Waiting Room

Waiting Room

While I wait, I worry (9/2006)

I’m waiting in the waiting room. The upbeat instrumental muzak is playing too loudly from the small stereo on the desk in the corner. The harsh fluorescent lights are too bright, reflecting off the depressing threadbare turquoise carpet. I’m the only one here, except for the receptionist behind the desk. She’s filing papers while I write this. My wife’s health is at risk while I write this.

She just went in. I didn’t know if I should go in with her or not. Usually I do whenever we’re at a doctor’s office or the hospital, but, here, well, I just don’t know if I should have gone in or not. I mean, it’s not like I haven’t seen them before. But now it’s going to be so clinical, so medical. So scary.

What if? I don’t want to think about it. I want to stick my head so far down into the sand that the entire situation will go away. I want for this to have never happened, for her doctor to have never told her that she felt something. I want to go back to before any of this happened, when everything was sweetness and light.

But I know I can’t. Must face reality. A is A and all that. My wife, she seems so calm about it. I don’t know how. She is a brave one, having faced several lifetimes worth of difficulties. Maybe she figures this is less critical than the other issues. I don’t know, maybe she’s right. If they catch it early enough.

What’s another scar or two? She has so many others. The others have healed and I kiss them without hesitation. Will I be able to do the same this time, if that’s what it comes to? I hope so. I think so, but I don’t think you really know until you know. But I hope so.

I’ve been sitting here a while now. The Redbook, Better Homes and Gardens, and Good Housekeeping magazines tease me. There’s no way I can sit still enough to read. The bowl of pink carnations on the counter somehow remind me of prom, of nervously pinning a corsage on my date’s dress, just above her left breast. I fumbled badly; she ended up putting it on herself.

Another person has walked in, a patient. And a nurse has appeared behind the desk. The two newcomers and the receptionist seem so calm. Like my wife is. How can they be so friggin’ calm?!? Don’t they understand? Don’t they understand how serious this could be? My wife could be dying. I want to scream. I want to cry. I want to tear my clothes and pull out my hair. I want to shut off my brain, just make it stop.

Now, just as I write this, my wife came out from behind the inner door. She is so calm. I don’t know how she does it, how she’s doing it. We find out in a week. I’ll die a hundred times by then.


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