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When the Children Leave

We go through the motions when the children leave,
buy special dresses or rent tuxedos for the wedding,
find a special Maine gift to celebrate the move to California,
write reminder notes for the bachelor son heading off
to the city after graduation.

But even though we participate
in these celebrations of the future
our hearts are tinged
with melancholy,
a vague awareness of the inexorable momentum
of time's pendulum
that sweeps our little ones out of our arms
and into adulthood,
overwhelming us with the golden weight
of the years gone by.

We were there once.
We know the thrill of independence,
the passion of a new love,
the exhilaration and anticipation of
starting to define who we are as adults
and what we can contribute during our time.
So we join the happy celebrants,
raising toasts, jumping into the conga line,
pulling out the family albums.

But when the guests leave and the house is empty
the world is oblivious to our loss,
indifferent to our longing
that they be ours once again.

So we carve
hollow hideaways in our hearts
where we keep forever the little boy
or the little girl
and do not share them
with the world any more
when the children leave.

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