Waiting rooms, like airports, are good places to craft and to think. Mundane tasks like dishes and laundry have been left behind, and can be safely (and honourably) forgotten. "Normal" life is suspended, however briefly, and in this temporary limbo there's a certain freedom.
A crafter is doubly blessed when faced with a period of waiting. For some, it's a precious opportunity to pull out a bit of quilting or knitting or crocheting - to complete a motif, add another few rounds, or work out a design detail. For others, making is a way to spin beauty out of pain; to soothe the mind by keeping the hands occupied; to tame the ragged tempo of life with rhythmic, measured stitches.
As I sit and wait and crochet, I think of the crafting I've done in hospital and waiting rooms. Sitting with my father this June, as he awaited surgery for skin cancer, while in my hands a hat took shape for a friend undergoing chemo. Crocheting round after mindless round of a tote bag last summer while my mother lay in a nursing home bed, her mind wandering in and out of reality. Working on a lovely Doris Chan pattern a few years back, while my mother-in-law underwent an uncomfortable procedure. Sitting at the foot of my sister's hospital bed, quilting a wall hanging destined for a charity auction, while she recovered from emergency surgery.
I remember the grandaddy of all waiting-room craft sessions, eighteen years ago now: the day Mr. M's brain tumor was removed in a 14-hour surgery, when one by one all the other families left the waiting room as their loved ones came out of recovery, leaving me and my sister the sole occupants. As the hours crept by and darkness deepened outside, I fetched my sewing machine in from the car (I had come prepared, you see), set it up on the empty volunteer's desk, and began to apply yards and yards of binding to a quilt we had made for a niece. I was still sewing when the first neurosurgeon came in to tell us they'd gotten all the tumor and were in the process of closing. By the time the second neurosurgeon arrived to report that Mr. M was in recovery, the binding was completely attached to the front of the quilt. That quilt and I spent the next few days in Mr. M's hospital room, he struggling with pain and confusion, I blind-stitching the binding to the backing as though my life depended on it.
Today's was a much happier period of waiting. Mr. M came through the test with flying colours, and I resolved a design problem on an adorable baby hat (destined for a small niece-to-be arriving next month, when the pattern will also be shared), while enjoying the bright flow of colour through my hands.
I hope and pray that these tangled threads may be somehow smoothed ... that the times of waiting, though painful, will also produce something that is beautiful and useful in the lives of these dear ladies who have so generously become my friends.
How do you pass the time in waiting rooms?
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