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                              The Long Wait            

                              Leo Stonewall Jackson Chilson

I hate waiting!

I sit and wait at a red light. I stand and wait behind someone at the grocery store with more than fifteen items in her cart. And I wait patiently at the doctor’s office for my name to be called.

But not once did I have the feeling of helplessness which I have now.

I like being in charge…making decisions…and watching as things were performed to my dictates.

Today, I was simply another man, pacing the floor!

When she gave me the news, I was dumb-struck!

“Are…are you sure?” was all I could mutter.

A simple nod of her head was my answer.

Thank goodness there was a chair right behind me, or I would have ended up on the floor.

Looking up, I again asked, just to be ABSOLUTELY SURE in my mind, “Are you sure?”

Kneeling in front of me, and taking my hands, she replied, “Yes. I’m sure. All the tests say so.”

I managed a heavy sigh before saying two little words, “How long?”

“I would say…maybe two months at the most.”

Two months? Sixty more days and my life will change!

Taking my hands, she helped me to my feet, before giving me a big hug.

I needed it more than she did, but I appreciated the contact.

When we reached home, I did all I could to make her as comfortable as I could.

I could tell she appreciated it from the way she looked up at me from her bed.

“It’s gonna be okay, sweetie. I’ll take good care of you. I promise.”

She just snuggled her head closer to her pillow and went to sleep.

The days passed slowly, and painfully, for me.

I was at work, while she was home all alone.

She’s always been alone, but never in her condition.

If I was near the house when it was lunchtime, I would make an effort to stop in and see her.

She always met me at the door…but as time passed, it became harder and harder for her to make that short journey.

Then, one day, the short trips stopped.

It was breaking my heart.

At night, I would sit in my favorite chair, and she would lay curled up on the couch, her eyes never leaving my face.

About a month and a half after getting the news, I actually had to start helping her to the couch, doing all I could to make her comfortable.

I moved from my chair, and began sitting next to her, just so I could touch her and let her know I was there for her.

Many times, I changed my position some so she could lay her head on my lap…and she would give a small sigh and fall asleep, as my hand gently caressed her.

And she heard, many, many times, my voice saying, “I love you, sweetie!”

From the moment I heard the news, I started taking her to see the doctor every three weeks for a check-up…and I was always told the same thing, “She’s doing the best she can at this stage.”

Sitting in this waiting room was too much for me, so I hopped to my feet and began pacing the floor…my eyes constantly glancing at the closed door.

The door that concealed my loved one from me!

Two weeks ago I simply turned around the calendar on the refrigerator so I wouldn’t have to look at the days slowly being counted down.

The date was firmly fixed in my mind!

As I paced, my mind went back to five days ago.

She didn’t want to get out of bed, and I had to almost force her to her feet and make her walk around, and it tore at my heart seeing her struggling to take those tiny steps.

They were slow and awkward, and each one seemed to take something out of her.

But she was game, and looked up at me with those beautiful eyes, thanking me.

But she was extremely happy when I let her lay back down.

I had to wipe some tears from my face, as I turned to go and fix her something to eat.

As I prepared her meal, I hoped that this time she would eat something, although I had been warned that her appetite would decrease as the end drew near.

I’m so use her having a hearty appetite, and I found it hard to believe she is now turning her head away from her favorite meal.

But my love for her made me keep trying to get her to eat.

Several times I would sit cross-legged in front of her, holding a small spoonful of food, coaxing her to take a bite.

Sometimes she would…but often times, she would just look away.

“Please eat something, sweetie,” I would beg, pushing the spoon closer.

She would just back away a little, letting me know food was of no interest to her.

After the third time this happened, I called the doctor, and was informed that there was nothing else I could do.

“She’ll eat if she wants, but almost always, they lose interest in eating.”

As I scraped the food into the trash, I could hear a low moan from her, and I clenched my fist in helplessness!

Someone entered the waiting room and grabbed a seat, taking a moment to glance at me.

I think I managed to give her a half-smile.

A smile I didn’t feel.

It was two hours ago that the pains really started hitting her…and thank god I was home!

I gathered her up in my arms as carefully as I could, and carried her out to the car.

Driving the speed limit really tested my patience, as her cries of distress from the back seat made me want to push the gas petal all the way to the floor.

But I didn’t.

But that didn’t mean I didn’t use a few choice words every time I caught a red light!

It was with relief that I pulled into the parking lot at the hospital, and I took her in my arms and carried her inside the brownstone building.

I had called ahead, and a nurse was waiting for me, and together, we laid my love on a stretcher.

The nurse went one way, and I, at my own discretion, went the other.

Does this make me a bad person? I wondered. Not wanting to be at the end of her suffering.

Falling back into a chair, I looked up at the white ceiling and began to count the tiles.

I had reached ninety-four, when I heard, “Mr. Chilson.”

Standing, I looked at the same nurse, and she said, “It’s all over. You can go see her now.”

I took a moment to brush my hair back with my hands, and wiped them on my trousers as I followed the woman.

“She’s in here,” she said, pointing at an open door.

I hesitated for a moment, taking the time to compose myself. After several deep breaths, I stepped inside.

Tears welled up in my eyes, and. my hand flew to my mouth in surprise when I saw her.

There she was, looking calm and peaceful, as if she had not gone through all the changes of the last several months.

I wiped off some tears with the back of my shirt sleeve, as I walked over to her.

Smiling, I reached down and ran my hand through her curly hair.

She looked up at me and licked my hand!

Next to her lay six small Chesapeake Bay Retriever puppies, and the doctor, who had come up behind me unheard, said, “She did great, Mr. Chilson. She delivered them quickly, and from what I can tell, everyone is healthy. Congratulations!”

I must have looked silly to her the way I was grinning, but our waiting was over, and life in our house was going to very, very different!

July 09, 2020 20:42

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1 comment

Jenna Melancon
20:14 Jul 17, 2020

That's a fun twist at the end. This was an enjoyable read! Consider using exclamation points more sparingly. They interfere with the buildup of tension throughout the story.

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