As a bead weaver, sometimes poet, sort of singer and drummer and often quilter, people always say I must be so patient.
Right now I am sitting in the parking lot at Wilkinson Prison (wilkey, as we locals call it) waiting for my husband to finish up with a client. (He’s an articled student, not on the wrong side of the bars!)
It has taken a lot of waiting to get here, to this parking lot. I would have called you crazy if you told me 10 years ago I’d have an articling student for a husband and I would be alive.
I didn’t take good care of myself back then. I lived in a condo with my future husband and our cat, who we still have. I’d been in and out of hospital twice. But the worst was yet to come.
It takes a lot of effort and waiting to figure out what we think should be obvious: ourselves. When I was 23 I knew I was living on borrowed time–taking over the counter codeine in prescription quantity to feel high.
I thought it was because I’d gotten physiologically hooked as a teenager. But then the question was asked of me: why did I start taking them in the first place? Answer: suppression.
I had no patience to wait out the bad.
I had no idea that patience could come from within. It can be cultivated. The last time I was hospitalized was in May, 2012. I spent a week intubated in the ICU in a level 1 (no response to stimuli) coma from an overdose. Then I spent another 3 weeks upstairs stabilizing. I endured pneumonia and had pulmonary embolisms. I was alive and hated it.
My body was like one raw nerve ending. I couldn’t even sleep. Neither, I found out, could a woman next door named Sharon. (The only reason I know her name is because the nurses and on call psychiatrists used it often and sternly, as though she were a 2-year-old sitting in time out.) They had her restrained on all 4 limbs. I could hear the harnesses squeaking as she thrashed and screamed “I am being harassed! I want a lawyer!” Repeatedly through the wee hours I would wake to this. Just as I was falling asleep, it seemed, there would be Sharon’s irrational screams.
The night nurse came and stuck a container of hand sanitizer in my room. “What are you doing?” I asked, both exhausted and restless from withdrawal.
“We need to keep this here.”
“She swallows this for the alcohol. Now get to sleep.”
I soon made the connection in my head: this is like labour and delivery. When the anaesthesia was working, (that’s a whole other story!) I could still feel the contractions and would pull on the bed rail. There was no pain, though. In between there was suspended animation as we waited for that disagreeable organ, the cervix, to do its thing.
Sharon’s screams were the contractions. The quiet was the waiting for the contractions.
Like delivering a child, the waiting would end. And in the meantime a new skill would be earned.
I think of this often as I am chain piecing multiple blocks that are the same. Or hand quilting the same blocks–there is peace in repetition and in waiting. Let’s make an art of it and out of it.