Trumping the Empty Nest

“My house is so empty it echoes”.

A friend of mine made this statement recently.  Her children have all flown the coop, leaving her with an empty nest for the first time. I feel her pain.

Though I’m not quite there yet, I do feel like the empty bedroom on the third floor haunts me.  The empty seat at the kitchen table depresses me.  The missing voice within my house makes it sound discordant somehow.  Though we’ve been going through all the motions of normalcy, nothing has felt truly normal.

I realized all this the moment I had Katie back with us at home in Connecticut after our Parent’s Weekend visit.  Suddenly, everything seemed to be in tune.  Even the girls’ inevitable bickering sounded harmonious. I slept soundly through the night for the first time in ages.

I am “filled up” once again, as it were.  Actually, at the moment I am “flooded”, quite literally.

It takes quite a storm to make the weather in London seem lovely.  Hurricane Sandy has done the trick.  My house in Old Greenwich is empty in the literal sense as my neighborhood was evacuated in anticipation of the epic coastal swells and tidal surge that is approaching.  Sandy is being described as a perfect storm with a high tide propelled by a full moon and hurricane force gales.  Its sound and fury are deafening.

The usually placid Long Island Sound has been transformed into a stormy ocean with waves expected to top 12 feet.  I am told that my lower dock is already submerged with the outdoor shower and fireplace under water.  No doubt the basement will flood.  Hopefully the house will still be standing without too much damage once we are able to get back into town.  The state mandated that highways and local roads shut down at 1:00 pm this afternoon.  The downed trees and power lines would have crippled roadway travel anyway.

And so, I gain extra time with Katie, having extended my weekend into a full week together.  We have hunkered down with good friends who live far enough in the back country of Greenwich to avoid the predicted coastal catastrophe.  Their generator is working overtime! Three families are bunking together in an incredibly full house.  There are no echoes in these hallways.  Rather, there is sound of the girls chatting while baking cookies, the boys laughing while playing some complicated video games, Harry Potter flying across the TV in the family room, moms chopping and cooking in the kitchen, guys checking emails and keeping on top of the storm. 

Though storms rage all around me, I feel happily cocooned.

We don’t know what will happen as we are all waiting for Sandy to play her hand.  But this much I do know:

In the poker game of life, Full House trumps Empty Nest any day of the week.

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