There is not a lot to say about the time during my bride’s surgery. The truth is I spent most of it talking with family, staring at a T.V. screen that gave updates, and eating. I am really good eating. I am bad at waiting. I hate waiting.
My emotions were all over the place. People kept asking me how I was doing and I didn’t know how to respond. An honest answer would have been, “Not good, I am fearful she will die on the table and I will be left a widower with a 5-year-old.” I never said that. I gave rehearsed answers. I told people I was okay.
It wasn’t true. Most people just accepted my reply. However, there were two people who pulled me aside and didn’t accept my simple answer, my dad and John T. (That’s his nickname) Both of them wanted to know the real truth. I told them.
I explained to them I didn’t know what I was feeling. I was in a weird space. My heart and mind were at war with each other. My heart kept telling me to trust the surgeon. It reminded me my bride was in the hands of a very competent human being. My mind played tricks on me. It replayed images from my dreams. All day the images were set on a loop like a broken record. I kept seeing caskets, tears, sad doctors and an empty bed.
I didn’t tell the men my dreams. I didn’t want to burden them. I also didn’t want to hear my voice paint the gruesome pictures. In some ways, my silence was a way to pretend they never occurred. Even though I kept seeing the images, to not speak of them made them obsolete. It kept me sane as my heart and mind continued to argue.
To occupy the time throughout the surgery, I kept staring at the stupid buzzer. I wanted to hear something. I wanted it’s red light to blink and call me to new information. I kept turning it over and over in my hands. I studied it. I gazed at it longingly. I felt like an awkward junior high boy at his first dance. I try to metaphysically wield it to vibrate. It didn’t comply. Instead, for most of the day, it just sat in my lap.
When it finally did buzz I was already meeting with our surgeon. I was sitting down listening intently to all the news. My mind was fixated on her every word. She was explaining all that she had seen and done. It’s was at that moment the dumb thing decided to go off. It blinked and buzzed at me. I look down and thought, “figures.” I was told later it was resetting itself. Way to go buzzer.
From that moment on I lost all faith in my plastic friend. When I needed a jolt of information, I went to the front desk. I tried really hard not to incessantly asked questions. Every time the phone rang my eyes would shoot to the desk. One time my eyes met with the nice lady who answered the phones. Suddenly I felt like a stalker at the park. I quickly acted like I got a text message and hid my shame. Honestly, I went the desk so much that by the time the second doctor came to talk to me, I figured I should invite the desk lady to Thanksgiving dinner. I didn’t.
When our Plastic surgeon finally came in it was getting close to dinner time. He explained to me the medical procedure he chose to do once he got into the operating room. He explained that the version of reconstruction he chose was an old way of doing it. So old it was from back in the 90’s. Suddenly, I felt really old.
Once the Plastic surgeon left we had to wait some more. I was told that my bride was in recovery and it could take 2 hours for her to be ready for a room. My heart dropped. I thought for a moment about creating a diversion and running through the hallways until I found her. However, I knew she would disapprove. I also figured she would give me, “That look,”. It’s the look I am used to getting when I do something stupid. I decided to wait.
Then, all of a sudden I heard my name. I looked up to see the nice lady from behind the desk telling me I could see my bride. I didn’t ask questions, I just followed her. I told her repeatedly how thankful I was to get to see my wife. As we navigated the hallways, I took slow controlled breaths as I prepared to see my soul mate’s face. And then, as the sliding door opened to a room filled with curtains and beds, I saw her.
Andrea was wrapped tightly in an ungodly amount of blankets. She was sleeping peacefully and I didn’t want to disturb her. I told the nurse I was okay with just standing next to her. I was informed she needed to wake up so it was okay. I leaned in, kiss my bride on the forehead, and softly whispered, “Hey babe, how are you?”
She looked at me through glassy eyes. I could tell the drugs were still working really well. Andrea tried to mumble a few words but all I could hear was, “Will you hold my hand?” I reached down and softly placed my hands in hers. I took my right hand and began to slowly stroke her arm. Every time my hand moved up her arm, she would mumble, “Please, don’t let go of my hand.” I stopped caressing her arms and complied. Here’s the funny part. Andrea doesn’t remember this at all, but I sure do. It was nice to know that even in a drug induced stupor my wife loves me. It is a memory I will hold on to for the rest of my life.
After a few minutes, Andrea asked if I could stay longer. The nurse said no because I actually wasn’t supposed to be back there. She made an exception because of my bride’s type of surgery. I was thankful for her letting me break the rules. Her grace during such tragedy made the day easier. It made it brighter. That moment I shared with Andrea, even though she will never remember it, gave me peace and was worth the wait.
Because I am impatient I sometimes miss things. I get so caught up in getting to the end I don’t get to enjoy the journey. I am thankful that this day I got a chance to slow down. The time between Andrea beeing wheeled away and when I got to see her felt like forever. However, I got to experience a moment I will never forget. I got to share something with Andrea, even though she will never remember it, that gave me peace. I am grateful for it and it was worth the wait.