I am a data-driven person. I like answers. I like schedules--preferably schedules planned well in advance. I am not a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants sort of person, nor do I generally believe that no news is good news. I believe no news is an unacceptable lack of information.
Which makes this time of year rather difficult.
Right now my husband is trying to plan his vacation time for summer 2013. His call schedule and his clinic schedule are both set months in advance, and trying to shift either at the last minute is enormously difficult. He would like to take a week off for a golf trip with our son, and a week for a family vacation. I'd like that, too, but I also want to go back to the riding camp my daughter and I have attended for the past several summers. The problem is, my friend, who runs the camp, hasn't set its date yet. She never has the date set by December; every December, when I ask her, she says, "Kim. You know I don't know yet."
This year we don't even know when my son will start school in the fall. He'll be going away to college--but we don't know which college, not yet.
We are awash in uncertainty, and I don't like it.
Did I mention it was Advent?
Yesterday I drove my old horse, Gulliver, to the University of Tennessee vet school and back, in a miserable pouring rain. Gully had a seizure last week. He seemed fine afterward, but an 1100-pound animal who drops straight sideways with no warning is a danger to himself and others, so I had to get him checked. I'd looked equine seizures up on the internet, and the whole drive to Knoxville I replayed an endless loop in my head of all the horrible things that could be wrong. Eastern equine encephalitis. Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis. Brain tumors. West Nile. I thought of returning home with an empty trailer. I prayed, hard, that Gully would be all right.
I didn't get an answer. I got partial answers. His blood work was normal: no EEE, viruses, or liver disorders. His neurological exam was normal: probably not EPM (though they're doing a longer blood test to be more sure). The choices are down to brain tumor (very rare, though not unknown) or random odd event (rare, but not prohibitively so). They told me to take him home, and wait and see if he had another seizure or developed other symptoms.
I had the gall to be disappointed by this. I didn't get an Answer. I didn't get a tidy response, data-driven, factual, easy to explain. I was told to wait.
At home I resisted my husband's attempts to cheer me, until he finally said, "Would you have wanted an answer if you'd gotten a bad one?" and I remembered that dread of driving home with my trailer empty.
Sometimes we wait.
I'm reading an Advent meditation book centered around excerpts from the writings of Catholic theologian Henri Nouwen. Today's theme is passionate waiting. Nouwen says, "we can learn to be obedient people...who recognize the fulfillment of our deepest humanity in passion, in waiting." And then there's the prophet Isaiah, chapter 25, verse 9:
"Lo, this is our God: we have waited for him, so that he might save us."
Okay, I get it. Today I'll wait. But I'm not making promises about tomorrow.