I’m sitting at a glass table on our deck behind the upper level of our house as I write this, looking out over our back yard.  An adult robin was standing in front of what must have been a rapidly growing juvenile in the middle of the grass, appearing to be giving it something in beak-to-beak fashion.  The parent then flew away, and the younger bird sat there a little while longer.

A daddy robin cares for its fledgling. (Photo credit: learner.org)

I was prepared to raise hell if one of our cats decided to go after the young robin, and I kept watching it until it flew away.

We’ve been getting used to having one of our own “fly from the nest” ever since Independence Day, when our youngest son Grant went off to southeast Idaho to stay with his maternal grandparents for what we thought would be a stay of only up to a couple of months so he could help with some projects around their rural home and maybe earn some money for future plans.

That thought of it being fairly temporary grew a touch more permanent soon after he got there, with an offer from an uncle to have Grant work for him at his auto dealership and having Grant stay there as long as a year.

We were all for Grant getting that work experience, a chance to do something constructive, something to keep him busy and out of trouble, a chance to spread his wings and — just like that young robin — learn to fly on his own.  We do like to see that.

What I didn’t expect was how hard it would be to stand by and have the first one leave the nest.  I was expecting the first to be our oldest son — the honors college student — and I know he’d like nothing more than to do that himself.  With Grant, it’s been a surprise and a bit more of a shock to the system.

Grant made the three-hour drive from his grandparents’ home to our place for a weekend visit last Friday — the first long drive he’s ever attempted like that.  We spent as much time as we possibly could with him from the moment he arrived Friday night until the time he left again this afternoon.  We had no idea just how much we’d miss him until he was gone the first time, and we knew we’d continue to miss him badly as he drove away to make the trip back up to Idaho, with me holding back some tears and a lump in my throat as I gave him some tips on what to watch for on the drive north so he’d be assured of getting back to southeast Idaho instead of south-central Idaho by missing the exit to take him toward Pocatello.

Grant’s improved on his dunking since this shot was taken a few months ago with a smaller ball. (Photo By John G. Miller)

We treated him as a guest in his own home, and he felt more like a guest in his own home, which felt odd to all of us.  We gave him his choice of what to do for fun as a family and what to eat before he left again, and it was no surprise that he was happy to go along with an idea of going to our neighborhood rec center so we could shoot some baskets and he could get in at least one game of full-court basketball.

I remember when Grant was struggling to pick up the game of hoops when he was in school.  Now, he’s a gym and park hoops rat who loves to work on his crossover dribbling, his dunk’s improving, and he loves to try and rain 3’s.

He worked on it all before he left again.

His little sister cried as he drove away.  His mother and I … we were sad.  This is still new to us.  We have to get used to this.  And we will … eventually.

Maybe part of what’s played into these emotions this time has been the sadness of the senseless killings that happened in Aurora, Colorado, early Friday morning.  Grant coincidentally came home on the day that news broke, when people had to try and come to grips with how quickly loved ones can be taken away from us.  We talked about that a lot around that same glass table on our deck after he arrived Friday night, and we ate and talked and laughed as a family just like we’ve tried to do before he even made this move in his life.

So many people — so many loved ones — will be missed after their lives were snuffed out in Colorado.  It makes us appreciate those times we can enjoy our loved ones now so much more.

Grant will plan on coming back home again in a few weeks.  I know he misses us and his home as much as we miss him.  Like all those who lost loved ones a few days ago to a spray of bullets, we have to learn to let him go.  We can’t always be there to watch over him and protect him from all the bad things that can happen out there.

We have no idea how much we love them until they’re gone.

Eventually, though, just like that baby robin in our back yard tonight, we have to let our children spread their wings and fly.

Copyright 2012, Daddysangbassdude Media

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