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March 5, 2038, 8:32 a.m.
13 Years, 274 Days Ago
Paul sat with his mother on a leather-cushioned bed in a stale examination room. She wore a typical hospital gown. She held her hands together and whispered prayer after prayer as Paul held her in one arm.
“You want me to go see if I can find the doctor?” Paul asked.
She shook her head, “I understand he’s busy.”
The days leading up to the surgery where a whirlwind of visits to doctors and from friends. One guy came and mowed her lawn. A kind woman Paul had met a few times made seven separate meals and brought them over. His mother still hosted her weekly Bible study group, but she was far more an observer than group leader.
Paul helped were he could, but he was simply impatient to get to this day, when they would pull the stupid tumor out, and everything could go back to the way it was.
But in order for that to happen, the doctor who told them to be there by 5 a.m. needed to show up.
His mother separated her hands long enough to reach up and gently pat his face. “I think this is the sort of thing I’d rather not rush a person on.” She gave him a smile, but he noticed the squint of pain in her eyes.
Paul glared at the door again. Why tell a family to be somewhere just to make them wait hours for a surgery that would save a person’s life? He wanted to go out there and tell someone to let him know what was going on, but he couldn’t bring himself to let his mother go.
He glanced down at her, and the sound of the door opening caused them both to jerk in surprise.
The man who walked in had to be the thinnest person Paul had ever seen. The lab coat was obviously the smallest size available, but it still looked like it was devouring the man who wore it. Doctor Feniker might have been in his fifties or sixties. Gray hair topped a wrinkled head that seemed too big for the man’s neck and shoulders.
“Are you ready to have that tumor out of you?” His voice was gentle and raspy. He offered a surprisingly bright smile.
“Yes,” his mother said.
The doctor looked over her chart. “So far things look to be in order.” He flipped through a few more pages in the thin manila folder in his hands. “We’ll know much more when we go in. If it’s small enough, and it’s safe, we’ll take it out.”
“If!?” Paul moved to stand up, but his mother held him in a surprisingly strong grip. “You’re supposed to take it out!”
“That’s the plan,” Feniker said. “The scans appear to show that it’s safe to remove, but we can’t be certain until we go in.”
“But you made us wait a week! If you weren’t sure, why didn’t you go in the when you first saw it?” Even as Paul fired his questions, his mother gripped his arm.
“Paul,” it was barely more than a whisper from his mom, but it was enough to get him to stop. “I know you’re trying to protect me and care for me, and I love you, but this is frightening enough. I’d like to trust that Doctor Feniker is doing his best and using his best judgment.”
Paul wanted to tell Feniker exactly where he could shove his judgement, but his mother had a point.
“So let’s get started,” Paul said.
Feniker gave a nod and a smile. “The nurses will be here shortly to take her up to surgery.” He gave Paul’s mom another smile and headed out.
Paul glanced at his PID: 8:36 a.m. “It’ll be alright,” he told his mom. He shut his eyes, holding her and trying to think.
He glanced at the door. He studied whatever he could set his eyes on. He look at the gray counter that ended with a sink. He looked at the blood pressure machine across the room from him. He looked back at the door.
“How are you feeling?” He asked his mother.
“A little scared, I admit.” She still held her hands clasped firmly together. He studied them before reaching his own hand over to place them over hers.
“It’ll be OK,” he said again.
“I know,” she whispered.
He looked over a the door again. Where were they? Were they going to make them wait another three or so hours before they came to take her to surgery?
Footsteps came, causing Paul to perk up at the sound, but they just continued past the room.
“Peace be to you.” Paul looked down at his mother, who was speaking with her eyes closed. “My peace I give to you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid.”
Paul let out a breath of air. He looked at the door. He looked back to his mother.
The door came open again. Paul was about to shout at them for taking an eternity, but as he brought up his arm to point an accusing finger at them, he noticed his PID: 8:37 a.m. Two men in blue scrubs rolled a gurney into the room.
They were of equal height and had black hair. One was a little on the heavier side. The heavier one looked at Paul’s mother. “Let’s get you over to surgery.”
His mother nodded her head. Paul stood up to give her room. She got up from the examination table and sat on the gurney. Paul was by her side the moment her legs got up into the rolling bed.
“I’ll be in the waiting room,” Paul said. “As soon as you get back, I”ll come see you.”
“Make sure you get some food while you wait,” she said. “You haven’t eaten yet.”
“I’ll be fine,” he argued.
“You think starving yourself will somehow make the doctor better at his job?” She cocked an eyebrow at him. “Get some food. Maybe say a prayer for your mom.”
He looked away. For the past week, people have been praying with and around his mother. They asked him to join them each time, and he’d politely refused. He didn’t begrudge them their faith, but he certainly didn’t share it.
… to be continued …
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