Last evening I sat alone on the patio. Cicadas sang their lonely song, rising in crescendo before fading out in exhaustion only to again cry out their lust a few minutes later. Beneath the waves of insects chirping in the trees the eh-eh, eh-eh of tree frogs heralded the deepening twilight. The boy's dog scampered and rolled in the grass. I sat in silence. I thought I might cry.
My oldest boy had just crammed the last items into his over-stuffed car and pulled away from the curb headed west to a new life. He is not the first person to move from home and family. He won't be the last. But he is the first of my family to head far out into the wide world. He has not lived at home for more than a decade, but he has always been just an hour or so drive away; close enough we could have lunch or dinner whenever our work schedules permitted. We could always count on him for birthdays and holidays. He will be fine. That doesn't mean his leaving isn't sad. He will always be my little boy. On top of the impending death of my yet-unborn grandson it is a lot on my plate emotionally right now.
I sit here wondering why I cannot sleep at night.
This too shall pass. People have been moving "west" since the beginning of time. The old drive for manifest destiny, the pioneer spirit, still lives in the breast of the hardy. Horace Greeley's exhortation to "Go West young man" was not a new concept when he printed it in the New York Tribune. The spirit of seeking a better life is what brought my forefathers to this continent and led a branch of my family to this part of the heartland we now call home. I live a few dozen miles from where my ancestors ripped the trees from the soil to plant a farm some two hundred years ago. If anything, it is I who has failed to live up to the pioneer spirit.
The boy is off in his modern Conestoga wagon. Instead of oxen, his goods and person will be pulled by a hopefully dependable Ford engine. He will cross the Great Plains not in weeks and months, but in hours. The trip will be just as exciting. He will be filled with just as much trepidation. His mom will worry just as much as I am certain the early settlers' mothers worried.
It is gonna be OK.