Waiting is an inevitable in life, something that happens to anyone at any given moment as a variable test of their patience, be it for something as miniscule as waiting in a long line to place a food order or to transact money at an A.T.M., or as vast as a long flight overseas, over fifteen hours stuck in the same plane seat with no room to move, or, as had been the case for the Hwang Family, a medical operation that would hopefully have a happy ending.
From the time she had furiously dialed her brother’s number into her phone, Sandra had been waiting - waiting for Nathan to show up and assure her that everything was going to be okay even though she was realistic enough to know no one could know for sure; waiting for the trauma staff to give her any number of updates on the condition of her son who she hadn’t seen since he had left the restaurant earlier in the evening; waiting for Michael to pick up something from the cafeteria even though there was a very real likelihood that she couldn’t eat it - perhaps wouldn’t eat it - even if her stomach had wanted her to; and waiting, once only so many of these queues had found some absolution, for the surgical staff to rouse her from what small slices of sleep she found while wedged in a waiting room chair and tell her the one thing she needed to know: Was her son alive?
Even if there had been those who attempted to usher her back home where she could find some sense of comfort in familiar surroundings, namely somewhere soft to sleep if her mind was so willing to do so, that didn’t speak so loudly of sterile uncertainty, Sandra rejected the idea that she would return home without her son. No, reasonably, she couldn’t pick him up and cradle him out of the hospital then and there like she wanted to, considering the surgery itself and the monitoring and everything else that would inevitably go into treatment if he came out of surgery without issue; but she could stay. She could be there and she could continue to do the only thing she could do that wasn’t fretting and worrying and crying when the stress brought on by the tick of the clock reached a peak before ebbing into calm uncertainty again.
She could wait.
She would wait.
These things took time, she knew that, and it wasn’t just a span of minutes like someone getting a set of stitches out, something that wouldn’t have brought her to the Emergency Room to begin with, but hours and that was just the start. It wasn’t until they had come out with some news - not good, albeit not the best, but certainly not bad nor the worst - that leaving had even been considered.
“Mrs. Armitage… We have an update on your son.”
That they had been able to remove the bullet and further stopped the bleeding that would have threatened to put him in, if it hadn’t already, hemorrhagic shock, if it hadn’t already put him in were good things. That he had come out of surgery alive albeit still unconscious had been another, one that was laced with such terrifying uncertainty as well as hope that the run for the horizon of well being was clear, but there was the ever-lingering pit in her stomach that worried about what could happen next as the doctor continued to explain in as layman of terms as possible his move to the Intensive Care Unit and any additional problems that could have risen.
“Oxygen free radical generation” meant little to her, but “cell death” was something she could fathom, “ischemia-reperfusion injury” further instilled worry about what might have happened when he had been resuscitated once it had been explained to her in thorough measure, and the potential for “multi-organ dysfunction” was only mildly shadowed by “cerebral autoregulatory capacity” being exceeded, a term that was quick to pass over her head save for its neurological basis.
How much of it had been comforting was questionable, but where such wide uncertainty could have spiked into panic of the unknown, putting fire to the fury she felt towards whoever had done this, the first sight of her son had been sobering. Heavy sedation at least ensured that he wasn’t in pain though, when she had been allowed access to the room at last, she didn’t know if he could hear her when she spoke or felt her touch when she put her hand on his or pressed a kiss to his forehead. Had he been able to, there was no response.
All she could do was wait.