Waiting. . . .

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.

boston boats 2

38 thoughts on “Waiting. . . .

    • No worries, OIH. My love for the boy is more than the fear generated by my imagination. I would rather him bear the risk of living his life fully, then having him be afraid to venture head-long into it.


  1. Hugs to you my dear friend. I do not have children in Boston, but I can imagine how you’re feeling; I, too, used to think that the multiple scenarios that would go through my head was a writing thing. Now I realize it’s a mother thing.

    I **know** that your amazing boy will be just fine. But, until the time you actually hear that the sadness and stress in Boston are over, I will be holding you in my heart. xoxoxo


  2. Oh Mary, I know you just well enough to imagine how terrible this stasis, this anxiety weighs on you and Bob. We’re hoping and praying along with everyone else that the waiting will soon end, that answers will be forthcoming, and that the healing will begin. Love to you all. — A. xox


    • Could you picture me climbing the walls, pacing, turning the TV on then off, then on again and again, waiting for good news? That’s what I was doing. Writing about it was cathartic, though. Thanks for your love, my friend!


  3. That’s what mothers do. We worry and we sometimes tend to fear the worst. I can imagine it was the longest thirteen minutes ever. As my dear Tom Petty is fond of saying “the waiting is the hardest part”. I’m so glad your son is safe and that the whole horrible episode is over. The people of Boston have their city back. Take a deep breath and a sigh of relief Mama. xo


      • Tom Petty has many songs for every circumstance; one of the things I adore about him. I like that you think about me when you think about Petty. I need everyone to do that so that when one of you gets his ear, you can say “I know this woman who just adoooores you.” lol Guess what?! I just got a ticket to see him at NY’s Beacon Theater in May. Wait for it…10th row center!!! oh my gah!


  4. Aren’t those scenarios just the pits! Don’t forget the ones where your loved ones have no ID on them so no one can let you know what has happened! It all goes with your job description, Mom.


  5. Oh Mary, It’s only natural having those multiple scenarios. You’re a mother and a good and loving one! In those thirteen minutes…? Oh God, It must have felt like eternity! I’m sending all my good wishes, love, and prayer to your family, especially to your son.


  6. Mary…. I’d be a wreck, too. My son has a phone and carries it all the time and he is always on it, unless of course he has lost the privilege – at 15 I still have a modicum of control. It’s maddening when I text or call and silence is returned… arrggghh, running up the ladder of inference and worrying is what we do. In today’s world of instant everything, we get info and run it up the ladder quickly before we can process it… sometimes I think living in the time of Paul Revere and the Patriots was the time to live, time to digest information, or maybe they were just as quick to jump, too…. maybe it’s the human condition of patience and waiting. I hope he’s okay and I pray for Boston and those of us across the land who worry what’s next,


    • Thanks for your thoughts, Clay. Speaking of Paul Revere and cell phones, have you seen that commercial of Paul Revere getting a call about the British coming and then passing the information ahead with a call/text? Waiting is sometimes excruciating, but the outcome of the week’s events advanced quickly in the face of its enormity because of our technology, so that’s a good thing.


  7. AMEN to that …dont think Mom’s are good at waiting when their children are involved and possibly in danger…I love reading your posts…thanks for sharing !


  8. Yes, we all worry about these things. My son was living in Blacksburg when the April 16th shootings happened (Virginia Tech), and I live just 20 minutes away. Rationally I KNEW that he should have been no where near where the shootings occurred. I just needed to hear his voice.
    Glad your son was fine.
    So tragic.


  9. Mary,
    I so can identify with your thoughts here. If I had a loved-one living in Boston last Friday, the first thing I would have done would have been to call them. Just to know for sure that they were safe. I also schedule appointments so that I’m the first one on the schedule either first thing in the morning or after lunch. I don’t like to wait. And I refuse to pray for patience. My wonderful, wise mother used to say: “Don’t pray for patience because you’ll be given many opportunities.” Beautiful writing, Mary.


  10. Hi Mary, thank you for finding my blog so that I could find yours! Lots have changed since your blog posting, huh? Sigh… these are the days…

    I’m not the world’s most patient person either, but I’m working on it. I find comfort in the following by Matsuo Bashō:

    “Sitting quietly, doing nothing, Spring comes, and the grass grows, by itself.”

    It reminds to slow down, to breathe, to detach, and to know that things will unfold as intended, when intended.

    But still. Thirteen minutes can feel like thirteen lifetimes. This is true.


  11. I am so sorry for the closeness of this recent trauma to your family. America is shaken together in our shock and grief. I’m thankful your boy is safe! (I have one that age and still worry about him.)

    But, in spite of your worry, you made me laugh out loud. Yep, I terrify myself, too. The other day I was waiting for my daughter at softball practice. With all the school shootings, you know what was running through my mind. Within minutes I had created a scene in which I chased a gunman down in my Jeep. I was torn between running him over, or driving my Jeep to the doors to hold the girls safely in the gym. She came up to the car and I was sniffling. At ten, she’s wise enough to know….I’m writing in my head…


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