The bad news is my husband’s brain tumor is very large. The good news — it is operable.
The surgeon’s foot bounces up and down, in contrast to his calm voice and steady hand. My husband appears numb. I take notes, capturing the doctor’s words. My fear permeates the atmosphere.
An eight-hour surgery.
Four hundred and eighty minutes. The stock market will open and close. Four million cups of coffee will be consumed. Six billion text messages with be sent. Thousands of school bells with ring. Millions of washing machines will spin.
The night before the surgery, the doctor tells me it’s worse than he imagined. My husband may not regain the movement on the right side of his body. His right hand may never hold mine again.
I bury his words in a deep place, never ever to see the light of day. I throw away the key.
During the surgery, I walk the hospital grounds three times. Drink five cups of coffee. Send thirty text messages. Read two paragraphs of a novel. Read them over again. Pray to every god in the universe. And then some.
I wait with family and friends on hard plastic chairs. We drink tepid coffee from the vending machine. Munch on chips and cookies. Watch a game show on a silent TV.
The clock tick-tocks towards the finish line.
At the sight of the anesthesiologist’s face in the doorway my heart plummets. His smile pulls me forward. Several minutes later, my husband is wheeled past us toward his room. We gather around, whispering. Can he hear us? Was it a success? That turban fits him well.
He looks up. And while the room watches, my husband raises his right hand, gives us the middle finger and grins.
The worst eight hours become the best.