Tom Petty said it best. The waiting is almost always more torturous than the actual news or event itself. How do you deal with the waiting? Even Christians knew how horrible it was: Limbo is what they decided to call it. Worse than standing at the gates of Hell is sitting in Limbo, awaiting God’s decision. We as an American society are so tormented by the concept of waiting we invent all kinds of things to avoid it. I don’t want to wait for dinner to cook, so I’ll microwave it. I don’t want to wait to see what happens on my television program, so I’ll tape it and fast forward through all the commercials. I can’t wait until I get to my destination to text you, so I’ll do it while I’m driving. I may have a car wreck in the process, but hey, who likes to wait?
Waiting is especially horrible if you have no idea what you’re waiting for. Or if the time of the waiting is indeterminable. Waiting for dinner is bad enough, but at least you can stare at that microwave display and watch it ticking down, okay, thirty-seven more seconds. What if the microwave just said, “I’ll ding when I’m good and ready?” What if you knew the ding would come in thirty-seven seconds, but not what you’d be eating? Steak, or shit sandwich? I waited for this?
Such was my state today. A member of my family has a heart condition, and it’s something we deal with on a daily basis. Tomorrow is guaranteed for no one, but my family walks around hoping today won’t be the day when her ticker says, “Seriously, I’ve had enough.” This weekend she was admitted into the hospital for what we thought was pneumonia. Perhaps it was. It graduated into something more serious, so that when I woke up today and turned my phone on, it blew up with messages. One was from her. It said simply, “It’s a blood infection. I don’t know how I got it.” It’s more than an infection. It’s her heart, and the time between that text from her and my mother’s phone call at three pm–three and a half hours–was some of the worst waiting I’ve done in a while. Am I waiting to hear she’s doing well? Am I waiting to hear the worst? Which message do I prepare to hear? Both, the mind says. So I prepare for both. The side of me who takes care of waiting for a positive message sees her visiting me in Florida and laughter and giving her a speech to end all speeches about taking care of herself, getting re-invested in a situation that I hope is not futile. I see Christmas and birthdays, trips to Cape May and other adventures. I even see a happy ending to my day where I won’t be crying and pacing and avoiding the shower because what if the phone rings while I’m in there? I see that I can now focus on something, anything other than the waiting, and that thought is bliss within itself. Then there’s the side who has to take care of waiting for bad news. The one that sees me on a plane in two days, lots of black clothes and migraines and tears. At which scenario will my waiting dump me out?
It dumped me out on the side of hope, and–as life would have it, the ironic bitch–more waiting. Because she’s stable, recovering, but the doctors need to observe for a few days to decide whether or not her condition needs immediate intervention. Will rest and medicine take its course, or will a scalpel need to come into play?
Now on my television, as I write this, is Pink’s The Truth About Love Tour live from Australia. I watched its Showtime premiere almost two years ago while my family member was visiting. We watched it together, talked about what a cool chick we both think Pink is and how much we’d love to see her live. “We should,” I said. She said, “The next time she tours.”
I guess we’ll just have to wait.