We await an email response from our pediatrician, but we know that his response will lead to much more waiting, only to lead to more questions than answers. All the while, we will continue loving our struggling child and try to fail forward, together.
As I'm getting older, I'm realizing how much of our adult lives are lived wading thorugh a deep and troublesome unknowing. My dear friend described her cancer diagnosis as a series of small amounts of information and large amounts of waiting. "We found a lump" (wait a week), "we think it's cancer (wait a week), "it's bad, but we don't know how bad" (wait a week). And over the course of those weeks and what became many months and what is now a lifetime of "surviving," she had no choice but to carry on living. Months of chemo and radiation and immunotherapy, yes. But simultaneously, making coffee and lunches and dinners, doing laundry and buying dog food and breaking up sibling fights and taking kids to therapy appointments. And I wish more people talked about this.
We talk about the Big Things that interrupt our lives: illness, death, birth, divorce. But I didn't know how much of adulthood would involve something important being deeply not okay, not having enough information about the not-okayness, not having a clear plan of action, and having no choice but to get up every day anyway. So much of life is just carrying on, with an ache and an unknowing, and I really didn't know that.
One of my loved ones lost their job recently. And though they're doing all the things a person does who is trying to figure out the Next Thing, they are also asking their kids how their day went and going to the gym and eating cereal for breakfast. My friends committed to rebuilding their marriage after broken trust still had to buy groceries and mow the lawn and chaperone field trips and speak kindly to each other and their children. Neighbors enduring treatment and wondering if they will ever be able to have a child have to wrap gifts and attend baby showers, and what could be more ridiculous?
Someone stopped at a light next to you today is waiting for a diagnosis for their child or parent. Someone who walked by me today is caring for a family member and wonders how long their life will be on hold, all the while feeling guilty for thinking that, since all they really want is for their person to be okay. Someone I saw at the store today is navigating a divorce they didn't want. Someone at school pick up is miles away from an ailing parent and instead of rushing "home," they are walking home at their child's pace to cook dinner and coach soccer practice.
I can't get over the pain and fear we're all carrying (and I've now lived long enough to know if you're not carrying a load now, just wait, eventually you will be). I wish I could say I've got five tips for how to handle it, but there's a reason this post features the word "learning" and not the word "how." I don't know how to do this right. I don't think I ever will. But I think it probably involves intentionally staying in the present, and actively seeking out peace within ourselves, so we are able to treat the people around us well while we wait. I think it involves mindfully noticing the things that are here--right now--that are good. For me, it involves praying like breathing and faith in a God much bigger than me or my circumstance, who loves my child much more than I could and who is never surprised. And this whole lesson would be pointless if it didn't result in increased compassion for the people around me--whether I ever learn about the burdens and uncertainty they're carrying or not.
Whatever you're carrying today, I hope you are able to breathe deeply, despite the unknowing. And I hope you find something that reminds you of what is here right now that is still knowable and good.