"That must be so hard" Morrie says to me across the meeting table. "To just be waiting and waiting and not have any idea when..." he trails off. We're sitting at a meeting for the congregational consulting network that I am a part of, and everyone is engaging in the vital catch-up and chit-chat that must precede business and more focused discussion at these sorts of things. I'm currently the youngest person in the group. Most of my co-consultants are well into the grandchildren and retirement phase of their lives. They are all quite dear and interested in our adoption process. Since we meet every other month up until recently I have always had something to report: homestudy started, homestudy completed, profiles done, etc. But our last couple meetings I've had nothing but the "still waiting."
"I can't imagine what that must be like." Morrie says. He is a retired priest, a gentle soul, and one of my favorite people. So instead of replying the way I would to most; brushing it off, or talking about my other projects or making a wry joke about having plenty to do to keep busy, I stop to think. What is it like? How does this experience of waiting compare to something that he might understand?
"It's like waiting to fall in love." I say. Morrie and his partner have been together for decades and are a couple that Andrew and I greatly admire. I don't know much about their story but I am willing to bet that, like most good love stories, there was a waiting and longing and loneliness that preceded it. Morrie and I move on to other topics, but the more I think about my new metaphor, the more I like it.
It felt, to me, like I waited for Andrew for a long, long time. I spent the first half of my 20's exploring the world for myself - a brief flirtation here or there, some classically heartbreaking "complicated" friendships, and a lot of watching while my beloved friends worked their ways in and out of passionate and not-so-passionate romantic relationships. I was fairly confident that I would be a good partner, and quietly confused as to why no one snapped me up. My nearest and dearest friends kindly shared this confusion. But it didn't happen. So I developed a personal philosophy of life that connected loneliness to strength, decided that one romantic relationship shouldn't be the end all and be all of a wholly lived life, and that a romantic partnership wouldn't be the only long term relationship that mattered in my life.
Then Andrew came to see my band play and we snapped each other up faster than either of us expected. We were family to each other in a deep, mysterious, and wonderful way from almost the very beginning.
Oddly this didn't change my ideas about love, friendship, loneliness and strength. Despite the deep conviction that this was the person I had in many ways been waiting for and spent many lonely hours longing for, I've never felt regret that it didn't happen sooner. My life didn't begin when Andrew appeared. Quite the contrary, I had a wonderful life full of friends, laughter, and plenty of deep loving relationships with other people long before I knew him. In fact, I think that's one of the reasons my marriage is strong and lovely. As a new family Andrew and I were born into the best possible environment.
So now we're waiting again, together. The more I think about it the more I see similarities. We'll find our baby much the way we found each other - we don't know when it will happen, or have much personal control over who it will be. Our new family member will come with biological connections to people we don't know, and those people will become a part of our network, our child's first family. And our life won't begin when that new person arrives. Quite the contrary, we're living life as hard as we can now: loving each other and our families and our beautiful friends, making plans and dreaming dreams and trusting that all of it together will be the best possible environment for the brand new person we're expecting to be, if not born into, then raised into. It's not that I don't feel impatient or spend time every day imagining who s/he will be, what it will be like to know and hold him/her, making plans for how to welcome and weave a new person into the life of our family. But as impatient as I am, I trust that in the end, I won't regret the waiting.
Yeah, on a good day, it's like that.