Empty Nest

By MeLissa LeFleur

This week my Facebook feed has been full of prom pictures — daughters with glowing faces and long beautiful dresses. A handsome son, dapper in his tux, with his arm around a shy teen girl. "Just friends" is written as the caption, but we all know that's probably not true. It just makes mom and dad feel better about it.

In just a few weeks, those prom pics will turn to graduation photos. That son will stand independently in his cap and gown and my friend will look on with pride. I'll flip through all 47 pictures and find myself crying without understanding why.

Then before I know it, there will be pics of the day my friend dreads most — the college drop off. There will be pictures of her son's dorm room, his roommate, and then a teary selfie my friend takes when she gets to the car. I'll write "Hugs" in the comments and I'll really mean it.

The pictures will stop for a while. For my friend, the loneliness will be so loud, yet the house will be so quiet. The calendar will be empty. She'll fight against the depression. She'll try to stay busy, but the empty nest will gnaw at her. I'll take her chicken noodle soup and send her a card. I'll listen while she cries. Gradually, she will find her life again...that life she had before kids consumed her.

I have an empty nest too. It's a very different emptiness, but I think it shares some qualities. Sometimes it gets lonely in the nest, especially when the nest isn't filled like we want it to be or like we expected it would be.

On this week of Mother's Day, I'm reminded how often I want life to slow down. I'm not talking about the busyness of this week and all the items on my to-do list. I'm talking about the bigger picture. Time is going by too fast.

I've known Mother's Day was coming and I've been trying to prepare myself. Some years are hard, others aren't so bad. Each year, I intentionally try to take my own advice and focus on my mom, rather than on myself. I try to not dwell on the failures — the ineffective fertility treatments, the failed adoptions, and on and on.

Over this past week, I've had an internal dialogue with myself. At any given time of the day, I ask myself to finish this sentence — "I feel..." Somedays, that sentence finishes with ease. Maybe "excited" or "eager" or "sad." But, this week I've noticed that there were a few times when no word came to mind. Just blank space. At first, that confused me and I considered sending a note to my counselor-friend (I still might).

Then I came to a realization that helped me understand. A long time ago, a friend told me about something she read in Laura Bush's book "Spoken from the Heart." I'll let our former first lady tell you firsthand about her journey through infertility.
The English language lacks the words to mourn an absence. For the loss of a parent, grandparent, spouse, child or friend, we have all manner of words and phrases, some helpful some not. Still we are conditioned to say something, even if it is only "I'm sorry for your loss." But for an absence, for someone who was never there at all, we are wordless to capture that particular emptiness. For those who deeply want children and are denied them, those missing babies hover like silent ephemeral shadows over their lives. Who can describe the feel of a tiny hand that is never held?
That's why I didn't know what word described how I was feeling. There isn't a word in the English language to describe it. I'll be honest. It's a very strange feeling. Over the past 19 years, I don't remember feeling that way very often and I don't know why that feeling has suddenly appeared.

I have a suspicion that it's those kids in prom dresses and tuxedos. They represent the speed of life. Many of my friends' kids are jumping the nest. Maybe I feel like I'm behind. I want to yell, "Wait for me! I want to come along."

On this week where we celebrate moms, I've asked God to fill up that emptiness — that emotion doesn't have an English word to describe it. Only God, the indescribable one, can do that.

I won't be sitting in my empty nest waiting and sulking...even when my emotions tell me to. Many years ago, I crawled out of that nest and into the arms of my Father. You see, to God, we're not valued by the fullness of our nest. Our nests do not define us.

Think about the real nesters — the birds. A nest is a place for birds to give birth, grow life, make noise. Once that nest is empty, it lacks purpose, and the birds move on with life. When that busy nest turns silent, take time to grieve, but don't stay there. Birds aren't designed to stay forever in their nests and neither are we. We're designed to be fruitful and purposeful.

If your nest is newly empty or if it's never been full, trust Him to fill you up today. You need not look at that empty nest with fear. I'm praying for you, dear sister. I leave you with this reminder:

Image Credit: Unsplash; untitled; Creative Commons

TagsBiblical-Truth  | Celebrating-Holidays  | Family-Life  | Christian-Life  | Depression  | Hardships  | Personal-Life  | Personal-Relationships

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Published on 5-5-16