Last week Monday I took a personal day so I could take Cortney to the hospital for a scheduled, routine procedure: a colonoscopy.
Now don’t worry I know, I know. He’s way too young for a colonoscopy. He had an issue. He has family history of crappy stuff. Ipso facto he went in for the procedure just to make sure things were fine. And they are.
Things are fine.
I brought him in at 8:45am to get him all set up and ready for the 9:45 procedure. He was sick of not eating and doing the prep and he just wanted it done. We listened to all the nurses and doctors about how it would go and what I could expect him to act like when he came back from the procedure (loopy and out of it).
Eventually they wheeled him out and I settled back to get some work done while I waited.
When he came back, he was indeed loopy. In fact, he wasn’t really totally awake yet at all. It was more unsettling to see than I was prepared for.
In the ten years we’ve been together, Cortney has had one surgery: his appendectomy. His dad had died early that day and by the time I drove Cort to the ER I was in survival mode myself. That day is a blur of forgotten and acutely remembered moments. I didn’t see Cortney until after he had been in recovery and woken up, albeit still acting silly and flirty with the nurses.
This past Monday he was still not actually eyes-open-awake yet when I saw him.
He mumbled some things about football and licked his dry lips a few times. I figured he must super thirsty since he hadn’t had a sip of anything since 6am and it was almost 11am.
His eyes struggled to open and he said in a low voice that he was just so tired.
I held his hand. The one with the IV in it, and something punched me in the chest.
I’m not entirely sure how to describe it other than to say it was like when people talk about their life flashing in front of their eyes. Only, it wasn’t my past life that flashed, it was our future.
Simultaneously all the still frames of his dad’s sickness flipped through my consciousness like a Rolodex on speed.
It was like one of those nightmares that is terrifying and extremely vivid while it’s happening, but the second you wake up it starts to go away from your visual memory, but lingers in your feelings memory.
I clutched his heavy-hand and forced myself to be calm and swallow down the anxiety. I slowly rubbed the back of his hand with my thumb and said gentle little things to him.
I refused to let myself close my eyes because I knew the images were there. The ones where we are old, but not old enough. Never old enough. Where I am holding a wrinkled and grayed version of that strong, soft hand. The visions that have me wondering how I will go on without him.
The images being there were startling and disconcerting and very much blended with his dad’s last days in the hospice bed.
I gasped at the realness of it. My eyes burned.
But before I could lose my breath completely, a doctor or nurse came in, and Cort became a bit more lucid, and the moment passed. We moved on with what came next. Cortney requested apple juice and the proclaimed it to be the best damn apple juice he’d ever had.
The moment had passed. Because that is what it was: a moment. All the feelings and visuals and possible heartache happened in less than a minute, and just like that it was gone. We were in the present again.
When the doctor gave us the boring news we were expecting, I could have hugged him. We were expecting there to be nothing, and there was nothing.
But that brief moment in time–that flash of past and future–made me so very grateful for a boring present.