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Empty Nest, Full Life


When our children left home for college, it was not one of life's easier passages. Still, you can find wisdom there. This poem starts sentimentally, but I do not think it ends that way. In fact, I dare to hope it will be a tonic for other parents. August 21, 2000.

Soon, soon, they'll be leaving soon.

You hear this silent dirge,

like an annoying chorus in the room.

So for eighteen years you've raised and loved them, and now it all seems to point

to that one auspicious day when they blow your happy joint.


True, there's more... an excitement and expectation that illuminates the way.

Still, you watch the days cascade like leaves in August's driest gusts

And you count the cartons piling up while searching for a hidden plus.


"Don't forget us -- we're the ones who love you!"

...your thoughts cries loud, and mainly unspoken.


Yet part of you wonders,


What part of me may soon lie broken?


As you prepare and taste the fast future, you know this surely is no death --

just a long-deferred dear parting, a time of bated breath.

There's tiny solace in that lonesome fact, though it salves the smarting.



The deeper wisdom,

it looks to me,

lies in coming days

and what they're bringing


in the newer shape of couplehood,

and time to do one's bidding.

So send them off! you addled parents like me, you cherishers of last moments.

Remember the thrills you felt, the joys of place and knowledge.

Hey, those crypts you thought you saw were just the marbled halls of college.


Yes, wise up, you parents like us! And avoid the sentimental sink.

The Book of Life's still being writ -- stay ahead of the fast-drying ink.

—— Albert Fried-Cassorla, August 21, 2000

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