Alex Cassetti, August, 2012, on the back porch, Q. Cassetti.As I have mentioned before, the new parents are not handed a care and feeding manual when  leaving the hospital to prepare them for the new life ahead. However, many parents despite the lack of information, learn how to parent, learn how to raise/ praise/ reward/ and grow these little beings they have been blessed to foster. I was one of those people who were surprised into parenthood. The time with these remarkable people sped us through almost two decades…so that time before kids is my B.C/ A.D. And just as quickly, the time changes…as they need to go on, and bridge into their own lives with our support and coaching, but not as core players.

Alex is gone and now is situated at Hofstra, being enlightened by the diversity of people, the joy of a new community of like souls, and the freedom of choice, freedom of time, and self focus. He was just a wee bit tentative, but as we were saying our goodbyes, he turned to both of us and said ” I think I am already homesick. You know, I had it really good in Trumansburg.” Just when I thought he took it all for granted, just as he was getting ready to plunge into the unknown, he had the grace and inspiration to gift us with that wonderful sentiment. Not only did he appreciate living in this charming little town, but we loved having him here with us. It has been a remarkable two years allowing us time with him as our only child with Kitty at Hampshire.

We became a new team watching sports with Alex and loving every minute. We took him out to see bands we thought he would like. We had weekly bro-fests with his friends—with food, video games and gossip. We had boy sleepovers and cast parties. We had sausage fests and cross country events. We had sports banquets and musical performances. We had Prince Dauntless and Ike Skidmore. We were treated to Alex’s back seat comedy impressions and hilarious serenades from musical theatre. We froze squirrels for Elly. We went on double dates with Alex and Elly—movies, dinners, pizza. We drove all over. We shopped and planned and talked. We were there for each other. You can guess it, I miss him.

After leaving him to start this new chapter, it took me the better part of three days of being silent to process this change. Not only did Alex have a new world, so did Rob and I. We had a nice life before kids, 12 years of just us doing what we wanted to do together. We traveled. We lived in different places. We had friends (albeit nothing like the life we have now). But this amazing two decade slide from Q and Rob as couple, to Q and Rob as parents, has changed us as the team that we are. We too, have changed and continue to evolve.

It makes me nuts that having your children leave is called having an “empty nest” as the grown birds never return. I was musing on that during the last lake float that I had—and it dawned on me that Rob and I were bookends for our family. We are on the left and right, with just the right amount of space between us to accomodate two delightful books that need a bit of help to stand up. The bookends squeeze the books just to allow them to be vertical— keeping the binding and the paper in the best possible way. When the books are borrowed or are no longer between the bookends, they keep that same space, waiting for it’s  purpose to come back…to support, to accomodate those publications. That is where Rob and I are. We are the bookends, holding the space for Kitty and Alex…and we should learn to scootch together for the time they aren’t here, so we can support each other and relearn our new role as US, versus as the parent role that we have assumed.

The High School is back in session. Everyone has moved forward a grade…and my boy has moved forward too. Its going to be a wild ride for him from now until Christmas—and the work will be hard. I know he can do it. I have to watch from the sidelines and cheer—even if he cannot hear me.