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Sharon Randall: How do we deal with waiting?

By Sharon Randall

I’m sitting in room full of strangers, whose feelings at the moment (based on the looks on their faces as they stare at their cell phones) range from total boredom to downright fear.

I wonder what the look on my face tells them about me?

I’m waiting for my husband, who was rolled away on a gurney moments ago to undergo a routine colonoscopy.

“Routine” is an interesting word, isn’t it? Especially when applied to a test that can lead to a diagnosis called “terminal.”

I kissed him goodbye before they rolled him away. He seemed surprisingly calm for a man wearing no underwear. By now, I’m sure he’s been pumped so full of meds that he’s feeling just fine, no worries, no pain.

Too bad they don’t offer those meds to us folks in the waiting room. Waiting is never fun. But it gives you time to think.

That’s what I’m doing. My mind is like a mental Lazy Susan spinning with thoughts, good and bad. I’m trying to pick the best ones and skip the rest.

But the bad ones keep coming around. Here they come again: “What if they find something? What if it’s serious? What if…?”

I shake my head, like a dog trying to rid itself of fleas, and wait for the good thoughts. They take their sweet time, but, whew, here they come again: “He’ll be fine. No reason to worry. Just believe the best.”

I grab onto the good thoughts, and hold on tight. But they’re slick, like they’ve been sprayed with WD-40. The bad thoughts are coated with Gorilla Glue.

I look around and wonder if anyone else is thinking about Gorilla Glue and WD-40.

Probably not. We all have our own ways to deal with waiting.

This is not my first rodeo. I’ve waited for lots of medical results for myself and for people I love.

I suspect you have, too.

Is it just me, or do you find it less worrisome to wait for news for yourself than for a loved one? I think what I fear most is not dying, but grieving. When I die, I won’t need to grieve.

Years ago, I waited in a similar waiting room while my first husband was having the same procedure with the same doctor.

I prayed for the best and tried to expect it. But the news that day was not good at all. Four years later, after multiple surgeries and nonstop treatment, my children and I lost their dad to cancer.

It’s not easy to wait, hoping for the best, when you know how it feels to face the worst.

But isn’t that what we do every day? Yesterday, for instance, I woke up, drank coffee, and went merrily on my way through a minefield of potential tragedies and disasters called “life.”

I could’ve crashed my car, but stopped just in time. I could’ve slipped on a spill (as I did once) and broken my ankle. But I saw the spill and wiped it up. I could’ve had news from a loved one that would break my heart and change my life forever. But thanks be to God, I did not.

Why do we remember so clearly all the bad news in life, but forget so easily and fail to give thanks for the countless times we are spared?

I remember once, interviewing a man, the father of four young children, who had lost his wife in a horrific car accident.

“My children and I grieve for their mother,” he said. “We’ll never forget her. But she would want them to grow up unafraid. She would want them to know that they’ve had a great life with just one tragedy.”

The Lazy Susan spins again and I grab all the good thoughts I can hold. I don’t want to let worry rob me of joy.

I want to believe the best, and have the faith to trust that, if it comes, I will face the worst with grace.

Two hours later, my husband is ready to go home.

The news this day is all good. He passed the test with flying colors.

I wish you could see the “good news” smile on my face.

Maybe I’ll smile it more often.

Sharon Randall can be reached at P.O. Box 416, Pacific Grove CA 93950 or on her website: www.sharonrandall.com.

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