I'm not good at reading while I'm waiting. Especially in a hospital waiting room. I always take a book along thinking I'll get some reading done during these "quiet" minutes. But my heart is anxious so I watch.
There's a group of people sporting the same t-shirts. They're wrinkled like they're brand new. One woman is knitting, and two of the men are busy on their phones. They're chatting and look like they're glad to be together.
I read another paragraph.
There's a man sitting to my right. He's all by himself. He has a red purse with him. I'm assuming he's waiting for his wife. The purse looks heavy as he totes it to the front desk to check on his wife.
I re-read the same paragraph.
Starbucks is right across the hall to my left. The line never seems to end. It moves quickly but people just keep filing in for their $4.00 coffees. Several walk past me with their red cups looking like lizards. Their tongues barely touching the edge of the lid. And then not. And then trying again. They're all anxious to sip their fresh beverage but they know, the coffee's practically scalding. The sign at the front register says so. And most of them have been burned before and know they'll regret it.
There's a woman sitting in the coffee area. She's wearing a red turtleneck sweater and is talking really loudly into her phone. She's shouting about how she feels like hell and can't seem to get rid of her hacking cough. I reach for my hand sanitizer kind of wishing I'd brought a mask.
The women from the group of t-shirts join around a table. I wish I could see what their shirts say. Out comes a deck of cards. They shuffle and deal. No one gives directions as they've all played this game before. The cards snapping together as they are shuffled seems so loud in this anxious little room.
I read another paragraph. I dig through my purse to find a pen to underline something that I should remember. I look around waiting for the recovery door to open with a nurse telling me I can go back to see my baby. But it's just another delivery guy. They sure get a lot of packages back there.
There's a woman in a blue vest at another table. She's right next to the free waiting room coffee. She's on her phone, looking through a book, writing, then erasing, then writing again. She pops the top off her pink highlighter and makes some marks in her book. I can't tell if she's working or studying.
I read on. This book is really good and I should probably read it when I'm not so distracted. This is some good stuff that I'm going to need to process.
A man wearing black dress pants and black shoes walks by. He's supporting the Hawkeyes with his University of Iowa jacket. He sits right next to the woman studying at the table. She doesn't even look up to acknowledge him. He sits with his head in his hands. She puts her work away and takes out her phone. It doesn't look like they know each other but it seems strange that he would sit so close to someone he doesn't know. Maybe they do know each other but have nothing to say.
Finally, I take my turn in the Starbucks line. I'm thankful for the gift card in my pocket. I order my coffee and two pieces of pumpkin bread. My baby will be hungry when I see him in recovery. He loves food so I know he'll appreciate this treat.
I return to "my" seat, glad that someone didn't take it. Now I become a lizard as I wait for my coffee to cool-off enough to drink. But it smells so good and I can't resist, and I sip burning the tip of my tongue just like I have so many times before.
The group around the table are giving each other hugs as the nurse updates them on their loved one. "No bowel resection." There are tears of joy and looks of relief. They seem more energetic as they shuffle and deal their cards.
I read over the words I've underlined. I read the next page and the next.
I look up from my book and there's a little old woman about two feet away staring at me. She has a hospital badge on so I ask her if she's looking for Caleb's mom. She looks confused. She asks if he had an MRI and I answer yes. I'm the one she's looking for. She gives me instructions to Recovery II as if she's said them a million times. I don't hear half of what she says but say thank you as I grab my book and coffee. I look over at the man with the red purse. He looks slightly defeated that he hasn't been invited to go to recovery.
I'm thankful to see my baby smiling on the nurse's lap as she rocks with him. I'm glad he took his little blanket. She hands him over and says he handled the anesthesia well and that I should sit with him for a few minutes before heading to our next appointment.
I sit on the recliner with my boy in my lap. My feet don't touch the floor and I probably look younger than I feel. I offer small bites of pumpkin bread to chubby hands and the look of delight is priceless. He refuses the milk in his bottle as he claps for more bread. I sit thankful for this chubby-cheeked boy.
After about fifteen minutes, I gather our things and give the nurses my sincere thanks as we head out the door. To another waiting room.