The Observer is typing this on the tiny, digital keyboard of our phone, sitting in a doctor's office waiting room, waiting for the love of our undeserving life to emerge from the door. Fat fingers and little keyboarditis abound, but the time when you're waiting in a doctor's office pours out like cold caramel sauce, and we'd rather do this than bite our nails.
It's not a big thing she found, not a lump or mass, not an angry black spot or simmering brown splotch. Just a pale spot, oblong, hard as a pebble, slightly raised but otherwise exactly the same color as the rest of her, hard to easily find unless you were looking for it. Enough, however, to cause a truckload of worry for us both, with weeks of waiting for an appointment, and right here at Christmastime.
Probably nothing. Even her regular doc said so before sending us here. But such anxiety in that "probably." Probably is a thousandth of an inch from "nothing," but that tiniest gap has been a yawning gulf her man has tumbled down some nights, when her own worried and troubled sleep has taken her beside me.
The waiting room is full. Other women, other men; other husbands and wives. The nurses appear and call: Bennett, Jones, Green, Bell, Curtis. Women rise and disappear through the doors, following her into the unseen world behind the wall, the most normal thing in the world, as it should be.
Downstairs in the lobby of the hospital as we write this, a choir has struck up, angelic voices, singing "All Through the Night," folding into "Away in a Manger," and we think about strength.
This is what it is to love someone, brothers and sisters: It is not roses and date nights. It is not clasped hands and whispers. Love is not the things we do in the dark. Love is this: that moment when you realize that the circle of your worry has broadened to encompass another; the moment when you realize that you would give any part of your life, even your life, to see that person spared from hurt or harm. And so it is with her, and has been since soon after The Observer first observed her, and came to know her gentle heart, a feeling like coming home at last from the battlefield.
Probably nothing. Probably. But probably is not the full draught of nothing. Probably always has the blade of "maybe" broken off inside it. Probably is the Queen Bitch of the Kingdom of What Could Be, and that is a land of shadow.
And so one woman's man waits here in this uncomfortable chair, waiting for her to emerge, and rides the haunted country of Maybe. The clock in the nurses station ticks, and we think of what it would be like to stand with her and fight the monster whose teeth we cannot break, whose eyes we cannot gouge, whose face we cannot crush into the dirt, relishing its pain, forcing that beast to beg her forgiveness with its forked tongue.
From behind the wall between us, she texts me that she's still back there, waiting. That she didn't think it would take this long. Neither did her man. And so we wait. We embroider this tiny keyboard with our nervous thumbs and wait. We think our self a jackass for making so much out of a spot we could easily cover with the tip of a single finger, and we wait. For the door to open. To see her face. To hear that the Queen Bitch will wait another day. To get the word that her man can put his sword back in the umbrella stand, and perch his war helmet back atop the bust of Pallas just above our chamber door, to gather dust again. But for now, we wait for another door to open and reveal her to us like a woman restored after being sawed in half in a magic act. Ta-da! But the wait is taking far too long.
And then, because this is 2015, the door doesn't have to open. The door turns out to be this very phone, in our hand: "Ultrasound says it's nothing. Just waiting for doctor to confirm." And five minutes later, she emerges. And we walk to the empty elevator. And we step inside. And when the doors slide closed on Maybe, her man turns to her and kisses her like he has come home to her from the battlefield, from fighting the devils of his own heart.