Outside the leaves are falling, while inside the light seeping through the windows is changing. It gives the house a different feel and it is about this time in the fall when I notice our oldest son, Justin, has been gone for a while. The smile of watching him put the final items into a car bursting at the seams has faded, along with the sighs in unison as Melanie and I watch him pull away. These images alight in a hazy moment as I pass his bedroom….
I wrote this piece a while back when Justin was in his junior year of college. He’s a senior now and the departures haven’t gotten any easier. Never will. “Goodbye” is always hard regardless of what is ahead. While Thanksgiving, the next time the boy heads home, is still a circle on the calendar, I thought I would share this entry as I start the countdown to a beautiful ritual…
I never quite get used to walking by an empty bedroom. The home we moved into nearly 8 years ago became too big overnight when Justin left for college. Now a junior, his homecomings make us and the house fuller in ways beyond words.
An interesting ritual has developed as Justin often arrives in the early hours of morning a.k.a prime time for college students. Melanie and I take a quick “nap” and set the alarm. Then we wait in the living room and at just the right time we let Ace, the four-legged son, know that his boy will be home soon. Knowingly he heads to the lookout and waits. Once we told him too soon and he sat by the front door looking out into the night for an hour. Now we give him a 15 minute window and he peers out patiently, quivers when Justin’s headlights light up his “spot.” Ace is the official greeter and his howls of joy would dampen anyone’s eyes. Out In the street, he and Justin exchange greetings while mom and dad wait patiently on the porch for our turn. Home. The boy is home.