I sit in the waiting room, hyper-alert, watching the clock tick a minute forward every hour or so. We had both done all the reading, about how this was a necessary procedure and the complication rate is only 10% or so, and recovery time will probably only be a week or two and blah blah blah.
Intellectually, I get it. But my intellect isn't working very well at the moment.
She's gonna be just fine. And here I sit, looking up from my magazine every time someone walks into this large, crowded room. Is it an orderly, telling me that surgery went fine and I can go see her? Or is it far worse, a doctor, eyes burning red from fatigue and sadness, coming to tell me about unexpected complications and they did everything they could but...
I'm used to having control, and I have none. I can just sit here and vibrate and watch the clock. My hands are cold and damp. My face feels hot, and my eyes are watering like when I stick my head out the car window while doing 130 down the highway.
The door opens. A man walks in. He's not an orderly, in fact he's dressed like a surgeon. I concentrate on dissolving. I am silent and I am invisible, and if he wants to deliver bad news, he won't be able to because I am not there, I have ceased to exist. He sits down next to me and time freezes. His eyes are kind, but they are also weary - maybe resigned? He has delivered bad news before. I can see his bushy beard poke through his surgical mask in a few places, the occasional grey hair mixed in to remind him that his path has been a long one. I see the yellow stains between the fingers of his right hand, and I see that he's wearing a wedding ring on his left. As time is frozen, I can take a look around him, and I see that his glasses are held on with a hand-made string clasp, thin red cord knotted with shiny thread. His kid probably made it for him.
I freeze things for as long as I can, but eventually I have to let time start up again. I think of her lips on my forehead, then her hand in mine as we walk across the park near our house.
He turns to me and speaks.
"Are you Mr. Rasmussen?"
Angels start to sing.
"No, I'm not. Sorry." The 'sorry' part is one of the biggest lies I have ever told.
The surgeon gets up and walks across the room to another bald guy, and asks him the same question. The man answers, and they both leave the room together. Neither man returns.
I'm too nervous to read any more. I just sit, and stare at that fucking clock on the wall.
Nineteen minutes later, an orderly comes over to me.
"Are you Mr. Sulako?"
"Yes, yes I am"
"The doctor said the surgery went well; she's in the recovery room now, and you'll be able to see her in about an hour"
This woman is my life. Thank you, thank you, thank you.