"Time passes. Listen. Time Passes..."
Dylan Thomas,Under Milk Wood.
Pat went in to have an operation on his knee on Friday. I dropped him off at the hospital at 7am (6.15am departure from home, urgh) but decided to sit with him as the nurse went through all the paperwork. It was only day surgery, and she said they would phone me when he was ready to be collected. When was that likely to be, I asked, as a ballpark figure? She reckoned, given that he would be going down to theatre about 9am, that he'd be ready about 11. Fine, I thought, and trundled home.
By 2.30pm I was starting to worry. I had figured 11am was a bit optimistic, but three and half hours is a long time to wait, on top of the three I had already sat through after arriving home. In the end I rang the ward, and they said, oh yes, he's fine. You can come and get him now if you like. It turned out that the cartilage they were mending was far more badly damaged than expected, hence the operation took longer.
I was struck how much the day felt like taking an exam. I remembered all the times I kept telling myself, back in my school and college days, sitting at one of those rickety little tables, waiting for the most terrifying words ever uttered ('Please turn over your paper and begin...'), this is only three hours of your life. Time will not stop and leave you stuck here. The minute hand keeps on ticking away. Time passes. And you will still be here at the end of the morning, you will still be alive; the world will not stop turning.
Fortunately, nothing bad had happened to Pat, (Thank the Gods!) and even if it had, they would have rung me immediately to tell me. That they had not rung was simply an oversight on a busy ward. It was tremendously comforting to keep reminding myself throughout that worrying day that tomorrow would come, that this would all be over soon, for better or worse, but it will all pass, as all things pass away. So I will try to remember that, next time I am horribly nervous.