There’s very little I like less than waiting.
Natural disasters, perhaps.
World hunger, certainly.
Debilitating disease, for sure.
But waiting? Ranks right up there. On the Top Ten List, probably, of Things I Like Least.
- Debilitating Disease
- World Hunger
- Jeans Shopping
- Bra Shopping
- When My Socks Twist Inside My Shoes
- Slow Drivers in the Passing Lane
- That Claw-Crane Arcade Game That’s Everywhere — EVERYWHERE, Including the Grocery Store — That’s a Money Drain and a Time Suck But My Kids Want to Play Anyway. DESPERATELY Want to Play.
- Pooping My Closet
I admit I’m a do-er. A task-er. A planner. I like things like Action Plans and Lists … and phrases like Work Hard / Play Hard, even though Playing Hard, to me, often means laying in my bed reading a book or laying in the sun beside water. I read that book HARD, though, friends, and I soak up sun like I MEAN IT, you know?
Waiting makes me jittery, though. I don’t know how to do it well. It’s not in my skill-set or how I’m naturally inclined. Now, I have no trouble with Waiting’s close cousins, Procrastination and Laziness, but WAITING? Waiting exists in that space in between Doing Something and Doing Nothing; it requires presence and mindfulness — active pursuits of the soul and the heart, except with a still body and, I imagine, a quiet spirit. I suck at that.
I’m at the hospital today, in the Cardiac Surgery Waiting Room.
A WHOLE ROOM dedicated to Waiting. Full of Waiting People. Full of Jittery People. Full of Quiet and Serene People. Full of Both/And: Nerves and Peace, Mindfulness and Mess, Ups and Downs, Ins and Outs, Overs and Unders — feelings just all over the place.
My dad is having open heart surgery right now — a mitral valve repair by a world class surgeon — and there are Things I Know and Things I Don’t Know.
I don’t know how this surgery ends, for example. And I don’t know how I feel from one minute to the next. I don’t know what lies on the other side of today, although I know what I hope and what I pray, which is for a long time — a long, long time still — with my dad.
I do know this, though: I know my dad loves me. And he knows I love him. I know I’ve said all the things I need to say, whether we have another hour or 40 more years. I know we’ve loved each other well. I know my dad loves his wife, my mama, and I know he loves my husband, my brother, my sister-in-law and our kids. To the moon — he loves us to the moon.
I know we’ve worked hard — really, really hard at times — to listen to each other and value each other and let each other grow and change even when we think the other’s position is effing nuts.
I know we’ve laughed more in my 41 years than most people laugh in 100.
I know Love lives. Because my dad told me so, I know Love lives. Love lives. Love lives — no matter what — and Love wins.
UPDATE: Thanks for all your prayers. All’s well.
After some drama yesterday afternoon and a second, unexpected surgery to keep us on our toes (during which I wrote the post above and felt angsty and talked to Jesus A LOT and said all the fucks), my dad came through fine. He’s on the mend, cracking jokes and being his usual gregarious self, albeit with a little less energy than usual. We’ll take it!
It’s not lost on me that this could have gone differently. I’m sitting in the Cardiac ICU waiting room right now while my dad rests, and I’m watching the jackets and half-empty coffee cups and phones and computers left behind by an extended family who are about to lose their mama and grandma. They were going to keep some family members in the waiting room on a rotation to watch the things while they took turns saying good bye — her heart is beating slower and slower and her time here with us will soon be gone — but I said, “I can do that for you if you like. I know I’m a stranger, but right now I’m your friend. I’ll sit and keep vigil with your things if you want to sit and keep vigil together with the one you love,” so they walked together through the doors and down the long hall, holding hands.
This Waiting Room is a strange thing. A sacred space full of relief and solace and excruciating pain.
Two days ago, my 2nd graders had a music concert at school. They sang Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World, and over and over and over the last few days, these lyrics have run through my head:
I see skies of blue, and clouds of white,
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world.
The bright blessed day. The dark sacred night.
I don’t know, you guys. Sometimes the nights just seem dark, you know? Just dark and LONG, and, even though I know the dawn is coming, I begin to doubt it. Every long night, I question whether the dawn is coming. And I forget that the long, dark nights — the Waiting Rooms of the earth and of my soul — are sacred ground, too. And places of grace. And that it’s OK to need each other then. That the needing of each other is part of what makes the dark nights sacred.
So, on this bright, blessed day when my dad lives and thrives, and this dark, sacred night when another family says good-bye to their mama — Both/And, friends; so very Both/And — whether you’re in the bright day or the dark night, I send you my love. My love and a hand to hold and the reminder that we stand on sacred ground through it all.