My oldest son Drew moved into his own apartment last week. It was not a big task. He doesn’t have much and the apartment is nearby. But it still felt like a major effort. The excavation of his bedroom took the most time. He worked on it over several weeks (not constantly) and the result reminded me of an archeological dig. His life with us was uncovered in layers.
At the bottom of the pile we found the scattered debris of youth: assorted Lego pieces, Star Wars books, spare change. At one point in the relocation Jane uncovered a teddy bear we bought for him before he was born (he never really took a shine to it).
I realize that this is a common experience. I know that this is a good time for Drew to move. I know that he will come back to visit. Jane and I are excited for Drew. But we are also sad. The house seems a little emptier now, as if a piece of its soul has departed. The silence has a different character. It is more hollow than it was before.
In the days following the move a few more bits and pieces surfaced. Nothing important, really. Certainly nothing we need to tell Drew about. It is only the dust of childhood. Strewn about the floor like shells that have washed up from the deep and come to rest upon the shore. A message in a bottle from a little boy I once knew.