I'm a bit of an expert on waiting.
I first learned how to wait in a hospital, well, waiting room when I was five. Way back in those olden days 21 years ago I was suffering from a painful mysterious bone condition. My diagnosis- which turned out to be Osteomyelitis- required lots of x-rays, scans, appointments, hospital stays, and two surgeries. One of the hospitals where I underwent these procedures must have had an abundance of carbon paper (you know the old kind you could wheel into a printer? Triple layer of white, carbon, and pink, bound by a tear-off row of round holes?) because I spent hours- or at least what seemed like hours- coloring on it in the waiting room.
And what it is with hospitals, I don't know- but just when you think you're done waiting and get moved into an exam room, you wind up waiting some more. Only this time you're in a smaller room with fewer toys and no carbon paper. My dad spend a lot of time entertaining me by "magically" removing his thumb (aka hiding it in his fist) and putting it back on again. That's still my go-to "hey kids look at this and don't have a melt-down because you're tired/hungry/bored/sad" distraction.
In any case, that experience taught me from a young age that waiting is part of life. And likely a longer, more boring part of life than anyone wants it to be.
When my mom got really sick in the fall of 2007 I spend a lot more time waiting in hospitals. The ICU waiting room was perhaps the worst place to wait. The atmosphere is dense with an excruciating combination of anxiety and exhaustion. Everyone in that room is united with a common bond and yet no one knows what to say. At one point during my mom's ICU stay, a young man was admitted after a serious motorcycle accident. His whole big family camped out on the far side of the waiting room; pillows, sleeping bags, and pizza boxes scattered around terrified faces and pushed-together chairs. Waiting. Just waiting.
And always wishing you could do more.
I felt exactly that way during my immigration process. You fill out all the paperwork, you get your medical exam, you read every forum out there on how to speed up the process.... and then you enter the sea of waiting.
Waiting for that green card to come through.
Waiting to wake up next to the love of your life.
Waiting for your mom to wake up from the coma. For your loved one to get better. For healing.
Waiting for the doctor. The x-ray technician. The surgery. The diagnosis.
Waiting for life to get back to normal. And in some sense, waiting for life to finally begin.
Here I am, once again, in a season of waiting.
I'm starting to think that this waiting game is less of a season and more of just... life.
Something I'm trying to put into practice this time around, which I'm not sure if I have in the past, is to heed the advice of another adoptive mom who, in response to the question, "What do you DO while you're in the adoption wait?" said:
"Live your life."
Live. Don't pine away. Instead of spending each day dreaming about what life will be like; cultivate the practices the life you want today.
Last summer I was dreaming about how I can't wait to take my children out to pick fruit together. I was desperately sad that those days seemed so far away. In a moment of inspiration I sent an email to a group of our friends with kids and two weeks later we were crouched in a fragrant field on a warm summer evening, filling our baskets and bellies with strawberries.
I still wait with great anticipation for a summer when I'll be the one wiping a little pair of sticky hands with the inside of my shirt, but for now I'll revel in the beauty of what I do have. Lazy Saturday mornings with my husband, quiet evenings with a book or a blog, quick grocery store trips, and date nights- no babysitter required. And I'll cultivate the practices I want to enjoy with my children someday: summer weekends at the beach, Sundays in worship, trips to the farmer's market and enjoying its produce on the porch. Prayers of gratitude before lunch and moments of wonder on a morning walk.
Live your life.
Wait. But don't forget to live.
I'm waiting for summer, but totally LIVED this beautiful spring day today. A crocus in the hand of my two-year-old friend. In her breathless words, "Wow. Miss Jill. This is bea-u-t-i-ful. SMELL IT!" And I did.
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