, when my oldest daughter Klein graduated from high school, I knew it would be only two years until Maura followed and then another two before Marirose did the same. The thought of all three girls leaving the house was heartbreaking. And here we are. September. And yes, it’s heartbreaking.

There was actually a time earlier this summer when I started to think the empty nest wouldn’t be so bad. I saw it as time for Joe and I to do things together, and that sounded nice. But once August 1 hit, reality hit too. And it hit like a ton of bricks.

The biggest difficulty I’m having is this enormous sense of loss. Joe reminds me the girls will be back. And I know that. But something won’t be back, and that’s a house filled every day with young people talking, sometimes bickering, often laughing, doing homework, asking me to sign papers, leaving everything they own all over the house. This abundance of life that oozed onto every floor – and sometimes made me crazy – won’t be there anymore. Instead, the house will be eerily quiet. Very still. I can’t help but feel there will always be something missing. That’s painfully sad.

Lately, I’ve been taking pictures of Marirose doing ordinary things, like sitting on the couch watching TV. I took one of her sleeping the other morning when I was leaving for work. For years I’ve walked out of my bedroom, past hers and down the stairs to go to work. I’ve always looked in her room and saw her sleeping in all kinds of crazy positions, sometimes with the comforter up to her forehead, sometimes with it flung off the bed. I took a picture so I could see that again, even if I wouldn’t be seeing it for real. This may mean I’m completely out of my mind, but I think I’m trying to grasp moments of time. Save them. Even though I know I can’t.

Friends who have lived in empty nests for some time tell me it’s all going to be OK. Actually, they tell me it’s going to be great. I understand that, and I believe them. I just don’t feel it right now. In fact, just thinking I’m eventually going to be OK with this makes me sad, as if enjoying an empty nest means I’m forgetting all the joy my kids brought into my life. I know that doesn’t make sense.

My goal now is to fill up every weekend with all kinds of exciting plans. I also expect I’ll be attending a lot more business events during the week and visiting the gym on a much more regular basis (that could be a good thing). I have found one way – really the only way – to keep from feeling the sadness is to keep busy, so I’m filling my calendar. I’m about to become the most active person in South Jersey.

My hope is I’ll be making the days pass a little quicker, and when they do, maybe I’ll feel a little better. I’ll be starting a new stage of life, which is what’s supposed to happen. The girls will be entering new stages, too, and that is definitely what’s supposed to happen. Joe and I have been guiding them to this moment. They just got there so fast. I know they’re ready. I’m just not sure I am.

I hope you’ll join me on Monday, Sept. 12 at our first Women’s Empowerment Panel at The Mansion. I can’t stress enough how great these nights are. Tickets sold out last year, so don’t wait to decide to go! Purchase tickets here.

September 2016
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