Warning: This work has been rated 16+ for language and mature content.
September 4, 2013
Time goes by when you don’t think about it. I can’t believe it’s been almost a month already. Two weeks ago school started; three weeks ago I got the initial news that something is wrong; one week ago, I was back in the hospital for even more damn tests.
The initial ultrasounds were inconclusive. The second ultrasounds were inconclusive. The blood work came back good. But there’s still something unknown inside me, something that the doctor is concerned about; the way things have been going, I think he’s just as fed up as I am and just wants to figure out what the hell is wrong, if it’s anything at all. I know my arms can’t take much more abuse; the bruises from those needles are bigger and sorer than before. It’s hard to do my job because it hurts to reach in order to clean and organize or file paperwork, and it hurts to carry my clipboard in tucked arms. It’s even a little alarming that I can still see where they stuck me with that enormous needle, leaving a cut half a centimeter thick on my arm.
Thank God I find out everything tomorrow. Finally. I guess it’s real when they say the “third time is the charm.” And I know it won’t be rescheduled again, or they would have told me that when they called me. But no, I’m actually getting a sense of relief because the nurse told me, “We got the CT results back. When can we see you?” and she sounded happy. Now I’m wishing they had done the CT scan first…
I’m so anxious, I can barely stand it. I’ve realized that I may have overreacted at first, but there is still that nagging thought that something is wrong. Jeff is getting anxious, too. After our long conversation yesterday, I do feel slightly guilty, as if my mood has soaked into him and taken over his usually stoic, stable, strong mentality – speaking so frankly on the way home from Montgomery, I got see my own emotions mirrored back through him.
I was driving down the highway, more like coasting at sixty miles an hour. The sky was unusually blue, with spontaneous sun showers leaving a sheen over the fields of the cattle country. My mind had shifted toward those nightmares again.
Jeff interrupted my train of thought with his lush, baritone voice. “What’s the matter, babe?”
I glanced at him. His chocolate eyes seemed to be looking right through me, dissecting every part of me into the finest of details. I sighed, answering him softly, “The usual… Money. Time. School… Children.”
He nodded. “I know. At least I’ve got this, and I feel pretty good about it. It may be a drive, but twelve bucks to fix instruments is a hell of a lot better than flipping pancakes for seven-fifty an hour.”
“I know. You’d be happier too. It’s at least related to your degree.” But what about mine? Will I even get it?
“It will be fine for now. I won’t be miserable, it will look good on my resume, and it can give us a little more stable an income for the next nine months, until I figure out what I’m gonna do.”
“Are you still thinking about Mobile?”
“If I don’t get New Brockton, yeah.” He paused. I could feel him watching me. “Or…if you’d rather me stay here, I can try to get my Master’s at Troy. I’d rather not, because I feel confined here, you know that. Or we try and move a little closer to Montgomery so I’m not driving a hundred miles every day to go to work – “
“I say that because I know you’re worried about Mobile. You don’t want to go –“
“No, I want you to go to Mobile!” I sighed, fighting back the tears that were blurring my vision. “I want you to go to Mobile and be happy. I want to go to Mobile and get out of this backwoods hellhole and actually have a chance at something. Dr. Allard and Dr. O are the only reason I’m even still here! I’m staying for them, because I respect everything that they’ve done for me so far.”
He was quiet.
“I want to go to Mobile. It’s a change of scenery, we can start over, you can get your master’s degree, and I can get involved in the opera. But I can’t. I don’t have the money.”
“How long do you have left?”
“Three years. The way that my schedule looks now, I won’t even intern until August 2016, at the earliest. It could be 2017. That’s four!”
“You still have loans that you can use, and Dr. O will keep giving you scholarship money – “
“My loans will run out. I changed my major so late that I’m going to max out my available hours. Once I hit 180, I’m done. I can’t get any more financial aid. I’m going to have to pay for my last year out of pocket, and that’s something I know I don’t have.”
He touched my hand, not putting any pressure down so I wouldn’t veer. “Baby, it will be alright. That’s why I’m looking for a job. I will have the money to pay for you to finish school if I have to. Maybe with this job…I can even get enough money to get us a house, if not here, then in Mobile, and have it ready for when you come down.”
I lowered my hand and rested it on his leg, letting our fingers lace together. “I don’t even know if I’ll finish anyway…”
“Why do you say that?”
“You know what I want.”
He nodded slowly, pausing. “I know. And who says we can’t?”
I glanced at him. “Until I find out what’s wrong with me, everything. I don’t even know if I can have kids, and even if I can, there goes all the money. We don’t even have enough right now to get started, if we wanted to. We’re barely making enough to cover our bills! I don’t know if all of the medical appointments would be covered by my mom’s insurance; I may be her dependent, but then I’ll have my own dependent. We already can’t afford your hospital bill, as shitty as that was, so what makes you think we can afford payments on a birth? Twenty, thirty thousand dollars? And the clothes and toys and food… You’re talking about upgrades every six months, as fast as they grow. Kids are expensive, Jeff!”
“And all the time… I’m sure my folks will be more than happy to help, but kids require a lot of time, especially from their parents. I wouldn’t be able to juggle a child, school, and Farmer’s all at the same time and be successful at any of them. I’d have to drop one, or both, and I can’t go to school without a job to help pay for it!” A tear ran down my cheek.
“Pull over.” He said firmly.
I sighed, gently putting on the brake and coasting over the margin into the emergency lane. The SUV finally rolled to a stop, and I put it in park and turned on the flashers. I sat still, Josh Groban singing lightly over the stereo system. Jeff touched my cheek, wiping the tears away with deft fingers. “I’m going to keep working. I’m going to keep searching for a better job; hopefully this one will work out. And you’re going to make it. You’re going to keep going to school, and selling furniture, and smiling. I know I don’t say this often, but…God will let things work. He will take care of us as He sees fit, and we will survive. And we will have that family we want. It may not be right now, but it will happen. Okay?”
I nodded, trying so hard not to break down and bawl like an infant. My hands were shaking, I could feel my lip quivering, and my glasses were streaked where my lashes painted my tears upon the lenses.
“Come here.” He wrapped an arm around my shoulders and pulled me across the console to lean against him. When my cheek rested on his shoulder, his heart under my ear, I finally let go.
Jeff held me for several minutes, just letting me cry to Groban’s “You Raise Me Up” as a light rain fell on the car again. As I finally settled down in the safety of his embrace, he tapped my shoulder. “Look. There’s an eagle,” he whispered. When I turned my exhausted gaze to the sky, I saw a bald eagle circling the open fields, balancing on the gentle winds.*
*In Native American folklore, the Eagle Totem is a symbol of strength, courage, wisdom, and balance, like a symbol of hope.