Long Story Short

The Worst Eight Hours of My Life

While my husband was in surgery, the waiting was the hardest part

Illustration by Maura Condrick

First the bad news: My husband's brain tumor is very large. Then the good news: It's operable. The surgeon's foot bounces up and down, in contrast to his calm voice. My husband appears numb while I take notes, the atmosphere thick with my unspoken fear.

The upshot: an eight-hour surgery. To make matters worse, the doctor calls the night before to tell me that my husband may not regain movement on his right side. His right hand may never hold mine again. I bury his words somewhere deep inside me and throw away the key.

During surgery, I walk the hospital grounds three times. Drink five cups of coffee. Send 30 text messages. Pray to every god in the universe. I wait with family and friends on hard plastic chairs. I'm there but not there.

The anesthesiologist's face in the doorway brings us all to attention. Several minutes later, my husband is wheeled out. We gather around, whispering, "Can he hear us? Was it a success? That turban fits him well."

After a moment that feels like an eternity, my husband finally looks at us, raises his right hand, wiggles his fingers and grins.

The worst eight hours of my life turn into the best.

Tags: marriage