I didn’t complain about the rain.
We desperately need the rain to fill area lakes and soothe the parched earth. Our patchy lawn appreciates this sudden spring shower. Summer in Texas is brutal, and this June rain was much needed and very welcome.
Despite the rain — and maybe because of it — I left my house early, joining the commuters on I-30 heading into Dallas. I knew the rain would make the Monday morning commute a challenge, and two wrecks along the way slowed traffic. I inched along, grateful I wasn’t one of the unlucky ones on the side of the road, exchanging insurance information. I cranked the wipers up a notch and cranked the radio volume higher, appreciative for this rare “alone time” to listen to music. I punched in one of my favorite CDs and belted out songs off key. Pleased with my performance, I silently applauded my efforts to merge into oncoming traffic and remember song lyrics simultaneously.
I arrived at the appointment on time, dashing across the slick pavement as the valet met me with an oversized, black umbrella. I handed off my keys, took the parking stub, and hurried into the building. I checked in at the front desk and was directed down a maze of hallways to a waiting area. I took a seat with others who had also braved the rain and traffic to get here on time. Time. A strange thing when you’re waiting. Waiting.
I filled out the requisite forms, offered up my ID and insurance card, and parked myself near a window where I could watch the rain fall. Determined drops splattered against the glass. People darted from their cars, scurrying to the cover of the building’s awning. A man in green fatigues wrestled an unruly umbrella. It flipped upside down in the wind, catching raindrops like a bowl. I flipped through the stack of magazines, bored with the dog-eared Sports mags and outdated issues of Time and Newsweek.
Waiting. I checked my watch. I was really early. I had gotten here really early. Nervous about being late. Nervous about the appointment. I wondered about the others, perched in chairs around me; those ambling to the coffee maker; talking in hushed tones to relatives with worried looks. Waiting.
I watched the people, wondering if they had driven long distances. I wondered if they had families at home, or had just carted the kids off to school in the morning carpool. I wondered if anyone had oatmeal for breakfast.
I watched a businessman in a blue suit intently checking his iPhone, his face sullen and serious. A tattooed, spike-haired son helped his mom ease into a seat. She grimaced, and he sat down quietly next to her, gently rubbing her arm and talking softly. She smiled and patted his hand.
I watched an elderly couple: He: dapper in a tweed beret and cardigan; She in a red blouse and crisp, white slacks and gold sandals. I marveled that her toenails were painted the same bright red as her sweater. Her expensive purse matched her shoes. When his name was called, the woman rose regally, balancing on her gold heels. She linked her arm in his, guiding him to the door where the nurse was waiting with her clipboard. Waiting. I imagined a younger version, their youthful selves, walking down the aisle toward their bright and shining future. The door clicked shut behind them. Waiting.
I looked around at all the people waiting, yearning to know their stories. What led them to be here in this place, where we all share this common bond?
The caps tell their stories. Or the brightly patterned scarves, tied into turbans. Or the wigs that are almost perfect. The frail bodies, covered in baggy clothing, tell their stories. Added notches on belt loops. The determined looks. Whispered conversations. Perseverance. The strong and strong willed.
I watched the people around me, awed by their strength and courage; their fortitude and faith. I felt small and afraid and unworthy, surrounded by all of these brave souls. Waiting.
When my name was called, I headed for that same hallway where the handsome elderly couple had gone. I sat in a white room, gripping the arms of the chair, waiting. Waiting.
After I met with the doctor, I slipped into a bathroom stall and cried. A favorable report. My results were good. I got good news today, but I cried, not only for my news, my reprieve, my good fortune, but for those around me. I cried for all of those brave and determined souls, eager for a chance to battle life’s traffic snarls and broken umbrellas, muddy footprints across the kitchen floor. I cried for all of us, waiting for a chance to embrace more rainy days and Mondays.
I fumbled in my purse to find the parking stub, money for the valet. I joined those at the kiosk. As I stood in line for my car, grey clouds gave way to a peek of blue, and the rain stopped. The sun broke free and shined on all of us, huddled together under a hospital awning. I drove home with the wipers off, the car windows down.
No, I didn’t complain about the rain. Not today.
Today, I am waiting. Simply, waiting.