I walked down the hall turning out the lights. I reached out to lock the door, but then thought, “I should leave it open, Camille isn’t home yet.” I turned down the hall. Suddenly a new thought stopped me in my tracks. “Camille isn’t coming home. This isn’t home to her anymore. The next time she comes here she’ll just be visiting her parent’s house.”
My breath caught! Emotions pushed at my insides, warring with each other for control of my heart - love and loss, pride and pain. Pain and loss were winning; I felt them growing. She’s really gone. Memories flooded my mind: her mischievous little smile, her infectious laugh, her sweet little face and amazing golden eyes.
My mind paused at the memory of her promise to never leave me. I could see her looking at me with her most serious five year old look, “I won’t ever leave you, Mommy.” I assured her that she would, that she’d get married some day and move away. “No Mommy! When I get married I’m going to move into the house right next door to you and live there.”
I smiled now as I had then, but now the movement of my cheeks caused tears to overflow. “Your husband might have something to say about that, Honey,” I had told her then, but he didn’t need to say anything now, because now she wanted to go with him.
I wiped my tears as they fell, but held onto the smile. They were so happy. The wedding had been perfect! She was so beautiful and he is a wonderful man. I felt love and pride struggling for control of my heart, and winning now. This is the way it is supposed to be; the perfect plan, designed by God Himself at the beginning, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one”.
A door has just opened in her life and she has gone through it to make her home with him. A door has just closed in mine. I turned the lock. It clicked. My throat was tight. I swallowed hard. She isn’t here; she’s at home.
The phone rang as I turned down the hall. My “hello” sounded toneless and dull in my ear.
“Hi, Mom, you OK?” My oldest daughter enquired.
“Yes, pretty much. Feeling kind of lonely in this big house now that Camille has gone and gotten married just three years after you did the same,” I meant to say it with a smile but I knew she heard the sadness.
I sat holding my coffee the next morning, feeling the silence of my house. My husband had left for work. I was alone. I heard a commotion at the front door. I got up, but before I could get far, I heard the little voice, “Gamma!” With arms outstretched she came running to me, “Gamma!” I knelt down to meet her. With a big smile and happy little laugh she was in my arms. I hugged her tight, picking her up and swinging her in a circle.
“Hi Evie! I love you.” I squeezed her tight and felt a burden lifted.
My daughter came around the corner with a smile, “Evie and I thought you could use some company this morning.” She smoothed her hands over her growing belly. “And I could use a little help. I’m so tired these days. Would you like to keep Evie for a little while today?”
“I would love to. I’m really OK, you know.” I assured her, and myself. “I guess it’s this empty nest thing everyone talks about.”
“Mom, you’re nest isn’t empty, just sometimes vacant. You have Dad, two daughters who live twenty minutes away and one who’ll soon to be home from college, two sons-in-law, and one-and-a-half grandchildren,” she reminded me. "Goodness sakes, Mom. You’ll be begging for an empty nest if things keep going at this rate!”
“Hey, Evie, do you want to help Grandma make some pudding?” Her tiny piggy tails bobbed and a chubby little hand grabbed mine as we walked to the kitchen. Amazing how a dark day can suddenly turn bright with the squeeze of a little hand.
“Even to your old age I will be the same, and even to your graying years I will bear you!
I have done it, and I will carry you; and I will bear you and I will deliver you.”
Gen 2:24b NLT
Isaiah 46:4 NASB
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