You left for the Army today.
We weren’t ready.
Is a parent ever ready?
We thought we’d have another day, so we weren’t there to say goodbye. We always think there’s going to be one more day. One more hour. One more chance to say things. When we got home, I stood and stared at your empty bed for a long time.
I wasn’t ready for it to be empty.
I wasn’t ready for your brothers to start tearing the room apart mere hours after you left.
I wasn’t ready to see all of your clothes and swords and guns and things packed up. Your siblings had your childhood stored in minutes. How could they do that so soon? Didn’t they see how I was falling apart inside? Couldn’t they see my pain?
Every trip they make to carry things to storage, I winced just a little more.
Was I a good enough parent? Did I teach you everything you needed to know? I couldn’t have. Does any father ever really?
Did I at least teach you enough of the right things?
I wasn’t ready for these feelings.
I wasn’t ready for this pain, for this ache. For this hole in my center.
What’s at the center of that hole? Is it fear? Am I afraid of what could happen to you? Am I afraid that I didn’t prepare you well enough for this path that you’ve chosen? Am I afraid of showing my emotions to my family, for fear of seeming even weaker than I really am?
I wasn’t ready for the empty bed.