People paced. Others sat. Some chatted on their phones, and others poked frantically at the device cradled lovingly in their palm.
But we were all waiting.
Waiting for the next step in our journey. Waiting to be called to board. Waiting here, so we could then commence waiting there.
Finally, 20 minutes after we were told to ‘Get ready’, our flight was called.
Dutifully, we handed over boarding passes and identification to the customer service attendant, to swipe across the electronic reader.
That step completed, we were directed towards the door and out, briefly, into the crisp, cold evening air.
But only for a second.
Then a large step up, and we were on the bus.
‘Sud cost’, said the driver. I didn’t catch what he said, and had to take a step backwards, apologise and ask him to repeat himself. ‘Sud cost’, he said again, this time a little more slowly for me, the passenger who clearly did not have very good hearing.
It took me a moment. Oh! South coast – yes! I smiled, nodded and moved further into the bus.
Taking a seat in one of the sideways seating configurations just past the luggage racks and therefore near the middle, I surreptitiously glanced around at my fellow travellers.
Under the harsh fluorescent lighting, with the slightly stale smell of old McDonald’s fries hanging heavy in in the air, we were not an attractive looking bunch.
The slight flicker in the unnaturally white light cast grey shadows across tired faces, rendering each and every passenger with a zombie-like skin tone.
And the waiting began again
One lady to my left flicked idly through a magazine. Another, to my right was trying to catch my eye I was sure; perhaps to share a friendly word or smile.
The men were all glued to their phones. Stabbing at the screen or scrolling with an intense look on their face. One young guy had a single ear bud in only his left ear, leaving the right ear bud to dangle down on his jacket. AFL said the jacket. Yes I thought, you could be an AFL player. But with crutches and a hobble I suspected his playing season might have been brought to an early end.
Interesting, I thought as I looked around without allowing my eyes to rest upon any face in particular. All the men were on one side of the bus, and the women on the other. Unintentional? Perhaps. Very Australian? Definitely.
And still we waited
My mind wandered. I imagined the young possible AFL player was waiting to head home to his parents, who would console him after his injury. I imagined the lady to my left, now flicking disinterestedly through her trashy magazine, was waiting to get home to a partner, and perhaps her horses. (She had that kind of look about her).
And still we waited. No movement from the bus. Just the sound of the engine idling, frequently interrupted by crackling voices over the two-way radio, rattling off alpha, zero, romeo, or tango, bravo, seven. A string of letters and numbers confirming arrivals and departures.
But not ours.
Until finally, with a hiss and sigh, the bus doors were closed. And we glided across the tarmac.
Past the terminal windows, past trucks, other buses and medium-sized planes. Onwards to our next destination.
We almost made it. We could see our plane right there. It was so close yet still not attainable. Not yet.
The bus stopped and once again the only sound was the dawdling engine.
A few necks craned to see what was happening. We were at most, 10 metres from the plane. No more than the length of the backyard swimming pool of my childhood. But a less easy distance to manage.
Once again, we waited
The young AFL player (by now I’d decided he probably *was* an AFL player in the juniors), accidentally bumped one of his crutches so it slid partially down and hit the cold metal of the luggage railing, reverberating with a loud clang. But aside from that, the only other sound was the lady who had been reading the magazine heaving great sighs, and pointedly looking at her watch and then back out the front windscreen.
I followed her gaze.
In front of us, mostly hidden in the dark except for the fluorescent yellow vest of the operator, was a small lift contraption. It was ferrying an elderly passenger up high enough so that he could board the plane without struggling up the 8 narrow metal steps. It was not a big deal to wait, but clearly the lady beside me was in a hurry.
Finally, with a cheery wave, the groundsman indicated the bus could move forward. But then, from the left, in swung a mini tractor pulling the luggage trailer.
Another few minutes passed. The lady next to me was getting increasingly loud and somewhat agitated with her sighs. I didn’t bother to look at my watch – it was too hard anyway, as it was under three layers of clothes and behind my magic bands. (Magic bands are the name we give to the anti-motion sickness bands my son and I both wear when there is even the slightest risk of motion sickness striking us).
I could have pulled my phone out to check the time, but what would have been the point? Time was not going to hurry simply because I looked at it, and knowing how late we were was not going to ease my already busy mind.
Forward movement at last
Finally, the bus lurched forward and carried us the final metres to our next destination.
With a whoosh the doors opened, and the lady rushed off. She was up the stairs, faster than anyone. Like a small child, she had to be the first on the plane and no one was going to beat her. I doubt she heard the friendly ‘have a great flight’ wish uttered at her back by the kindly bus driver as she sailed past.
Without rushing, I climbed the narrow stairs and boarded the plane.
With an ungraceful bump to the head on entry (forgetting how small these planes are), I handed my phone over for the steward to check my e-boarding pass.
I knew my seat and I knew where it was. Five large steps down the tiny plane and I was seated. Belt on low and tight across my hips, handbag with necessary handkerchief, water bottle, chewing gum, mini iPad and phone removed, and then stowed safely under the seat in front of me.
I was ready.
But it was not time yet.
The waiting would continue.
Transitions, Travel, Waiting
Transitions, and especially grief, are like this. Like travel. Like waiting.
We think each step is taking us closer, getting us to a point where finally, we will have arrived.
Transitions make time slow down, just as travel does.
Similarly, grief for the loss of our child is a lifetime journey.
We may never really arrive at the envisaged end destination. Rather, we are always waiting for something, someone.
We long to arrive at our destination; a place where we are free, happy with no memory or pain of the upset we’ve been through. But that destination is elusive, and in the case of grief, it doesn’t exist.
But then, there is an unforeseen delay and you are held up. Your grief, anxiety or feeling of overwhelm rears its head again, holding you up. Preventing you from moving forward until you patiently wait it out.
The Choice is yours
You can get agitated, like the lady on the plane. Or wait patiently. The choice is yours. Feeling upset and agitated about the delay, and your transition, does not change the outcome. You might get to the next place faster, just as the lady here was first onto the plane. But, you will inevitably have to wait again, just as she did.
Or you can be patient and be kind to yourself as you move through this next phase. Knowing, as you do, that patience with yourself and the process results in a more calm and pleasant experience.
As even with delays, just like when we travel, there is always something in this life to look forward to. The destination we are travelling to, the smile of a loved one, the joy of finding our purpose and passion, the contentment of a life well lived.
Always, despite the delays, there is something to look forward to and keep us moving towards our goal; a life full of joy, hope and love.
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