Waiting has never been pleasant.
It's why I hate traffic, and the post office. Why those steel-cut oats tease me with their thirty-minute simmer. And why we skip school for a week and go to Disneyland in the off-season for the shorter lines.
Is it me, or does God seem to sandwich life-changing moments with agonizing periods of waiting? Maybe that's on purpose - after all, if it's a life-changing moment, it would be nice to take a few deep breaths, get your feet under you, take a moment to reflect on where you've been and where you might be going.
In the three minutes it took for two little pink lines to pop up on that stick, Real Gil and I waited, hoped, tried not to hope, prayed for acceptance of the result. Three children later, I wonder if you can ever be prepared, though, when the waiting is finally over? Either positive or negative, the result takes some time to sink.
Waiting. Never my strong suit. Even on fun things like babies and boyfriends. Ask my family or dear college roommate Stephanie about waiting for Gil. It wasn't pretty.
But lately, the agony of waiting has taken on another dimension.
Though it seems a lifetime ago, it's been only three weeks since Real Gil came home from work a bit distracted. After the initial chaos of little ones who love their daddy, they wandered away and we sat together on the couch, my hands busy with laundry as we talked about our day. It didn't take long before I noticed the band-aid on his thumb.
"Did you cut yourself?" I asked.
"It's nothing," he quickly answered. Too quickly.
I kept folding. (Give me credit here, dear readers, for my silence. You know the rarity of this species if you've been reading for long.)
He took a deep breath. "Except that I cut it working on a patient infected with Hepatitis C."
Hepatitis C. Isn't that just another name for the chicken pox? Just throw the man in a good oatmeal bath and all will be well.
Only I could see his concern. Apparently, a mustard paste and some Advil couldn't alleviate what ailed my best friend.
"I'm sure it's nothing," he said. "I didn't even see the cut until after I finished the procedure." He stood with force, as if to shake the very thought of exposure, and went to change out of his scrubs.
As most wives can, I heard something else in his voice.
This is when the occupational hazards of the medical field invaded our home and our imaginations.
I never had the nerve to actually Google "Hepatitis C," but Real Gil did enough research to keep himself awake for endless hours at night. When a coincidental symptom cropped up, we were both filled with dread. Was he looking a little jaundiced?, I wondered. Didn't he seem less hungry lately? And if I'm being perfectly honest, there were questions like Dare I kiss him? and Is this razor safe?
Finally, on his day off, I gently asked, "Is there anything we can do to stop this agonizing wait?" The fixer in me was already kicked into high gear. We could get fancy medications, use condoms indefinitely, Gil could even have some of my liver, surely that would help!
So, he went in for blood work.
And we waited. I found it interesting that after 32 years, I had entered the world of "negatives." That's the world of prevention, like colonoscopies and mammograms. There was nothing exciting about it.
Life went on around us, kids in the mud and birthday parties planned. But usually at night, when it was quiet and the distractions were few, I would mentally panic, find his hand in the dark, and pray.
Then, in an anti-climactic unfolding that left me limp in my chair, with children and craft glue all around us, he caught my eye and broke the news: "It's negative. No Hepatitis."
Pshaw. Of course not, you silly man. Now come over here and kiss me.
Later, though, sitting on my new porch swing with him, I felt his relief, almost palpable. The world was suddenly full of wonder and opportunity and LIFE. We watched our kids play in the sandbox and smiled, knowing full well that the story could be so different.
I rejoice in God's protection. And I even rejoice in the wait because of the clarity and gratitude it produced.