Category Archives: empty nest

A year in my life

A year ago, I had sent my son off to Europe and missed him terribly.

I think it was the Starbucks app of the week that was a picture a day app. I downloaded it, because;
1) it was free
2) I was thinking about documenting how much I missed my son

So, I took the selfie… and time flowed and I stuck to it and yesterday I got a notice that I had taken 365 photos.

One year, one insane year.

A son sent abroad at a very young age and being diagnosed with cancer. Not really sure which was hardest at the inception.

I missed my son terribly and was so happy when I reunited with him.

And hearing you have cancer sucks, sucks, sucks… and somehow it infiltrates everything.

But I missed my son and that was the hardest thing ever, and yes.. in a way, it was harder than being told one has cancer.

But the cancer things has its own craziness, craziness that makes everything outside the norm seem so much scarier.

So here is that one year of selfies, and as I sit here trying to figure out what all to tell my oncologist when I call him tomorrow, I think I look so much happier now than I did when I missed my son so much!

A slow and beautiful viewing of the world by car, plane and foot

I suppose it was a vacation, my last two weeks traipsing off to Austria to collect my Squink and bring him home and thus bringing back a sense of peace of having him in my close proximity.

It was an adventure, from my departure,  to my week with my in-laws (sans their son), the flight back to the EEUU (that is USA, for Spanish speakers) to a week with my mother in a state located in Americas heartland.

Living without your young child for more than one month is a strangely shocking thing, there is the idea that free time will occur, but the truth is, no such luck… if anything there were more demands for my time often coupled with phrases like “… since your son’ isn’t here…”

But, being busy was good, because the truth is that I missed my Squink sooooo much! And the freedom to trot off with friends who are not kid friendly or a wine with friends kind of thing was just not satisfying enough to make up for not having his insight into my daily life.

He came back speaking beautiful German, and considering that I last spoke the language at about his age, I feel like he has been able to bring back some of those skills for me… though I still have to make some pretty amazingly creative sentences to try to communicate with him… I am a bit pleased that speaking with him has brought back some of it, a good thing considering I have not spoken German in about 35 years.

I am also so very fortunate that I trust my mother-in-law enough to trust her with my son for such an extended period of time, though I try not to feel bad that she misses him so much not that he has returned home.

“In the first place, you can’t see anything from a car.” ~ ed abbey (my personal edit: you can, if you must)

As I was heading back, en route to visit my mother on a long trans-Atlantic flight I thought about my upcoming week with my mother… I glanced at the clouds outside and way below the window of the plane, smiling at Squink’s comment that we were flying way above the cloud line… I had noticed that as a very young girl, mentioning that we were visiting my grandparents in Heaven. My mother realized I had noticed this cloud thing and that I had made some connection… what is interesting, though, is that I actually thought Arizona was Heaven… and considering that I visited in Summer… I must have had a broad understanding that Heaven did not necessarily mean reasonable temperatures… and that the living were capable of visiting. I must have been a curiously interesting child.

Anyway, with inner peace restored by the mere physical presence of Squink back in my life, I smiled at that. Squink is rather religious so I wondered if he would have thought the same thing had we traveled as much as I did as a kid.

And there was something so perfect about going to see my mother on the trek back home, there was a ritual aspect to it on some levels; giving him the gift of time with both of his adoring grandmothers.

As such, I took pictures of the journey that Squink and I made, and will have to get those on here for the gentle tale of our pilgrimage home.

“As I make my slow pilgrimage through the world, a certain sense of beautiful mystery seems to gather and grow.” ~ A. C. Benson

Ancestors – 20/40

I miss my Squink.

While I am not ripping my hair out and crying all the time. I miss his smell, even his stinky feet. In a home with children (or with a love of nieces and nephews and such) there is something that can happen… these reminders of children seem to be everywhere, and I mean everywhere. A bath toy on the tub, pictures on the fridge, their special plates and cups. The other morning I opened my fridge and saw the family line he had drawn as a part of a cub scout project.

To know me is to know that I deeply value my family and can recite my ancestors (on my mothers side) back to 6 or 7 generations.

My mother has this thing she said when I was a teen (and making poor choices (like staying up too late and taking un-necessary risks)  that essentially boiled down to this;

Back to the beginning of time my ancestors made choices to bring up a defenseless infant. Those choices all helped raise that child, through famine, through war, through strife, in times of hunger… and I have the power to destroy that all with just one poor choice.


Anyway, when what she was saying hit me, it was pretty life changing. Not that I was bad, but being buddies with the schools biggest LSD dealer (never did that though, cross my heart mom) was probably not in my best interest and not in the interest of the six children I wanted to have to have a mom like that.

So, it piqued my interest. Most of my maternal side came to Arizona before statehood. They settled this land and if you have every really been in this desert, it really isn’t all that friendly to folks that don’t get how it works.

So, I learned about the Pennsylvania socialite who married a physician and traveled with a chaperon by stage-coach to visit a young physician that worked with the tribes. 

I learned about that physician who learned the languages of all the tribes he worked with and translated for them and even advocated to US congress on their behalf for water rights after the building of Roosevelt dam.

Dr. Ellis at his farm in Phoenix

I learned how his daughter, Dorajean, became one of the first school teachers in the town I live in now. 

His grandson, my grandfather, would go to work on our Arizona mines, as well as build our bridges and and dam (including being held in the US to work on building Boulder Dam, instead of being sent to WWII – turns out he was colorblind anyway).

His great granddaughter, my mom, would travel the world and raise two children while just being awesome (she learned how to trick ride with the Ecuadorean Army and is an learned welder).

All of that is just so rich to me. 

So it was a delight to see that my son had picked up most of my stories about his Arizona heritage and was able to complete most of this family tree… using their nicknames for the most part. He just couldn’t remember where the coctor was  (it is C.H. below).

Desperately searching for C.R.A.C.K. 12/40

cts of

(hat tip to my dear Doralice for the inspiration)

To say I feel like I am sinking is an understatement.

I feel pulled in so many directions with some nit-picking thrown in that I am just starting to wallow.

Aside from a very small number of people that I am very, very close to, I don’t trust anyone with anything that involves me.

I am to the point where things that would normally have irritated me just don’t matter.

I am in a state of ennui, apathy, give-uppedness… whatever.

I mentally tear myself to shreds for being a failure for any sort of random thing that really just isn’t.

I would say I was depressed, except I am not… what I feel is tired.
And I miss my son. A lot.

I need to make myself get out, take a walk around the block. Move.

I need to start looking for the one thing that makes me feel gentle (which is what I call how I feel when I am content), that is… noticing small acts of kindness.

People right now, don’t seem all that nice…

So, what have I seen that is nice? 

(:: birds chirping ::)

How about this

A smiley face, that is a happy piece of graffiti… right?

Donate to a cheese maker?

and then…

Maybe I should go put googly-eyes on something random in a public space?  

And then I should vote for my cousins band

After which I should volunteer with some of my favorite people?  

Then I should have a chat with an imperial guard?  

Or become a tragic hipster with an ironic mustache?


I could throw all my values out the window and get my lips done?

Then I could pontificate on why this kid looks like this man
(I am not Vulcan nor have I ever mated with one, but really… how?)

But, seriously, I think you should donate to the cheese maker (I did)… 
my-most-favorite-and-someone-whom-I-would-consider-to-be-the-worlds-best-cheese-monger recommends her.

We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.

I feel better now! The smiley face worked! 

An empty nest – 1/40

Currently, in the United States it is common to send your children away in certain populations… ones that come to mind are the really wealthy and the really disenfranchised (e.g. – parents in prison). I would assume that the wealthy send their kids off to boarding schools and the disenfranchised lost their kids to the courts or to other family members during their incarceration.

Registering in the village with the Mayor
So, I find myself now with an empty nest… I have moved my 9 year old to Europe to live with his grandparents and it is honestly something I struggle with. 
The weeks that led to his departure were emotionally agonizing, though that may be because of other incidentals in my life… but being with him was my priority and I kept to that pretty well (though in all honestly, not much changed because I take him everywhere with me). 
The day he left was emotionally intense, and I was saved by the need to arrange a visit to a mechanic and some official activities like withdrawing him from his school here and fighting off some form of cold.
I spent the day sleeping in his bed (around dropping off and picking up my car), his scent still lingering on his pillow… breaking in to tears that my dear Squink was not around. It was tough, and I still feel a certain pressure in my heart when I think of that first day.
Facetime with me, while Shatzy was still with him
It gets easier, and there is the new freedom to be relished, but the transition has been tough. He is 9, and a very independent 9. I have talked to him, and his words proclaiming he misses me seemed to be intoned with the thought that that is what is expected of him to say. He told me I had interrupted his game and was forced to call back later. I suppose that this is all wonderful and I am most certainly happy that he seems to be settling in so well there but the part of me that aches for him… honestly wishes he missed me a little… and then I have to think how horrid that I wish that kind of despair on him just to feel like I am  missed and loved.
Makes me feel horrid. I try to focus on the fact that his adjusting so well is a testament to my parenting, but I honestly believe that this kid was born with an independent streak… he picked when he was born, just as he has picked most of what has happened to him since.
His biggest lament when he left, one he held guardedly close was that he felt friendless. Though when pushed, he would admit to having some close ones, it was as if he wanted more. It seems that moving from a large class where cliques are present to a small class where cliques are less obvious that his wish has been granted. I hope that this perception stays with him, that he has a lot of friends.
What I know is that I miss him and that I am missing him terribly every day and that I hope he has the most wonderful time on this adventure… and that hopefully, I figure out what my adventure is in this experience.
Dealing with jet-lag when he first arrived

1 week

Dear Squink,

By this time next week you will no longer be in Arizona. You may be leaving the United States, even. You will be in an airport or on an airplane heading off… away from me.

(pause, just typing that made me cry)

Yes, you will be on a plane, headed to Austria with your dad. You will be headed for what will surely be a most magnificent trip. You will experience so many new things. There is a part of me that is so very excited for you! Oh, actually, in a strange way all of me is excited for you.

However, I feel helpless. For the first time since you were created, I have to give up complete control over your life. Sure, you may have thought you ruled your world, but I promise you… I have been pacing back and forth behind you, snarling and roaring and even staring down others and basically just making sure you are all right. All my choices have you involved in them at some point. Every. Single. One.

So, I have been preparing for your departure by trying to picture losing that ability, the ability to pace around behind you snapping at mean kids and adults alike. You live in your own world, where you can reconcile evolution, laws of physics, and other wonderful sciency stuff with the existence of God. This makes you happy, but you don’t see people as being capable of being mean.. thankfully, I get to do that for you. However, this happy look at the world makes me proud of you and I hope against hope that you won’t let either side dissuade you of keeping your feet firmly planted in both realms.

But, the truth is my dear… I have felt a constant and unending rush of adrenaline coursing through my body for the past week or so. I mean constantly, like of every minute… a feeling like I either need to run away from a T-Rex that is trying to eat you and me or as if I need to punch someone in the face.

Yes, it is that fierce… but we are talking about how much I love you.

Sweetness, I am going to miss you so much! I am going to miss your goofy smiles and funny statements and I am just feeling like my world is going to slowly implode while you are away. For the last week, you are the only thing that has been able to make me smile…. everyone else has either seemed insignificant or inconsequential or just downright pissed me off. Yes, I know I said pissed, but I mean it (and that is why we save those words up, for the times when we really mean it).

Kiddo, I keep telling myself that I want this to be a wonderful experience for you, and I mean it when I tell it to myself (and even when I don’t tell it)…

My job, the one that I was gifted with by life universal and all the wonderful powers that be, is to be your mom. That is so deeply sacred. So, I feel like this experience (of you moving away) is the most sacred act of mine upon that compact. It is hard, unbelievably hard for me to let this happen… without kicking and screaming… see, I know I am going to have to let this happen eventually, I was just given an opportunity to let go a bit earlier than most.

I love you Squinky, with all my heart.



PS – You know that in the event of a zombie apocalypse that the first thing I grab is you… so matter where you are… because you are who I would want to be with.

PPSS The other day when I asked you my daily questions on our way home, your answer to “Tell me about something that made you feel loved?” You answered by telling me that it was making this picture!