She’s finally resting quietly now. The starched white hospital sheets, void of any warmth or comfort, slowly rise and fall with each wonderful breath.
If she awakens, she will want her blue blankie, the one she’s had since high school. Old and tattered, it has seen her through many a crisis. Hopefully it will see her through this one.
Before the surgery, she said don’t bother to bring it. Then again she said a lot of things before the surgery — the surgery that was to save her life. I have her blankie with me.
It never ceases to amaze me how one’s life can change with a simple knock on the door, a letter in the mail, or a phone call — especially if that phone call is from a specialist. The doctor said what they found was unexpected, and we had some decisions to make. Decisions aren’t good when the only answers are bad and not as bad.
Wills, medical directives and burial arrangements are things we’ve never thought about. Besides those are life decisions people much older than we are have to deal with.
We’re too young, too full of life, and have too much to live for. We have years before we have to start thinking about such things. Nothing is going to happen to us. We’re both too healthy — or so we thought.
My family asked how I was going to deal with all of the uncertainty. I told them I’d deal with it the same way I’ve dealt with adversity all of my adult life. I’ll pray and then I’ll write about it. Somehow the writing also seems to make things better, or at least not as bad.
God guided the surgeon’s hand, and my love’s back with me now — just a few feet away. When she awakes, she will want me to leave. That’s just like her — always thinking of others’ needs before her own. I’ll stay as she has stayed for me many times in the past 11 years of marriage.
Did the sheets stop their movement? No, it’s just fatigue finally catching up with me. I spent last night at the fire department responding to emergency calls. Now I have one of my own to respond to. Still, I’ll sit my vigil until morning.
By then, the doctor’s rounds will give me a moment outside to regain my courage. And clear my thoughts. And cry. Cry because of what might have been, and cry for all the others whose surgical outcome isn’t as good as ours.
She doesn’t need to see how worried her husband really is. For the next two weeks, I have to be strong for the both of us. I won’t go back to work until she’s recovered.
On the edge of forever without the person you love is a difficult place to be. So many people are in hospitals around our town. Most will come home, but some won’t. My thoughts are with them and the families they leave behind.
The Wife stirs a little, and I hold her hand. Luckily, this time, she will be coming home with me.
How does one live without their soul mate? I hope neither of us ever has to find the answer to that question. Sleep well, my love, for tomorrow is the start of the rest of our life together. And a long healthy life I pray it will be.
[Rick Ryckeley, who lives in Senoia, has been a firefighter for more than two decades and a columnist for The Citizen since 2001. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.]