I am sitting here in this waiting room that is unfamiliar to me by sight, but is so familiar to me by feel … doing what we often do best … waiting.
Our paediatrician has moved offices. Again. And as I sit and look out these two gorgeous, large, completely circular windows I think to myself she has now been in three different locations since beginning to follow us so many years ago.
I glance over at my son, who I think may be able to snag a PhD in ‘waiting’, and he all of a sudden takes my breath away. He looks so … I know there should be a better word for this … but … well … big. Big and old and sure of himself. He shows no signs of impatience – even though we have been sitting here nearly thirty minutes now.
We are so used to this. It has become less and less as the years have passed, but this is something that is as familiar to us as the back of our hands. This waiting.
Where has the time gone?
It used to be that I would always have a bag of tricks along with me. When he was young it was always about the entertainment. A bag that was never far from reach – filled with card games and string for cats cradle and books and snacks and all kinds of creative endeavours.
But now there is no bag of tricks anymore. No hospital backpack to grab. There is just him and I. He is sitting there reading a book. Looking so incredibly grown up. He loves to read. It makes moments like these pretty easy now when he can just pull out a book and pass the time.
Sometimes though – he would kill me for saying this – sometimes – we still play a game or two of Eye Spy. Or we will randomly start up a round of the Alphabet Game. There’s something insanely comforting in that to me. That we still do this from time to time.
But right now he is just sitting there reading Book Two in a Series of Three he can’t put down.
And I’m sitting here thinking how many times we have done this. Waited. Together.
Over the years I have learned you never know how long you will have to wait. For bloodwork, for a procedure, for a check up, for an Oncologist, a Paediatrician, x-rays, etc, etc. We have waited for literally hours before. I remember more than once ‘waiting’ for a Lumbar Puncture for over 7 hours. All the while NPO (without food or drink). Now THAT was a lesson in waiting let me tell you. Especially the times it overlapped with Pred or Dex.
But I quickly learned that waiting is far from the worst thing in the world. We tend to think it is though in our society. We live in an impatient world where ‘waiting’ is barely tolerated. A world of immediacy – surrounded by technology and ‘fast’ everything. We roll our eyes and tap our feet and drum our fingers if we are forced to wait a mere moment longer than what we deem to be ‘acceptable’ – living an illusion that we have more important things to do and more important places to be. When in reality – we don’t. We just think we do.
At first I did too. At first I thought “I will not stand for this – if the amount of time I have on this earth with my child is not an absolute, then I refuse to spend precious moments of it sitting and waiting.”
But then I learned a couple of things.
Those minutes and hours spent waiting with my son – those moments together as we played and talked and passed the time in uncomfortable chairs – are truly some of the most precious moments we have ever had together. It was in those times we had only each other to communicate with. I never pulled out a cell phone and he never had a device. Instead we just had each other.
And the other thing I learned is this. If you are the one waiting, if you are the one still sitting in the chair, still lying in the bed, still looking at your watch – it is for one reason only – someone else must need that person you are waiting on ‘more’.
Waiting doesn’t ever imply urgency. It was in fact the times that we never had to wait that scared me most. The times when ‘we’ were the priority. The times when ‘we’ were the ‘reason’ others waited. Those were the moments I don’t ever want to return to.
So here we are again. Sitting and waiting. So many years after that first time we came through her doors. Him reading. Me marvelling at him. Both waiting to hear that familiar voice say that familiar name. Waiting with learned patience. With an understanding. With gratitude.
Soon we will go in and learn that all is well. ‘Incredibly’ well in a broad sense. We are so thankful.
But we will also learn, and live with, different realities that need to be followed up on.
Today it will be two specialist appointments we weren’t expecting. Long term survivorship issues. It is a part of ‘what is’, and it will actually mean ‘three’ new appointments.
Three more times we will be sitting.
Three more times we will be waiting.
And truth be told … guess what? I am more than okay with that. We are no longer the priority. Someone else is though, and they need that doc, that procedure, that blood work before us.
So bring on the waiting. It’s okay.
After all, we are seasoned pros.