My youngest, Charlie, keeps me from succumbing to my maudlin self. With him, there is no room for my own self-pity.

Years ago, as he embarked on his college education, John, our oldest, moved to Pittsburgh. And we were devastated for a while.His big personality left a hole from the moment we dropped him off, but on the trip home, number three brought me back to center, reminding me that John was doing what he was supposed to do, growing up, making his way in the world, blazing his own trail.

That first year passed, and then John decided to transfer to a school closer to home. He commuted while working on his degree, worked close by and lived here with us. We’ve been that family of five for years, and our kids continue to grow, grow up, blaze their own trails. But, for a variety of reasons, they’ve chosen to stay in the safety net with us.

Today, again, John moved out. Not far. Not nearly as far as Pittsburgh, geographically anyway. I’m excited for him. He’s in his first real place tonight, with people he’s chosen, committed to his own independence.

And though I’m proud of him, and I certainly know it’s time, I can’t help but feel a little melancholy. It’s me for crying out loud! And as I sat with Charlie today, he asked, “Did John move already?!”

And I responded, “yes.”

“That was fast!” He replied.

“My kids are moving on,” I said sadly.

And Charlie replied in earnest, “I’m not.”


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