Empty Swingsets: Grieving Life’s Inevitable Changes

Photo by Kim Harms

The swings were empty, and I was close to tears.  A wooden playset was about to make me cry.

It was ridiculous really. We only lived in the house for six months. (It was an in-between-houses house…we move a lot.)

But I looked at the empty swingset while I stood in the empty house, and I thought of my three boys. Brothers who have this amazing propensity to find in each other the one nerve in a million that is most easily agitated and then patiently camp out on it until it causes the desired explosive reaction.

During our months in the in-between-house, I’d often find those same button-pushing boys sitting side-by-side on the red swing, the yellow swing, the blue swing. Pumping their legs and laughing as though they were BFFs. I would smile and go back to working on whatever happened to be on my to-do list that day.

But now the swingset was empty. And I realized they would never swing there again. And 13 at the time, maybe my oldest would maybe never swing again period. And I was overcome. I wanted to cry, but I felt so silly that some chains with little plastic seats could make me so sad.

And I left 809 Ashwood Drive, like all the other houses we’ve moved out of, with a bittersweet feeling that comes at the end of one chapter and the beginning of another.

That evening I sat down to relax with an old book and found that somehow, Betty Smith put on paper in 1948 feelings I couldn’t quite articulate in 2014.

“The last time of anything has the poignancy of death itself. This that I see now, she thought, to see no more this way. Oh the last time how clearly you see everything; as though a magnifying light had been turned on it. And you grieve because you hadn’t held it tighter when you had it every day.”

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

And though I still felt a little silly about the sadness brought about by the swingset, I decided it was okay to let myself have a good cry.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven.

Kim Harms

Kim Harms is a writer and speaker who is represented by Literary Agent Karen Neumair of Credo Communications. She is under contract with Familius Publishing for her first book, tentatively titled Life Reconstructed. Harms has a degree in English: Literary Studies from Iowa State University and was a regular contributor at the former Today's Christian Woman. She underwent a bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction surgeries in 2016 after being diagnosed with breast cancer and writes about her Life Reconstructed at kimharms.net. Central Iowa is home, and she lives there with her husband Corey and their 3 ever-growing man-children.

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