Gazing into my husband's eyes in the post-op recovery room just after his surgery was one of those moments.
We knew Archie was sick. The nagging pain. The exhaustion. We knew something was wrong, so when we got the cancer diagnosis we were ready to hear it. Archie bore the news like a champion and I didn't do too poorly either. I had only two emotional breakdowns and, given my penchant for dramatics, that is pretty impressive.
But sitting in the waiting room as the doctors sliced open my husband-of-two-days to remove the tumor, I was on the brink of a third. An hour in, the surgeon came out to let me know the extraction had gone well, they were almost done, and I would be called back to see Archie in just a few minutes. An hour of minutes ticked slowly by, and then another with no word. The nurse was exceptionally patient but I could tell she was growing weary of me timidly approaching her desk every twenty minutes and whispering unsteadily, "I'm sorry, could you check one more time if he's okay?" Bless her heart, she called back every single time I asked though the answer was always the same: no news.
I sat on the grey chair in the corner of the waiting room slowly twisting my wedding ring around and around as an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond played quietly overhead and panic grew thick in my throat. The waiting was torturous; I spent it alternately staring blankly at the wall and praying silently, "Please, God. Please. Let him be okay."
When Archie and I were finally reunited, I'm not sure which of us was more high. He was doped up on painkillers and I was tripping on relief. Nurses bumbled around, fussing over him, but neither of us could look away.
"I asked for you," he told me. "I kept asking where my wife was."
"I know. I'm right here," I said, kissing his forehead.
We stared at each other for an hour, unable to say anything except "I love you" back and forth a hundred times. I squeezed his hand and he smiled at me, both of us drunk with happiness at being together and in love. That's the moment I'll always remember: looking at my husband in a hospital bed, loving him more than ever before and knowing that he is my whole world.
The treatment for cancer is long and scary. I'm sure there will be plenty of waiting rooms and hospital beds and blinking back tears in the months ahead. But, somehow, it's okay. I have a lovely moment of peace remembering he and I are in this thing together and, well, that feels pretty good.
And in the quiet moments of the night, as I listen to Archie's quiet, steady breathing, I gently stroke the soft part of his arm, right inside his elbow, and say a silent prayer of thanksgiving. Thankful that I have him. Thankful that we have this beautiful life together with more love than either of us expected. Thankful that we have an amazing journey ahead of us. And, most of all, thankful we get to experience every second of it side-by-side, hand-in-hand.
And I smile into the darkness and remember that moment always.