I’m wearing his wedding ring and sitting in the waiting room. It’s full of stories. The large family to my right is chatting about their farm while drifting back to the biopsy they are waiting on for their precious wife and mother. The family to my left is Asian and while I don’t speak their language, they are having the exact same conversation with a mixture of normal and I’m sure abnormal. The gentleman in the corner is head down with headphones on. All of them waiting in the waiting room with a different thought or prayer on their hearts.
I am in the waiting room. I feel like I have been in the waiting room for 8 months. It’s been a series of waiting rooms, each designed to test my faith and patience and I’m not convinced I’ve improved in either but I still see the lesson. The first was waiting for my own surgery. It had to be done and I had made every possible arrangement I could to ensure my family would be ok while I was out of commission. The mom guilt was enough to want to just stay in pain. But they would be ok, right? This felt different though because I knew I would be completely out of commission for at least two weeks.
As I waited in the waiting room with my husband, I suddenly felt panic that I had never had. Panic that something would go wrong, that my boys would lose me as I had lost my Mom. That waiting room will do funny things to you. It will twist your thoughts, it will send your mind down worm holes that almost take the breath right out of you. I ended up quickly writing letters to the four most precious people in my life. Four men. I wrote about the thoughts, the pain, and the heartache that they would feel and then to the strength and love that I knew would still surround them. I wrote of individual moments and joy. I wrote of my thankfulness. My father, my husband, and my two sons, all waiting.
My husband sat in the waiting room without me for 9 hours that day. Things went wrong. The plan was changed. I can only imagine his thoughts during that time. But after the wait, it was time to wait some more.
The next waiting room was all internal. I sat and I waited. Waited to feel better, waited to feel normal, waited to see what good I could find in this huge curve ball thrown at my family. But it wasn’t the worst waiting room to sit in. That one was just around the corner. The worst one was the one I never got to sit in.
The finality was deafening. Our friend, our neighbor, the loudest laugh in our life, gone before anyone could wait or ask or pray or beg. One phone call and all I heard was, “He’s in Heaven.” His story is not for me to tell, but Heaven is a lucky place and I look forward to giving him a hard time again one day.
A different waiting room yet again. There is no end to this waiting room. I’ve sat in this one before. There are several different doors, but there is not a clear way out. It’s grief. It’s a weight that can’t be lifted. My husband helped me into the viewing. Afterwards we sat in our car both inconsolable, knowing that we had just said goodbye to not only a dear friend, but our boys had lost such a special man in their life. So what do we wait for now? Do we wait to feel better? Do we wait to see if we can help our precious friend and her daughter out of the deepest pain they have ever known? No, we wouldn’t wait, we would just do. We swore right there that we would never stop helping them look for those doors out of the pain. Even if it only gave them moments of relief.
This will be the first time on Windgate Lane that I will quote a Bible Verse. “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:9-10, KJV). Thy will be done. To me this means that I will get on my knees and relinquish what I believe should and shouldn’t be in my life. I will live in a way that waits, but doesn’t question. How does that look? I don’t know. It looks messy I guess. It looks like tears, laughter, fighting exhaustion that feels unbeatable, and finding strength again and again.
Was there purpose in all this pain? Yes. The tears on the floor were wept in the greatest love that I have ever seen. Because love doesn’t know bounds of life and death, it is one in the same. Inexplicable gut wrenching beauty is seen while laying a soul to rest. You will see every emotion mirrored by an opposite, because in that waiting room it is all the same.
So it wasn’t ever just a waiting room, it was sitting in the mirrors of emotions. The family to my right learned that there mom’s surgery wasn’t as extensive as they had thought and would make a full recovery from her cancer. In his overalls, this man, father, husband stood and embraced the doctor as tears fell. He had no words. Probably because he has sat here before. He has sat in the uncertainty and gotten the news that didn’t bring on the same kind of tears.
The Asian family was spoken to softly and went back to see their loved one, the man was finally taken back, and then it was just me and his ring. An hour longer than expected and the fear and thoughts started to creep in. What would happen? What would change our plan? Would I figure it out? Would we be ok? But then I remembered… I can live in the wait… I can’t live in the question! Inevitably there isn’t a clear answer, and while we can all live in that frustration, we can also celebrate that there is never just one door to walk out of.
It was close to 4 hours that I sat silently holding his ring. And then they opened the door and I got to cry my tears. My tears of relief that he was ok, my tears of sadness that he would be entering a difficult recovery while I was still in one myself, and my tears of guilt that I would place the ring back on his finger and my husband was coming home when my dear friend’s didn’t.
Life is a waiting room.