On birds flying the coop

Today, as they say, is the first day of the rest of my life as an empty nester.  Just dropped off my daughter at the airport for her flight back to college in Michigan.  My son, the younger one, left home last week to college as a freshman at the University of Florida.

And my husband and I are left with an empty nest.  The emptiness is overwhelming – I see signs of my little birds all over the house.  A pitcher of mango juice my son made and finished only half.  A half-empty (or is it half-full?) bottle of lemonade my daughter left in the refrigerator.  Their clothes.

I want them to know we love them  more than anything in this world.  Hopefully, we have given them strong roots, and powerful wings to fly where life takes them – preferably not too far from us.  They’re both wonderful, kind, funny and intelligent and my wish and prayer is for them to live up to their potential.

I’ll admit it – I’m on the verge of a meltdown, and fighting it.  I know this is normal, and a natural progression of life.  I tell myself how much worse it would be if they didn’t go to college and stayed home.

So I am making myself a list of things I have always wanted to do to help ease into my new life as an emptynester.

I went to the YMCA and got information on some classes.  It’s about time I learned to swim.

Maybe kickboxing? Always wondered about Pilates.  Have tried Zumba – with my two left feet, should be quite entertaining.

Sign up for a French language course at the University of North Florida – have always wanted to learn French.  Will come in handy when we go to Paris.

Start my bookclub in September, even if it has only 2 members since we only recently moved to Florida, and am still to make a lot of connections.

Start watching the TV series ‘Lost’ which I have in my netflix queue.  With 120 episodes it should keep me busy, right?

Work on my family cookbook.

Paint.

Make a new blog documenting the construction of our house with pictures.

And be available to my little birds when they need me.

Fly safe, little birds.  But know that your nest is always here, warm and safe anytime you need to rest your wings.

RIP, Austin Quinn

He was a charmer.  Charismatic, hilariously funny in a deadpan sort of way.  A close friend of my son.  All of 18 years old.  Graduated on June 3rd along with the rest of the Burris Class of 2011.  Had his entire life ahead of him.  Tragically, pointlessly dead, trying to get his car through a down railway crossing gate as he was late for work.  Hit by a train hurtling at 50+ mph. 

His sister, who is a close friend of my daughter, was with us when her dad called and told her, before she found out online.  She had just driven with my son and husband down to Florida the day before, and reached Florida at 3 am yesterday.   She had just gotten up, and we were all looking forward to a bright, sunny day that held the promise of good weather, the beach, food and doing nothing but hanging out.  It quickly unraveled into a black hole of a day where nothing made sense.   We put her and my kids on the next flight we could find back to Indy.

I just found the bagels she had put in the toaster oven.  She had just gotten up, and was getting breakfast.   I was cleaning out some unpacked boxes, and found Austin’s graduation invitation.  It was on June 5th.  He died on July 3rd.  

I believe in karma, and don’t think there are coincidences in life.  Everything bad that has ever happened to me has turned out either to be a good thing, or made sense later.  But Austin’s death will always remain a tragedy that makes no sense.  My kids are close to Sarah and Austin, about the same age and like all his friends, are consumed with grief. 

I didn’t know him too well, but he was one of my favorites of my son’s friends.  He always made me laugh.  My heart goes out to his parents, sister and all his friends and family.  You will be missed by all, Austin.  Rest in peace.

PS.

Readers: If you’re tempted to comment on driving habits etc. please please hold it.   The family does not need it.  Thank you.