My Scrambled Nest

An Almost-Empty Nest Journey of "Letting Go" With Laughter and Love, By Cathy Free

My daughter is going to her last high school prom tonight and she’s handling it much better than I am. I’m almost tempted to put on a wig and sneak into the dance hall for some poignant pics, but I know that I’d be as welcome as a bill collector at a funeral if she saw me. So I’ve asked my husband to hide the car keys. A quick snapshot when my daughter’s boyfriend picks her up will have to do.

Last weekend was a mixture of joy and wistfulness as I accompanied Lily once last time to Dillard’s formalwear department to take photos of her posing in more than a dozen prom dresses as she narrowed them down. On our first excursion in the 9th grade, she accused me of treating her like Laura Ingalls Wilder (the author of “Little House on the Prairie”) when I told her that one of her choices, a low-cut, black cocktail dress, was “perhaps too revealing.”

I’ve since learned to keep my mouth shut. My daughter’s friends now drive themselves to the department store to pick out dresses sans mom, so I consider myself fortunate to still be included. I believe it’s a ritual that my kiddo came to look forward to as well, even though she still said, “Not gonna happen” to most of the fancy frocks that I handed her over the dressing room door last week.

This year, Lily ended up with a sleeveless, baby blue dress covered with peach and cream blossoms. It’s the very essence of spring, and it was fun to pick out earrings to match. (I’ll be sure to share a pic tonight.)

After our shopping spree, we headed to the performance hall at Day’s Murray Music on State Street (I took tap lessons there upstairs as a girl), for another last: Lily’s final piano recital with her teacher and our longtime family friend, Kira Merzhevskaya, still an extraordinary concert pianist at age 83.

After my daughter performed a Chopin waltz and Tchaikovsky’s “April,” there were hugs all around and more than a few tears, as we realized the next time we all gathered would be for Lily’s high school graduation. It was particularly emotional for Kira, who has patiently and lovingly taught Lily since she was 6.

“Katusha (Little Catherine),” she told me as Lily waltzed off with her boyfriend, “the piano in your home is going to be lonely. It’s time for you to take up lessons again.”

I kissed her on the cheek and smiled. I just might take her up on it. : )

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