Posted by: jevcat | February 17, 2011

Waiting Game

I’m thinking a lot today about waiting.  That’s because I’m doing a lot of waiting – I’ve come with a friend for her first appointment with the surgeon who will soon remove her cancer.

In the weeks before today, I’ve gone with her for a biopsy, waiting to bring her home after the procedure, waiting with her for the results.

Today it was waiting to be seen, then waiting for the MRI, then for a follow-up test.  Then she will wait for the surgery, wait for healing, and the rest of her life wait to see if it is gone for good.

Meanwhile, I wait with her, as do her other friends and family.  We wait together, and we wait alone.  But always, we wait.  Patiently or not, we wait.

It is the nature of human life to wait, it seems.  What is the old joke?:  “Life is what happens while you’re making other plans.”  Maybe the key is what happens while we wait.

In my parents’ last years, when sometimes it felt as though the family pastime was playing musical hospitals (we joked we could make a fortune by writing a guide to the city’s hospitals, complete with maps and ratings of the cafeterias), I did a great deal of waiting.

And I learned.  The last thing on my way to the ER with one of them was to grab a bag with a book and needlework that I always kept by my purse near the door.  At least that way there was something both constructive and distracting to do with my mind and hands while my heart waited.

I’m not good at waiting; I don’t like it.  It feels like time wasted.  But the fruit of those times of waiting was real:  knowledge gained, comfort received, a sweater for a friend’s baby, a hood to keep my mother warm on winter doctor trips that now, in turn, warms my ears and heart when the weather turns chill.

So now, again, I wait:  for my friend, for healing to occur, for a job, for better times, for spring – and to see what the fruit of this round of waiting will be.

Photo by Roger Bingler

[After I wrote this, I picked up a childhood favorite, Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, and began reading.  A few pages in, from a letter their father wrote from the Civil War for his “little women,” were these words:  “Remind them that while we wait we may all work, so that these hard days need not be wasted.”]


  1. Thanks for the reminder. For my own reasons, I need it, too. We wait together, at least in spirit…

  2. what a lovely post, Janet…and hard to be part of the waiting…
    in the waiting is such room for praise and prayer…
    what a good friend you are, and blessings

    • I try. She’s been a good friend to me, too. Meanwhile, I’m trying to figure out how to catch up with the freelance work.

  3. This was another brilliantly written entry. Your friend is lucky to have such good companionship!

    • Thanks, Melissa. Coming from you, that’s high praise and I’m honored.

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