Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity.
— Henry Van Dyke
I can be impatient sometimes. (When my husband reads that line, he’ll laugh, and say sometimes?)
Mostly, I’m impatient about waiting. Waiting on hold for customer service, waiting in heavy traffic. Waiting for my husband to chop vegetables when I’m rushing to get dinner on the table. It’s one of the character flaws that I need to attend to most. And I’m trying. I really am.
I try to schedule doctor and dentist appointments for the exact time the office returns from lunch, so that I’m in and out before things get backed up. I try to avoid driving anywhere during rush hour. I try to breathe slowly when I have to wait. Often I try to distract myself with something else.
Which is what I am doing now.
My son lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. After the Boston Marathon bombing on Monday, it has felt like anything can happen. We have all been waiting for the answer to the questions of who and why all week.
Last night, before I went to bed, there was news that a shooting had occurred at MIT. Shortly after that reports of an explosion in Watertown. I wondered whether it was connected to the bombing on Monday. I think most people did. And then, when I woke up this morning I discovered that it was indeed connected and that one of the suspects was on the loose, armed and possibly carrying explosives. The entire Boston area was under lock-down and everyone had been told to stay indoors. I’m pretty certain that shutting down an entire city like that to search for a suspect has never happened before. At least not to my recollection.
Fear is a rat that ran up my spine.
I immediately texted the boy. Are you home & okay? I waited for his reply. Thirteen minutes, I waited.
Here is another true thing about me: In the face of unusual circumstances, I am apt to imagine a multitude of scenarios. I tell myself it’s a writer thing, I make up stuff all the time. Sometimes, depending on how much time I have, I can terrify myself. Thirteen minutes is a hell of a long time. More than long enough to imagine a desperate bombing suspect hiding at the house my son lives in and holding everyone captive. Which would explain why my son can’t text me back.
That image, however wildly unlikely, was enough to set my heart racing. I picked up the phone and called, whereupon I found that the first, more probable scenario I had imagined was correct. He was still in bed.
Still, I’m glad I called. It was comforting to hear his voice, to know that for the time being he was safe, and I could say aloud, I love you.
But now, I’m back to waiting and I hate that. We are all waiting for something. For answers to questions we haven’t even thought of yet. For closure. For peace of mind. For the violence to end.
The mama in me wants to get in my car and drive to Boston and bring my 24 year-old baby boy home. But, I know I can’t. I know that like everyone else who has been affected by this, I will have to wait.
The waiting is excruciating.