I wrote this a while ago, and while I’m finally back in France (and travel stories will ensue), I wanted to share.
The thought of entering that waiting room terrified me. Because then it was real. Then I actually had to face the fact that my grandma was undergoing intense surgery. That the tearful laughter we shared the night before in the hotel lobby, might just be the last time we laughed together.
That was a possibility that no part of me was willing to face.
I was terrified that the waiting room would be sterile, dark and bleak. That it would feel oppressive and daunting. And that the hard shell of denial that I had so diligently worn for the past month, would crack in seconds. But I was surprised to enter an area that was spacious and open, filled with sunlight, and the buzz of cheery conversation.
Feeling mildly relieved, my family settled in with our breakfast tacos and nervous chatter about the weather and how long we thought we’d be in the waiting room. Would it really be over in 8 hours? Could it possibly be shorter, with good news that would end this unsettling wait?
As the nerves started to well up and crack my denial shell, I saw something that made me stop and smile. I saw a sign of hope. Or quite literally, a sign.
It’s weird how the smallest things can provide comfort at times like these. Or maybe I was just searching for something to hold on to, because at least it provides a semblance of flotation in a sea of the unknown. Whatever the reason, I saw a sign.
Each section of the waiting room was labeled by their own personal flower. By chance we seated ourselves in the bluebonnet section. Out of all the flowers- bluebonnet. The very code word Grandma and I shared just months ago. Well- more like her code word that she randomly decided I needed while living abroad. She’s strange like that. I laughed thinking of her weirdness. And while the nerves continued to rage inside me, I smiled thinking of how lucky I am to have such a strong, strange, and special person in my life.
The warmth of the waiting room and efficiency of the hospital (every two hours someone would provide an update) helped to combat the sleep deprivation and high emotions. But ultimately what helped the most was the support system we had. There were eight of us in total and more in spirit- calling and texting for updates and words of encouragement.
The night before surgery, family members joined in the hotel lobby with boxes of wine, crackers and cheese, making it a celebratory event of family laughter and stories, rather than a somber occasion. Unfortunately now the bar has been raised- I expect a party before I have any serious surgery.
The day of surgery there was laughter, there was chocolate pie, there were nerves and exhaustion, but there was support. If one person was tired or feeling anxious, there were seven others to fall back on.
And by the end of the day, when that last surgeon told us the final good news, there were seven other people to celebrate with. She’d made it through. She was stable. She looked good. The surgery was a success!
The waiting game is one I hope many don’t have play (or if they do, they’re waiting for something excellent). However, if you do find yourself sitting on the sidelines with your defenses starting to crack, it’s always nice to have a good team by your side.