I woke up at 5:30 this morning and stumbled into the kitchen to put on a pot of coffee. There’s just nothing better than the smell of roasted coffee beans in the wee hours before the sun comes up. Once I’d set the pot to brew, I walked back down the hall to my son’s room. I peeked my head in the door and whispered loud enough to stir him from slumber but not to wake my younger son just one bedroom away.
“Wake up, it’s time to get ready.”
“Yes, ma’am” was his gravely morning voice reply.
I sit in wonder at times when I think about the twists and turns life takes. Last week I was celebrating my youngest son’s last high school race. His perseverance and determination to press on in the midst of difficult circumstances. I was so happy with his accomplishment but also sad because it was the very last one. It was bittersweet.
This week I find myself sitting in a waiting room.
We were ready within an hour, and the sun had made its arrival as we walked out the door just shy of 6:30am. We were headed to the outpatient clinic at our local hospital for my son to have minor surgery. Once we arrived, it didn’t take long to check him in and then be sent across the room to sit and wait.
The waiting room.
The nurse emerged after a bit and called the name of someone else, but within minutes she was back for us. When she called my son’s name we both stood up and walked toward her and the pre op waiting room. Just as we reached the door separating the two rooms, the nurse stopped me. I was puzzled, then she asked, “Are you Mom?” “Yes, ma’am” I responded with a grin. She looked at my big boy and said “How old are you?” “Twenty” he answered without hesitation. She then looked back at me and said “You can wait out here mom, I’ll call you when we’re ready.”
I stood motionless for a moment before I regained my composure.
What? I thought.
But then, I smiled sheepishly and obediently walked back to my cold chair and awaited my call.
My sweet son smiled at me as he went through the door and then it closed soundly behind him. It was kind of symbolic, I thought, reminding me of the season of life I’ve entered. It’s the one where I’m needed, but only for the insurance card and the ride home.
I looked around not quite sure what to do with myself.
I pulled out my phone and thumbed through social media, texted back a few friends who messaged me they were praying and wrapped my jacket around my shoulders because suddenly it was not only cold in the room but in my heart.
Am I ever really going to be needed again?
After a while the same nurse was back and she invited me behind the soundly closed door. I nearly sprinted back to find my son smiling, lying on a rolling bed awaiting whatever came next. I looked him over and decided they had taken good care of him so I relaxed a little. I still wasn’t sure what to do with myself.
And again I felt it, the feeling of not being necessary.
So, I sat down in another cold chair and tried to make small talk. Soon the surgery nurse and then the anesthesiologist came in explain the procedure. Every time they would ask a question, I would start to answer, but my son kept speaking up before I could. I started to give him the let me handle this look but then noticed the professionals were talking to HIM and NOT to me.
I sat and watched their interaction and noticed how well my adult son handled the whole situation. He laughed and cracked jokes and was quick to respond the best he could. Suddenly, I felt overwhelmed with joy that this person God allowed me privilege of raising was so endearing and pleasant and grown up. I have done so many things wrong as a parent, but in the midst of it all God had developed the things I did right in the heart of this young man.
We said a prayer and before we knew it, it was time.
I followed the bed down the hall making small talk with the surgery nurse before she came to a stop. I wasn’t allowed behind the double swinging doors. I bent over and kissed my man-child on the forehead and walked into the small waiting room across the hall. Again, I was cold through and through so I wrapped up in my jacket and sat there in silence.
I was startled out of my quiet place when a lady across the small room asked if I was okay. We exchanged pleasantries and it wasn’t long before we were in a full blown conversation about her daughter and my son. She told of their long history of health problems and I found myself quietly thanking the Lord we didn’t have so many ailments. But, at the end of her discourse, she said “I thank the Lord every day for waking me up and at night I thank him for another day.” I realized right then we had a lot in common. Our lives may look a lot different and our story was not the same, our ailments may be few or many but morning and night we called upon the same Savior.
He meant as much to her as He means to me.
I felt so blessed to have had the chance to talk with her.
My daddy came in after a bit holding a fresh cup of coffee, I was so happy to see him AND the coffee! We sat and visited and waited. We talked about his new truck, about my youngest son’s physics project and everything and nothing. Another gentleman who was waiting for a family member joined in our conversation off and on and then it was time to leave, my son’s procedure was finished.
A new family came in to take a seat just as we were walking out. I didn’t recognize the family, but I overheard the gentleman’s last name, I knew immediately who they were. Word of mouth is famous in small towns and ours is no different. He was waiting for his wife who had recently been diagnosed with cancer.
My dad, who never meets a stranger, offered encouragement and asked if he could pray with them. As we bowed our heads in the sterile environment of a hospital waiting room, I felt the warmth of the Lord right there with us.
Again, I was overwhelmed.
I worry sometimes if I’ll still feel purpose when all my kids are gone and the house is empty, but days like today remind me everything is going to be okay. I was blessed, encouraged, lifted, cared for and prayed with in the most unexpected place.
A waiting room.
Once we finished our prayer, said our amen’s and walked away I noticed I didn’t need my jacket anymore.
I felt warm from the inside out.
“The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.” Psalm 138:8