‘I have an empty room. An infinite abyss. A portal leading only to my own memories.’: Mom candidly shares difficult empty nest emotions

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“I want to avoid these feelings. Skip past them entirely. Think of other things. Pretend they don’t exist.

But then I slam into them. Semi-truck to the face.

His absence is an abyss, and in that abyss I can’t see anything. But the void is infinite.

Where are his shoes by the door? Where are the dirty glasses by the sink with a gross layer of milk caking the bottom? Why is there no laughter coming up through the floorboards? Why am I being quiet at 11 a.m. so I don’t wake him?


I have an empty room. An infinite abyss. A portal leading only to my own memories.

I want his chubby toddler arms around my neck. I want his contagious giggles. I want his boyhood bath water with dirt in the bottom of the tub. I want him to blow me a kiss from his bed. I want to smell his fresh-air hair. I want his grass-stained pants and scabby knees. I want his sunshine smile.

I want to wake him once more from adolescent nightmares. Body and emotions spreading like tangled vines. Sadness, confusion seeping from his closed eyes.

I want to teach him more. Explain things. Pray harder. Grow quicker myself. Be more comfortable in my own skin so I can be a better mom for him. I want to say the right things when he needs it. I want to know then what I know now.

Can we please rewind? Wind the days back up so I can unravel them? I want to live it all out again.

I want to go back and love him more. But that’s impossible. There are no more love reserves to give. I gave it all.

I want to wall off this tsunami that’s two miles tall. It hovers as I type this. I am afraid of drowning in memories. Of coming up for air only to be pummeled by What If’s. Should Haves. If I Had Only’s.

I don’t want to sit in this lonely world of remembering all our past worlds.

I don’t want 18 years of past tenses.

I don’t want this moment right now.

I want to skip over it. To what lingers on the other side of today.

Grown up him. Separate from me him. Has his own world him. Marvelous, sweet, dreaming of his own tomorrow him.

Him becoming more of HIM him.

I just want the him that he is now. To plop down on the couch, ask me to teach him how to do laundry, and show me a dumb TikTok I don’t understand.

I am waiting on the couch now. His place beside me all warmed up.

Waiting for him.”

son stands out on ice near the ocean with the sun setting behind him
Courtesy of Never Empty Nest

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Melissa Neeb from Never Empty Nest. You can follow her journey on Instagram and Facebook. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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