You may know that it’s coming; you may tell yourself that you know that it’s coming; you may tell others around you that you know that it’s coming; and yet it will always comes to you as a stranger. Unrecognisable … vaguely familiar … oh yes! It is grief.

Iv’e missed our Little One most often at night since she moved into her own home. We shared many small rituals throughout our days, as she has a great delight in repetition of the routine. At about 9 pm we like to drink black coffee together, and so I find our two small, stainless steel cups and saucers on the shelf. Here they are! Two, but I only need one tonight. Our evening routines were a finely tuned pathway toward sleep – something with which Little One has had a complex relationship since birth. A relentlessly restless sleeper; sharing the bed with her required desperate endurance. We often found her sitting bolt upright in the corner of the cot, sound asleep. On a memorable night she climbed out of her cot, aged only two-ish, and found me writing an essay in my study. That was the end of my years as a student. Throughout her life she has needed to be put to bed, and only in recent years have we been able to leave her room before she was actually sound asleep or she would simply follow us back out. In her adult life I have generally been able to get her in bed by 11 pm, and I almost always stay up another hour, just till I’m sure she is asleep. Not to do so risks being awoken at 1 or 2 am to a house full of lights, music, talk, dance even. Not to mention sounds of industry emanating from the kitchen.

So, here it is nearing midnight once again as it has each night since Little One left home a fortnight ago; but I have no responsibility, no charge to care for. I’m awake out of long habit, but it’s a weary and lonely wakefulness without purpose. Bedtime has been my favourite job, and certainly my joy, for more than thirty years. Throughout all the years there has always been a child who needed me to put them to bed! But, no longer.

Perhaps it’s the unique nature of today, Fathers Day, that makes my melancholy tale so raw. Or perhaps it is that the life of a parent is the deepest, fullest, most precious, most wonderful path we ever tread.


The leaves are falling, falling as from far,
As if far gardens in the skies were dying;
They fall, and never seem to be denying.

And in the night the earth, a heavy ball,
Into a starless solitude must fall.
We all are falling.

My own hand no less
Than all things else; behold, it is in all.
Yet there is One who, utter gentleness,
Holds all this falling in
His hands to bless.
– Rainer Maria Rilke.


8 thoughts on “Empty

  1. Lynn Hatfield

    Thank you once again Rod. I am thrilled each time I see another Rejoice arrive. Many blessings and love to you and Karen in your “empty nest” Lynn. and Vic who has a new motorbike after an accident in which he was not hurt but his bike was! Sent from my iPad


  2. Carla

    Oh Rod, I am rapt you are writing again. I devour every word. Feel, how you may be feeling, through the wonderful narrative that you share with your readers.
    Thank you for coming back to your writing and sharing your thoughts with your our old friends. Happy Fathers Day for yesterday. I hope the well was filled to overflowing.

  3. Judy

    Hi Rod, Thank you for your most recent post about “little one” leaving home. Gosh, had me in tears – it resonated with me so much! It has taken me a few years to reconcile my children leaving home. It hasnt been easy, in fact it is bloody hard!!

    Having followed your and Little One’s journey since day 1, I want .,to tell you have equipped her so very well for an independent life. Life for her has had its challenges, and you’ve risen to these admirably! Whilst it is a wrench,  perhaps now you and Karen can have the occasional “date night”?  You’ve done good. All the very best, and I know how you feel.

    By way of an update, I have an 18-month-old granddaughter Raffaella (Raffie) and a grandson due in Early December. We are very happily ensconced in our new home  in Springwood

    Wishing you and Karen love and kindness, and good health.


  4. Barry & Trish Tiffen

    Oh sitting here reading Rejoice I’ve tears streaming from my eyes and what we as family friends thought was a wonderful outcome for you all has just hit home. I’m sorry for your grief plus I’m sorry we haven’t been in touch with dear people. T & B

    Sent from my iPad


  5. But it is a wonderful, wonderful outcome Trish; better than we ever imagined it might be. Three weeks on I’m not so sad, although we just dropped her off again and I’m doing a small-scale repeat of those emotions! The empty feeling of the house was quite overwhelming in the first fortnight though. You have been in touch, you sent us beautiful flowers!

  6. Hello both! It’s been so long since I wrote much here that it has all changed entirely, and I’m only now discovering that I have mail! Happily I’m adjusting to Cassie’s absence, little by little. I have come to realise that it isn’t her that’s missing as much as it is all of our children, and I don’t think I will ever enjoy anything as much as I enjoyed being a father – to children actually in the house. I imagine you might know what I mean. Cassie is doing very well indeed, we see her at church each Sunday and she comes home for the afternoon. All, or very nearly all, our interactions with her during the week are courteous and beautiful; it really is a delight. – R.

  7. Look Judy, I found another one from you! I think it’s not so much Cassie that I specifically miss, it’s all my children and it’s my role as a father. A father with children in the house. I don’t think there will be a stage in life that I will enjoy quite that much. Grand parenting though has its different delights! As you know. – R.

  8. Hello Carla; it’s been so long since I wrote regularly here that it’s utterly unrecognisable and I’ve suddenly discovered that I’ve been getting mail! I sometimes think of a young relative of yours who had to endure repeated surgeries, and wonder how she is going. May I ask you? I don’t think that this conversation show up under my blog, but please tell me if I’m wrong. Good to hear from you! – R.

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