For me, that experience is years down the road, and I've joked many times that I'll be going straight from the empty nest to the nursing home. (That might not be so far off the mark!)
I'm pretty sure that if John and I are still healthy and independent when Tim leaves home, the empty nest will be very much a mixed bag for us. We'll enjoy the quieter, more laid-back pace...we'll appreciate the way things stay where we put them, no longer having to deal with either the carelessness or the clashing personal preferences that sometimes leave our surroundings in disarray (isn't that a nice word?)...we'll relish the freedom to be spontaneous about outings and trips and schedules.
And what will we miss? The noise...the chaos...the messes...the schedules and the responsibilities and the hectic pace...all the things that sometimes cause us to pull our hair out now. Yes, those same things are the things we'll get all teary about and look at each other and say, "Those were the days..."
And for me personally, I think one of the things I'll miss the most is the piano.
Oh, the piano itself will stay. It's the lovely instrument on which I had my first musical experiences, the one that sat in my grandparents' living room and accompanied my grandfather's precious crooning of his native hymn "O Store Gud." You couldn't claw that piano out of my arms with a backhoe.
No, what I'm referring to are the sounds of the piano floating around the corners and up the banisters and through the air vents in our home. There's no CD, no matter how perfect, that will ever compare with the concerts we hear daily, hourly sometimes, at Granny's House. At this point we're privileged to have two pianists under our roof, double pleasure and double joy for this family of music lovers. Whether trying out a new Bach piece, practicing the hymns for church on Sunday, pulling out a Broadway piece long ago perfected, or even hammering away at Hanon, CJ and Shelley bless our home with live music, chords that breathe and dance and sing and provide the background strains for all the other activities inside our walls.
And when they leave...I'll put on Jim Brickman or Marshall Styler or Chris Rice and remember when it was all live, and I'll look at John and say, "Those were the days..."