The waiting room
It was a long and agonizing wait when the Boy Wonder was in the MRI machine to determine the correct diagnosis for the lump on his leg. I refused to sit and search on my phone for all the statistics and logistics regarding sarcoma, because I knew that would do nothing but stir up my heart even more than it already was. Having had an acquaintance battle sarcoma, I already knew some details – none of which were good.
I did what any person trying to avoid her feelings would do when sitting in the lobby area of a hospital or clinic. I picked up a magazine and tried to redirect my horse galloping heart to slow down, peruse the pages of a battered and worn Better Homes and Gardens, and attempt to calm down. For a little while it worked. I did text a friend who had asked me to apprise her of the situation, and I prayed for a while. She joined me in those prayers, her heart echoing my own fear.
After a short while, another friend and mom of a schoolmate of my children came in with one of her sons. We chatted about all sorts of things, before she asked why I was there. When I said my son was in the diagnostic machine, she grew a little concerned. All I could comfortably share was “it may not be good”.
She smartly changed the subject to prom and graduation, inquiring how planning was going on the latter. We talked for quite some time about my worries (and hers for next year) and getting everything just so, noting that not one of our guests would ever know the difference. I shared what another friend had said to me, and she quickly breathed a sigh of relief.
“I have been sitting here thinking exactly that.”
The sentiment was one of finally getting to have a graduation party. In all the ways that counted, the day was all about Sawyer, but in some inner recesses of my heart the day would also be for Reed and all the ways he and his classmate were not celebrated two years ago. This sadness going all the way back to the e-mail we received from the school stating that our “student” would have been graduating. The caged agony had been brewing. Come on! Are you serious? He was in a class just shy of 40 and no one had the decency to use his actual name? Did you forget that he died as a part of the normal school routine, riding the bus home? I would be lying if I said that shocking correspondence doesn’t still hurt, because it deeply and profoundly does.
The friend sitting there knew nothing of that nor the agonizing months we waited to hear if our son would be remembered at all, but what she did know was how much we love our children and how incredibly difficult it had to have been to not have a party for Reed. Her words of acknowledgement of that hurt soaked deep into the pores of my soul like the soothing balm of Gilead. Her words were healing, as if she had scooped me into her arms and we rocked together on a peaceful front porch, wiping away locked up tears, and sipping some iced tea for good measure. Her words so simple, so sweet, began to cover the ingrained scars on my heart for a loss of something I didn’t realize I was grieving until I was confronted with it for my second son.
In this world, we have the opportunity to do the right thing. I am learning as life goes on not as many people as I would have hoped choose to do that. For those who love out loud, please know your gifts of encouraging words, calls, texts, e-mails, prayers, unending love and support matter. Without those two women speaking truth into my heart, I don’t know how well I would have made it through the ensuing days – waiting for the phone call, preparing for graduation day, and surviving the party we had while thinking about the one we didn’t.
Maya Angelou once said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” Whether it is the ravishing scars of grief or a possible cancer diagnosis or anything that brings hurt to your heart, keeping such things locked inside is an anguish that I wish on no one, but one I intimately know.
For one small moment, in a sterile clinic waiting room, battered magazine in my lap, I was incredibly thankful for a friend who let me open the cage for the bird, hiding in there, to fly away. The gentle flutter of the wings of sadness passing by the crevices of my heart created a feeling of being beautifully lighter once released.
I couldn’t help but imagine that is how God’s heart feels when he is waiting in the throne room for me to bring the hurt to him. Sadly, more often than not, I embrace the hurt before I carry it to him. I think he often uses friends, family, and yes, even strangers to speak the words I need to hear to relinquish the hurt for which he is so much larger and his grace is more than sufficient to cover. He is waiting with his bottle to collect my tears, a lap big enough for my hurts, and a promise to love me through it all. A perfect reminder: I will always be his child, the one worth waiting for.