Last night as I was falling asleep I began thinking about time. No, not time in the existential sense; I can’t wrap my brain around that even when fully awake. I was thinking about time, and waiting, and of situations in my life where all it seemed I could do was wait.
My first exercise in waiting started when I was about twenty; I looked around my college campus and suddenly there were couples everywhere. Over the next few years I watched as my peers got engaged, married, began having children. And there I was, childless, single and quite frankly unable to get more than the very occasional date. (And by occasional I mean once every year or two.) And then when I least expected it, the year I turned thirty, into my life walked the man who would become my husband. Six months later, heading out to a dinner club get together, walking past my car to get to his…wait, there’s an envelope on my car? I won’t give you the exact words; suffice to say that I turned around to find him on his knees in the gravel of my driveway. Suffice to say that after ten years of waiting, when the ring was too small I determined it was GOING to go on my finger, too small or not. And after it had been suitably admired at dinner club, we then spent the next five minutes or so trying to get it off. (Dental floss and Windex work wonders; thanks Jolanthe!) Sometimes waiting gives you the chance to grow into who you were meant to be, to discover your own interests. And as I look back I realize that every man I thought would be right for me, every one that I pinned my hopes on over the course of those years would have been exactly wrong for me. Waiting sometimes brings bigger blessings.
Several years later, another exercise in waiting. Gates turned two and began naming letters of the alphabet. “Perfect!” I thought. “I have a brilliant child!” But the mysteries of communication remained frozen in his brain. He could name all his letters, but communication stayed at “Juice. Ball. Cup.” And I waited. We moved to South Dakota and several months on my in-laws’ farm. His vocabulary expanded to include ‘tractor’. He turned three, still communicating in one and two word phrases. There was no give and take. Asking him to bring me something brought blank looks. Other children of moms in my on-line due date club were talking in sentences, learning to follow directions; I just wanted to hear “I love you.” I wanted to hear him call me mommy. Slowly it came, bit by bit he began adding more words, but by age four I knew I couldn’t ignore the obvious any more. He had words, but not communication. Evaluation time. His expressive language was decent, but his receptive language was poor, as were his motor skills. Special-ed preschool started that fall. After several months of speech therapy and classroom time I began to notice changes. We began to communicate. Slowly the door to his thoughts and feelings began to unlock. Most people today are unaware that this child who talks non-stop ever struggled to communicate. They don’t see the days where he still struggles to find the words to ask the question he wants to ask, the times he deflects a question because he just doesn’t comprehend. He’s bright, there is no questioning that, but there are still doors to unlock. Sometimes waiting brings only more questions, but it brings with it an appreciation for the small things. Every “I love you,” every response to a question, every conversation about something deeper then “want juice” is a small blessing.
Blessings, questions, answers. We wait. Days and months pass; years pass. We don’t know when the waiting will end, we don’t know IF it will ever end. Life is an endless exercise in waiting. I want to wait with patience and grace, not bitterness and despair.