50: While I Wait

50: While I Wait

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Power of Positive

While I Wait

There is no hope unmingled with fear, and no fear unmingled with hope.

~Baruch Spinoza

Seventeen years ago I had a malignant tumor removed from my breast, and I did what I had to do in order to move on with my life. And I’m fine pretty much every day of the year . . . until test time. Then I start to worry. Mammograms. Blood tests. X-rays. The possibility of facing cancer again overwhelms me, and I get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. What if . . .?

Each day seems like an eternity when I am waiting for test results. What if . . .? When the “what if” questions start to surface, I have to work hard at getting beyond the fear that grips me every time I hear the phone ring or I see the mail carrier open the door of my mailbox and put an envelope inside. I have to concentrate on generating thoughts that will soothe my shattered soul.

The first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is listen. I listen to the chorus of birds chirping in the fig tree right outside my bedroom window. I love their voices. I listen to their perfect harmony and revel in the multiple melodies of song I can pick up on. At times I don’t know if I hear one bird singing a lofty aria or many birds singing in concert all at once, but I am transported to another place, letting myself get caught up in their symphonies.

A mantle of peace embraces me as I recall a passage from the Bible. “Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow nor reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they?”

As I make my way to the kitchen for my morning egg and toast, I pass through the family room where portraits of my children have greeted me day after day, year after year. “You are my joy and my life,” I whisper into the morning light of a brand new day.

Even though my children are grown now, I can’t fathom the thought of leaving them. What if they need me in the middle of the night and I’m not around to help them? What if they need a shoulder to cry on and I’m not there to comfort them? What if someone hurts them, and I’m not there to hold them? More “what ifs.” It is in this “waiting period” that I need to keep myself busier than usual.

I like writing children’s stories, so I pack my book bag with a sea of smiling fish, a lonely pumpkin that finally finds a home, and a fuzzy, yellow duck who loves splashing in her puddle. I head for a nearby elementary school or city library where I can share my make-believe characters with eager listeners. I soon find myself falling headfirst into the story right along with the children, hoping all the while that I am creating a world for them where they can be happy and safe and carefree for as long as they want.

On other days I leave my bag of make-believe characters behind and bring a box of writing activities with me so that the children can create their own stories. They write about colors and animals and what makes them happy and sad. And I am blown away by the beauty and sincerity of the words that flow so freely from their unbridled hearts.

“White is a page lonely without words,” one student writes.

“And life is a page lonely without hope,” I quickly write in my heart’s journal.

I marvel at how well I feel at the end of my stay when I leave this world of imagination and inspiration. These children have lit up my soul with their enthusiasm and their gusto for living life in the moment — and I am reminded of the miracle of living life one new moment at a time.

And when the day is done and evening’s shadows have faded into the moonlit sky, I close my eyes and listen for the chirping of the birds in the fig tree right outside my bedroom window. The night is silent now. The choral performance will have to wait until morning when its symphonies once again will transport me to another place where I know all will be well.

“Look at the birds in the sky . . . . Are not you more important than they?”

As morning splashes its light on a brand new day, the phone rings and it’s my daughter telling me of the day she has planned with her twenty full-of-life third graders. Or it’s my son telling me he will be able to come home next weekend. And a quiet peace fills my soul.

I head for my mailbox where the mail carrier has put an envelope inside. My heart skips a beat as I tear open the letter, regarding this year’s test results: “Everything is fine. See you next year.”

And suddenly I feel like I can fly.

~Lola Di Giulio De Maci

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