An Empty Nester's Christmas Gift: A Desk of Dreams

by Leslie Wan—

As I walked into a bedroom in my home recently I stopped in the doorway and reflected on something that was nostalgic but very sweet. I reflected on the fact that my daughter's bedroom, was no longer "her" bedroom, and how that had come to pass. In any transition of parenthood, the time comes when you decide that your children are on their way, and that the room that used to be theirs can serve another purpose. It is a rite of passage and a recognition that they will spend their time now in another place, or planted on a college campus miles away from where they started. A page has turned and it is your decision to make that room, now empty, become something else more useful to YOUR life.

The transition of my daughter’s room, from her room, to "just any bedroom," was a gradual process. For me, her room was a refuge and a reality check. You see, she is our only child, and we live another country away. When she left for college, we knew she would never return permanently to live in her/our island home. We had known THAT from her earliest days. Whenever the reality overcame me that she and I would be separated by an ocean for years and years to come, I would wander into her bedroom among the treasures of her youth and read in her rocking chair. That chair had nurtured her when she was young, and as she grew, became the place where so many of her friends would laugh and chat, as she prepared to leave for college again or go out for an evening. So there it was, when the room changed, I had to acknowledge that the future we had planned for her was NOW, and home, this bedroom which was an ocean away from her, would really never be full of her spirit again. (Another waving goodbye.) That room and that rocking chair gave me peace, a place to read, and to remember that missing her was not about holding on to those youthful days, but about the affirmation that we and she had met the first goal, achieved the first hurdle. All was as it was supposed to be, despite the hole in my heart and the ocean of tears that fell.

Desk of former Trinity student before being donated
Desk once used by a Trinity student was donated to a school for special needs children.

One day a treadmill became a fixture in there, and her tired little desk that had seen many a homework session was sent to a school where we volunteered together, and I still do. Today, it serves as a desk for special needs children so they feel like they are part of a mainstream student classroom experience. It gives me great satisfaction to see those special children working with a teacher on the desk that once had my sweet little girl behind it, books splayed out, doing what she needed to do to transition to Trinity. That little desk is tired now and wheelchair scarred, but it reminds me that we did it, that life blooms again, and that where she sat, continues to nurture children. The bedroom that was, is now the bedroom that is different. It is more about the goal that was achieved and the life plan that came to pass. Oh, and that rocking chair? It still remains, and it still gives me peace.

I suppose I reflected on this as I stood in that doorway recently. As Christmas approaches, so does the season of giving and the return of my daughter home for a few days. I remembered the decision that when that room transition took place, the desk that had served on her road to Trinity, MUST be a gift given to other children so they too, could try and make their dreams happen. Even though she is gone, I still see children circling that desk and KNOW that the room transition didn't have to be about the past, but about futures in the making.

My advice is to make the changes in your home and the transitions of your children’s youth become celebrations of the future because the past may have worked just as planned.

About Leslie

Leslie's daughter graduated from Trinity in 2010, but the mom remains a true ambassador for the University.  Her daughter Christina now works as a university student administration professional, and Leslie continues to pursue special needs work and her passion for personal/professional writing and public speaking. She writes a blog (, and speaks and volunteers in support of the special needs community in Jamaica.


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