08/31/2016 03:17 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017


Written in 2013 though I continue to experience threads of emptiness every September.

Less than 48 hours ago, my husband and I said goodbye to our youngest daughter on a bustling street on the campus of Brown University in Rhode Island. We hugged and kissed, shed a tear or two, and headed west. I watched her in my rear view mirror skip away in search of her freshman friend.

And, just like that, my nest emptied.

Nothing could have prepared me for that moment. Of course I knew it was coming. Over the summer I had tried to picture my husband and I eating dinners alone. I thought about the quiet that would pervade the house. However, I purposefully tried not to talk about it with others or to search the web about how the empty nest might feel.

You see, I want to experience this shift my way. I don't want advice and don't want to know when this feeling of rawness and newness will pass.

I want to feel empty.

Right now I don't want to fill my schedule with a new hobby or sign up for an on-line course. I don't want to work more or socialize more.

I want to feel empty.

In a deep dive into Buddhist studies I've learned that encountering emptiness is the gateway to discovering everything. In experiencing nothingness I may just become intimate with the immensity of my existence. In nothing I may just experience everything.

I have been given a tremendous gift this week, but it won't necessarily last. As I sit in this tender transition, my life as I knew it has ended. My role as mother is redefined, and my new relationship with life has yet to reveal itself.

I feel empty. I feel nothing. I feel everything.