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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Empty Nester/Retirement (from work) (09/10/09)

TITLE: Hi Sierra....Bye Sierra
By Allen Stark
09/16/09


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What started with a scream is ending in a scream.

And I thought the pain was gone forever; the pain of bringing that beautiful bundle of joy into the world. But it didn’t end. Well, it did subside somewhat over the past eighteen years. But, here it is again—pain!

The pain seems to have taken up a position closer to my heart. It began nearly a year ago and has grown progressively worse. I am trying the best I can to stifle the occasional scream. But when I realize your bedroom will be empty, with the exception perhaps of weekends and holidays, I find myself searching for my pillow.

I thought allowing you to spend a couple of weeks away during the summer break would help prepare me. The only thing it did was push reality closer to the forefront, making it clearer that soon you will be away even longer periods of time, and then…

In the meantime, I have decided I need to make use of every opportunity to knit our hearts together even stronger, so that when the inevitable happens, I at least will have precious memories to cling to.

We have all survived the past 18 years of growing and learning from each other, helping to make it through rough untraveled areas, and what at times appeared to be roadblocks, developing closeness and an unending love. We’ve watched your wings grow stronger and stronger as you get ready to leave our nest to build one of your own.

I hadn’t thought much about the nest being “empty,” because it’s always been so full of stuff—clothes on floors, hair grooming items and make-up on sinks and dressers, empty food containers, dirty dishes, cups, glasses, etc., pictures taped to walls, sports equipment and uniforms in piles on the laundry room floor….The stuff I won’t miss….the girl that uses it…yes.



Yes, your mother screamed when you arrived. Now it’s your Dad’s turn to scream when you leave. I’ll try to emit only a silent scream, but you will be able to tell by my tears how much it hurts.

Oh yes, the “empty nest syndrome?” It affects men, too. This Dad was the first man who loved you and looks forward to sharing that bond of love in new ways, as you continue to spread your wings and gain new heights. And by the way, a little bird told me that being away from the nest makes it want to come home even more. I hope that is true.


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Member Comments
Member Date
Rachel Burkum09/17/09
It takes a lot to get me to cry... you did it here. I felt your heart and heard your scream. So real. So true. Great piece of feelings.
Beth LaBuff 09/19/09
I heard comments close to these from my husband, as our youngest is attending a university this fall. You've captured the thoughts perfectly. (I'm assuming this is your experience.) I hope Sierra comes home often. (our daughter popped in last night and surprised us). :) ... and you did know that (they say) "a son is a son till he takes a wife, but a daughter's a daughter the rest of her life." :) She'll be back! :)
Charla Diehl 09/24/09
I found this endearing slice of life most deserving of being highly commended. So refreshing to read a story like this from a father's perspective. Heartwarming, sensitive, emotional and--yes, I like this a lot. Congrats.
Lisa Johnson 09/25/09
I loved the "daddy perspective" in this piece. I find it very touching when a man can express his true emotions so freely... truly a sign of strength. Congratulations on being Highly Commended.
c clemons09/27/09
Reminded of the scream that Steve Martin emitted into a pillow in the movie "Bringing Down the House" when he had to face the fact that his little girl was growing up. Good job reflecting the father's perspective.