My two sons left the nest some time ago and moved to states that were far from home. While I didn’t like their decisions to settle elsewhere, I was, and remain, extremely proud of their independence and their ability to create fulfilling and successful lives, to raise children of their own, away from protective, parental wings. But I can think of nothing, nothing, that tugs at my heart more than visiting family and their subsequent departure—an empty heart filled, and emptied again.

I cannot write sentimental pieces. I find that the words to express unconditional love are over-used or inadequate, that putting them to paper falls flat and insincere. Cherish your children, teach them acceptance and gratitude. They are solace in a disturbing world, they are hope, they are joy and heartbreak and the purest and perfect embodiment of love.