Yesterday I waited in the hospital for my daughter Rachael to get out of surgery. The surgery was minor and of the outpatient variety, basically removing internal sutures from surgery she had last year. The procedure started later than it was supposed to, and took longer than planned.
In the meantime, I visited my sister on another floor, who has been in the hospital for far longer than she anticipated due to a procedure that didn’t go as expected.
I went down to the cafeteria, bought my sister a Starbucks Frappuccino, and stood in line longer than was even remotely reasonable, then waited for what seemed like eternity for a working elevator.
It was a day of waiting. The waiting at first frustrated me, and I railed against it, but it had me in a stranglehold. Waiting was my function, and even though I was initially quite terrible at it, after the first five hours, I quit struggling.
One thing I did while I was waiting was think about why I hate waiting. This is what I figured out: waiting robs you of the illusion you spend your life trying to maintain — that a) time is not ticking inexorably away, and b) self-determination is a cosmic joke.
I also realized that for me, the opposite of waiting isn’t continuing, but living. This means a day spent waiting in the hospital feels, quite literally, like the kiss of death.
Today, I couldn’t wait to get out and start deluding myself again.
Laura Hurwitz is a freelance editor and recovering English teacher. She is also the author of The Adventures of Riley (Scholastic Press) an eco-adventure children’s book series, as well as several travel-essay books. Her YA novel, Airstream, is currently under contract.