Gone — no longer present; departed. Departed — leave, in order to start a journey.

Gone are all the nighttime feedings and trying to stay awake while rocking a little angel back to sleep. Those times when all you want is to go to sleep yourself — if only for just an hour or so.

Gone are the heavy eyes and fogged brain caused by countless sleepless nights. Gone is the worry caused by every sound from the baby monitor.

And gone are the itty-bitty socks, onesies, first shoes, first steps, and first words. The weekly visit to the doctor is now a thing of distant past. Gone is the baby that once was.

Gone is the security stuffy that was a travel companion for every day of kindergarten. Gone are the oversized pencils of first grade. Learning sight words is an exercise no longer needed, math flash cards are a thing of distant past, and learning a large vocabulary, along with its spelling, has been mastered … mostly.

And gone is the child who took their last walk through the elementary school upon graduation from fifth grade.

Gone is watching as they try to find themselves and stand out amongst the sea of others also trying to stand out and find themselves. The once small child has finally found their way. Spending all their free time with parents and grandparents is no more. Friends have mostly taken over that space … as they should.

Now gone is the awkwardness of the middle school years.

Gone are the hours spent watching high school practices while sitting under the blazing hot summer sun or bundling up against the frigid winter winds. Mountains of smelly, wet dirty laundry and bathrooms that need daily cleaning are also a thing of the past. Buying $200 worth of food only to see it vanish almost overnight is no more. Long weekend trips for games that are hours away and tournaments during the holidays are gone.

The final game has now been played.

After spending the last eighteen years raising a child to the best of your ability, you watch as they go off to college, work, or help to start their own business. It’s the next great adventure for the little baby held in nervous arms a lifetime ago.

They are gone — unaware that the void they have left behind is immeasurable.

Like most, there’s a lingering question in your mind. It’s the same fear-laced question that I’ve asked myself almost every day since our two granddaughters were born.

“Our baby is all grown up. Now what do I do?”

When you have an answer, please let me know. Luckily, we still have eight or so years before I have to find an answer. An answer to the one word I’ve dreaded since our granddaughter’s birth.


[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories since 2001.]