Life Lessons

New Directions

It has been a very busy couple of weeks. New directions are sometimes dramatic 180s, and other times they are gentle curves. The curve finally became goodbye last week.

After 22 years of marriage and 20 of those parenting, my wife and I are now officially empty-nesters…and boy does this nest feel empty! What to do? Where to go? When to stop or go? Why to do this or the other? All of these questions and many others have been swirling around my brain now that it is just us and we are both pretty well-rounded independent adults. What is our purpose now and what do we do with our time now that the nest is empty? I haven’t found any answers yet…

We had been planning this change for months – ever since our son decided he wanted to go to Michigan Tech for Mechanical Engineering. We talked about other schools, some closer to home, but he was always drawn back to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula – to the place our little family began – he had been drawn home. We spent last weekend moving him into his dorm, meeting his new roommate, walking back and forth on the campus we knew well, and just basking in the memories and comfort of being home. I graduated from Michigan Tech and my wife spent a couple of years there as well. I was an associate pastor of a church there for a few years too and was born and raised in the Copper Country so that home has some deep roots for us. It has been nearly 11 years since we had spent any meaningful time there – some of our memories are not so good and if you’ve read previous posts you know the reasons we left.

It was a difficulty goodbye…for my wife and I anyway. We spent the weekend camping at McLain State Park, which has had its share of memories for us and this weekend was no different. We pulled in during a rain storm, watched a wanna-be sunset through murky clouds, even saw remnants of Northern Lights in the early morning hours…left overs of what was probably an amazing show earlier in the night. By far the best memory was the letter our son gave to us. As we sat at the table in our little camper, he pulled out a hand-written note that melted us. We are so proud of that boy…

The moment finally came. Having breakfast at a local restaurant and we were all finished eating and we all knew the only thing left is the goodbye, but no one wants to be the first to break this moment and step into the next. We walked out to our cars and he put his arms out and I buried my face around his neck and blubbered something about being good and that he had wheels if he needed to run away from anything and head home…silly thing to say… My wife gave a hug and stifled her tears, we got in the truck and he in his car and he followed us down the road. For a while we both watched him following in our rear-view mirrors and then he turned off into his school and we drove on. My wife squeezed my hand and softly said, “and there it is” – and she lost it…and I did too.

I am so grateful to God for the opportunity to care for two of his creations and I know our role in their lives is not over. We are still parents but no longer the rule makers and boundary setters. We are now more confidants and advisors and mentors so-to-speak. I’m not sure how our relationships will really change and I’m sure we will learn new ways to relate. As we each seek out God’s best for our lives he will set us all on a new course alongside each other. New life is born out of the remnants of the old, and I am so looking forward to what God has in store for all of us!


4 replies »

  1. Thanks a lot Erick. Just what I needed …to cry over my breakfast. I’ve got one still at home and thankfully she won’t be leaving for a few more years. You and your wife will do fine,and congratulations on raising such fine children.

    Liked by 1 person

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