the apple icon now mocks me // the silence is deafening

Sunday, November 1, 2015
Debbi DiMaggio

Slamming doors

replaced dead silence.  The silence is deafening.

A mother’s love of her cub.

The Apple icon now mocks me.

I realize it is the natural order of life. But it’s still difficult to internalize.

I am certain other mums and dads are also proud of their young adults doing what they should…. moving on as is normal. Right?

For a parent and especially a Sicilian mama, like this one, when a child leaves the nest, it is one of the most difficult times in ones life.

Once Again

I suddenly find myself awake, wide eyed as if I was hit by a stun gun to awaken me after being knocked out, although I hadn’t. I was in a very deep sleep. But suddenly it’s 2AM and I have been asleep for hours. It’s the middle of the night, I sneak into the bathroom in order to not awaken my husband or our dog Biscuit. I struggle to turn on my iPhone — the Apple icon mocks me – as if to remind me of the huge hole in my own heart. Never before did that image speak to me in that way. But now at 2AM in the still, quiet and dark of night, the silence and emptiness of our house is beyond recognition. The silence is deafening.

I awake not worried as I’ve known to in years past when the kids hadn’t yet gotten home from a night out with friends. Where could they be? Are they okay? Texting profusely – Chase, Bianca, do you need a ride? Are you okay? Where are you? …. anxiously  awaiting their one word, usually a monosyllabic response. With a huge sigh of relief they respond.

They’re sleeping at a friends. They are on their way home. They are … Okay.

They are alive. They lived another night. They lived another day. We all lived.

This is a mother’s worry, throughout their life. From the very day you learn he/she is growing inside you. You worry. You worry their entire lives.

It is love. A mother’s love.

Each of our children are now gone, out of the nest, out in the world doing what they are supposed to.

My rational mind understands it is the natural order of things, but it still does not change the very fact you still worry and always miss them. However, my children are constantly on my mind. Where are they?  What are they doing?  Are they having fun?  Have them met good friends like the ones they had to leave behind? Do they need me? What do they need? What can I get them? How can I help them? What can I do?

I wander the empty house in the morning when my husband and dog sleep. The weekday is different than the weekend. It is on the weekend when I find I am most melancholy for my kids and their friends. Most recently it has been our son and his friends as they have just left the nest to attend their Freshman year in college, while our daughter ( now in Australia ) and her friends near and far have been gone for over 4 years. ( And thanks to technology I have always been able to keep in touch with Bianca and her girlfriends via text, Viber, What’s App and Facebook Messenger and I Friend all of their friends on Facebook! )  It was very difficult when Bianca left for school. She was our first child to leave the nest. It was at that time, and the reason I published my first book Contained Beauty, Photographs, Reflections and Swimming Pools and spent hours during her senior year creating a photo journal filled with all of my favorite photographs and times we had spent together and as a family. I made two or three copies and pass by it everyday as it is proudly displayed on my living room desk.

When Bianca left I was pretty devastated so I immersed myself in work, our son and this book. Contained Beauty was born from that experience.

Contained Beauty

was more than a beautiful four color coffee table book filled with inspiring images but a visual journey sprinkled with words of wisdom directed towards my children and their friends with love.

Oh I cried. How I cried when she left.  It was worse than the bite out of an apple. It was as if a lion ripped my heart out and left me for dead… or the way an animal who lives in the wild goes after and kills it’s pray.  As it goes.  The natural order of life. But that will not change or appease a mothers love of their cub or keep them from fiercely loving or protecting it.

With Bianca now a college graduate living Down Under, and our son a College Freshman, I now find myself, on any given weekend morning wandering the empty house … There are no sticky red cups to pick up, rinse or throw away. No crushed Oreo crumbs littering the kitchen counters, foreign smells or sticky floors. There are no bodies laying throughout the house in bean bags, the floor, on one of many sofas or in beds. No one to trip over, no one to cover, no one to count.

Pictured here: the same bean bag, and our son, Chase, just a few years older.

The garbage cans inside and outside are now empty, where once we couldn’t make it until Sunday with our cans filled to the brim, and trash day wasn’t until the following Friday! Our home was Grand Central Station, from Friday through Sunday we were accustomed to expect no fewer than 10-40+ kids at any given time and oftentimes during the weekday as well. Today, there is no laundry to wash, fold or put away nor pool towels or bathing suits to pick up off the ground and layout to dry. Whether that be our son’s or that of his friends. I did for him what I did for all. They too were, they too are all, my kids.

#CaboCrew, Nantucket, East Hampton, Lake Tahoe, Birthday Parties, House Parties and so much more.

Big wins, awful losses, proms and day trips to the beach.


The boyfriends, the girlfriends, and anyone who came through our door. Each has and will always have, a place in my heart.

It is quiet now.

They aren’t here. They are not home.

I don’t worry the same. I know they are prepared and they are well. But the emptiness inside remains. The silence is, well, you know, is deafening.

The daytime is different.

Work and my charities keep me occupied but when 3 PM comes aground and I have been whirling like a tornado, it is at that after school hour when my heart begins to slow and my car pulls in the driveway, as if on autopilot. I suppose it’s always been the time I needed a break or a change, but it became the time I looked forward to, coming home to check on the kids, to say hello or to simply catch a glimpse and ask, what do you need? What can I do for you?

Oftentimes it was nothing.

But I had mom chores to do, as I moved around doing them, I always enjoyed listening to their laughter and grunts. Stinky shoes and stinky feet and all. I had a purpose.

Leftovers on the counter from after school food runs. Water glasses on every surface but the appropriate one always leaving its mark.

Oh how I’d love to have all of those chores again. To hear those grunts, to tend to the piles of wet laundry, making multiple grocery store runs and receiving text messages or calls with requests or pleas for money, left behind cleats or homework, or to be bailed out, “Mom I need money”. “Mom can you tell Miss So and So to excuse me?”  “Mom can you get, mom I want.  Mom I need.  Where is your credit card, mom?”

And so it goes. The natural circle of life.  It’s now our turn. It’s our new order. And this Sicilian mother must move on, too.

No matter what stage in your child’s life you may be, enjoy it, embrace it and always give them a big hug. They will cherish it as much as you even if they don’t realize it now.

Always, Debbi

PS. And you mums and dads will find new things to do to replace the void of time recently bestowed upon you. Here are a few snaps from recent #Adventures of the #EmptyNest




You’ll learn to fill the day.

It’ll take time, but you will adjust and than … they will be back.

Follow my #AdventuresOfTheEmptyNest on Instagram

You might also enjoy my coffee table book, Contained Beauty or our other book, The Art of Real Estate.  Both can be purchased on

It’s off to #SoulCycle our favorite new workout. Next Blog: Our latest Empty Nest Workouts #Discovered

Dedicated to Bianca and Chase and all of their friends, they know who they are. XOXO!

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