by Kelly Carr
Somehow I sensed in that moment that this would bind us together forever. No matter how far apart we moved, no matter the years that passed when we didn’t see one another—this moment would cement our friendship on a deeper level, in a way that would not be shaken.
This time of waiting together.
waiting for answers
That morning the day was full of possibilities. The world was ripe with hope. That afternoon came a call from my neighbor—our condo neighbor whose wall shared our own.
These past two years I was so glad she was nearby. I had someone to wave to as I walked to my car or to my mailbox or back to my door. Someone to sit and have tea with on a quiet Sunday afternoon. Someone who noticed and cared when I was gone a few days. A neighbor and a friend.
But now her voice tightened with distress. I could barely make sense of her words. There were tears. There was pain. There was a plea: He can’t get home. Will you take me?
My friend held her breath.
I held her hand.
So there we were, driving in awkward silence. Sounds of muffled sniffles. The air thick with fear. The unknown filled every space in my car.
Once there, we were ushered in and then asked to sit. And wait.
The room was half full yet stunted in silence, as if packed in cotton, muting the everyday noises outside. The only discernible sound was a clock ticking away the seconds on the wall above. Everyone looked at their feet, furtive glances, trying to hide red eyes and anxious expressions.
Mostly women there. Mostly in pairs. We were women waiting with other women—waiting together for answers.
I didn’t know what to do to be truly helpful. I handed my friend tissues. Squeezed her arm occasionally. Said a silent prayer. Or two. Or three.
Then the nurse called her name. And we went back. Beyond this closed door down a hallway to another room. This one with a chair and a machine. And answers to the question we could not ask aloud.
My friend held her breath. I held her hand. The doctor arrived and looked at the machine and looked at my friend and shook her head no.
Louder tears now. The wait was over.
waiting for hope
I drove her back home. Found a pillow, a blanket, more tissues. I went next door to my house and heated up soup. I remember being half frantic, scouring the ingredients of the pre-made soup on my shelf to verify that it truly had no meat, even in the broth, for my precious vegetarian friend.
I took over the soup and asked if she wanted me to stay.
We waited for the grief to scoot over
and make room for hope once again.
Honestly? My awkward humanity half hoped she would say no, that she wanted to be alone. Because what would I do? What would I say?
But she said yes. Please stay. So I stayed. Yes, I wanted to be with her. I just didn’t know how to help.
Silence extended. That usually makes people uncomfortable.
Yet in those first few minutes, God brought someone to mind: Job. Job’s friends. Those friends who sat with Job in his pain for seven days and seven nights. And no one spoke. Seeing his suffering, they offered silent support—for one whole week.
Surely I could sit in the silence for a while with my friend. Maybe all she needed was someone present. Yes, looking back now, no words were needed. Just being there with her so she wasn’t alone.
We waited together—for minutes and hours. And then we waited together for days and weeks and months. We waited for the grief to scoot over and make room for hope once again. Though grief would always remain, hope would come beside and claim its place anew.
waiting across the miles
Time passed—one year, maybe two. Life changed. My friend moved away.
Then one morning I was the one making a call and being driven up the street to wait in that very same room. I walked down the very same hallway. And I sat in that very same chair where she had sat. I had a supportive person by my side to hold my hand and wait—as the doctor arrived and looked at me and shook her head no.
I walked down the very same hallway.
I sat in that very same chair.
Across the miles, when I called and told her, my friend cried with me.
Some while later my friend shared some news, and I waited with her in spirit, miles away, hoping and praying that this time nine months would progress and things would be different for her. And now every year I wait for May 31 to come around. That’s the day when I call my friend and tell her to say Happy Birthday to her daughter.
You remember the waiting. For good or for bad, you remember the grief or the hope at the end of the wait. Hopefully you learn something either way—in the waiting.
And hopefully you also recall those whom God provides to sit by your side and wait with you.
posted on December 16, 2018
Meet the Author
Kelly Carr is the founder and curator of Rivulet Collective. She has been editing and writing practically her whole life, but getting paid for it for 20 years. She now writes, edits, and coaches writing on a contract basis to help nonprofits and authors across the country. Storytelling is her passion, and she is privileged to be a member of the Teaching Team at Echo Church. Read more of her work at EditorOfLife.com.