I hate that John Mayer song, “Waiting on the World to Change.” Why do I see people singing along, jamming out, looking like they feel encouraged and empowered? Waiting? Really? What about doing something to change the world?
Maybe that attitude of mine is why I seem to be receiving spiritual lessons about patience. Maybe that’s why I’ve had to wait three years, and will continue to wait indefinitely, until I someday become a mother. Believe me, I’ve done a lot to try to get pregnant, enlisting all sorts of professionals and approaches, and none of it has worked so far. I do think what I‘ve done has gotten my body and soul closer to being ready for pregnancy and motherhood. And yet I have to continue waiting; there’s nothing I can do about that. There’s also nothing I can do to hurry along the process of grieving the loss of my Mother. All I can do is be present to the feelings, honor what they are asking of me, and ultimately allow the passage of time to bring healing.
I knew this Christmas would be the worst of my life – but I still wasn’t prepared for how painful it would be. We were doing things differently because it was the first Christmas without my Mom; changing things up included limiting our family gift exchange. I told my wife, Candace, the only thing I wanted for Christmas was not to get my period. I thought it was a reasonable request: I’d been feeling bloated every day for two weeks, had very sensitive nipples, was extra tired, and had gotten extremely sensitive to smells – to the point that I’d have to go outside when Candace was cooking to avoid feeling completely nauseated. I’d felt some pregnancy symptoms during previous tries, but nothing so convincing as this. But for whatever reason, it didn’t stick. I got my period, right on time, on Christmas day. The devastation of trying a dozen times over three years, only to have it end in the same pool of blood, was indescribable.
The day that I get my period is always the worst. I have to change my perception of the immediate future: I have to accept that no, I am not on the brink of motherhood. I will have to try again, and I don’t know when it will work. Nor do I know why this is happening to me and Candace. Eventually, with the support of loved ones, I crawl back out of the hole, literally put one foot in front of the other, and keep walking through the next day and the day after that.
Similarly, waves of grief over the loss of my Mom keep hitting me. I feel like I’ve been patient. I’ve wallowed, I’ve raged, I’ve journaled, I’ve smashed things. And oh, have I cried. But I’m getting sick of it. I’m ready for things to be easier. I want to feel more joy. Working on Tammy Baldwin’s campaign in Wisconsin this fall – walking everywhere, working with an amazing team for something important and historic – I got glimpses of joy. I know it’s possible to feel that again, but I’m impatient.
After getting through the wrenchingly difficult holiday season without my Mom, I wanted to magically wake up on January 1, 2013 with a fresh sense of hope. That didn’t happen. Could have been the hangover. But I do feel things changing. Candace woke me up on New Year’s Day reminding me that we’re now officially recognized as legally married in Maryland. Tomorrow I will celebrate Tammy Baldwin’s swearing in; she is not only a fantastic progressive, but also the first lesbian Senator in history. And I didn’t just wait for those changes – I helped make them happen. But I also had to wait. In the new year, I will continue to balance doing and waiting, all the while feeling thankful for those helping ease the way on my journey.