Our kids are going back to school now. They have all collected at their bus stops and marched off leaving their turtles and dogs and cats and chalk and bikes and tricycles and bathing suits and goggles behind. They have left their friendly garages scrawled with stick men and names on the cool cement that smells of gas and bikes and grass. They no longer go barefoot in the yard and listen to the crickets and run after the fireflies and catch bugs in a jar. They are no longer roasting marshmallows and getting chocolate on their hands and tracking in dirt or letting the wet dog in for the hundredth time.
We are no longer lighting charcoal and eating with them on our patios or decks or on that broken picnic table. They are not inside on the hot days watching television for hours. They aren't taking that sweaty bike ride with their parents that ends up at the ice cream store. Their paper plates are no where to be found. Their cups of Kool Aide are empty. They aren't siting around a table at the Dairy Queen on a warm summer night with ice cream dripping all over their hands. Their rooms are not perpetually a wreck with wet suits and clothes stacked up from the week. They are not coming back from summer camp with mosquito bites and warm brows. Their books and their IPODS and their computers and their dolls and their basketballs, baseballs, footballs, lacrosse sticks, mitts, all lay dormant now.
For summer has ended even though it is still August. They have lined up for their yellow buses and waved goodbye to parents who snapped pictures and waved and shouted and then tried to catch a glimpse of them as they rode away in disel exhaust for eight hours. We return to our homes, our work. It is quiet. We go through our days. We make our money and work out and run through the TO DO lists of our lives. But in the unguarded moment we are heartbroken.
Summer has ended and our children have gone away.