Empty nest refers to when the "eagle" has learned what it needs to fly and then leaves the nest for good. I am reminded of this as my grandson, Josh, prepares to leave again to follow his chosen path in the US Army. Flying away - yes; level two - grandson. And I am feeling sad and happy at the same time. I'm sad because he won't be close by to spend time with now and then. I'm happy and thrilled for him as he steps out into his own life.
I remember stepping out into my own life at the age of seventeen. I don't recall any family involvement in my departure. My family had scattered five years before - no nest to empty. I left home with no celebration or fanfare to travel to Los Angeles, catch a Greyhound bus to points east to college. I took my most prized possession with me - a second hand portable sewing machine. Did I feel sad and happy then as I traveled on my chosen path? No. Mostly I felt relief. And I was excited about what was coming next - a totally new and different place and people. I was not afraid!
Fast forward to Empty Nest - Level One. I had created my own nest which eventually became populated with four "eagles" - four sons. Three of them were in the process of finishing high school in quick succession and preparing to leave the nest. I did not handle this well. What do you do? How do you feel when the world you created - your family - starts to change, starts to move away from you? They are supposed to leave the nest but I had not prepared myself for this eventual reality. I did what I knew - I avoided feeling anything. I just decided my life was over - even with one more son still at home. I was not operating on all cylinders. And, sadly, I did not know how to articulate verbally or in writing how I was or was not feeling. Each son moved on into their own life in a variety of ways. The good thing was that it never dawned on me to get in their way.
Fast forward to Empty Nest - Level Two. I am watching, seeing my grandson move into his life. It's okay! This is the way it is supposed to be. I just get to love him, stand back and let this eagle fly. And with another representation of my prized possession (at seventeen) I am creating and fabricating a special quilt for Josh. It's kind of full circle. I can enjoy this process of making an heirloom while missing my grandson. How great is that! I can have my tears and smile too!