foto: IKS photography
Beyond the timeline
The Nada Chronicles, part 52
By Hilda Spruit
It has been 5 years since my wife looked at me one early morning and asked full of pity and concern: “Will you be all right, Ben?” Her loving face melting my pain away and actually I did not want to bother her.
‘I have been sleeping well and I feel a lot better’, I assured her. ‘Please go, I will be fine.’ Lingering she cleaned away the breakfast things and put on her coat. ‘Are you sure?’, it sounded a little bit suspicious from the hallway. ‘Yep, I’m certain, now go and say hello to the grandchildren.’ I went to the hallway, placed a kiss on her over-anxious cheek and waved good bye. She was going to babysit the grandchildren today, about a two hour drive from where we live.
As soon as I saw her drive out of the street, the magic broke and the well-known pain, that had been part of me so slyly during the last few days, came back into my body. I went inside, poured myself a cup of tea and carefully I sat at my pc to finish the last chapter.
Less than half an hour later I crawled about the floor. Oh such pain! A new cutting pain in the abdomen, overpowering the former ones, had taken hold on me. My body was shuddering and I was hardly able to make it to Magda’s mobile phone. One way or the other, I was not able to reach my wife.
Using my last bit of energy I crawled to the house telephone and pushed her number. “I’m not OK, Magda, please come home”, I moaned, lying on the floor, crippled by the waves of excruciating pain.
“We haven’t been able to find anything yet, Mr Oldenburg. Therefore we are going to undertake a few more examinations”, the doctor said in the hospital, where my wife had taken me as fast as she could.
“You are suffering from a ruptured appendix”, my doctor informed me a number of investigations later. “This means that you are in life threatening danger. It is of the utmost importance that you have an operation immediately. We however, cannot help you. We do not have the right people, nor the capacity to perform such a dangerous operation. Right now all university hospitals in the area are being phoned and we are just waiting to hear from them.”
Just the knowledge that I, not to mention the pain, had to be transported again, made me sick and petrified. Desperately I looked up to Magda. “Carry on Ben, I am with you”. She told me encouragingly.
Astonished my wife asked: “But isn’t this a matter of life and death? One of the specialists of the team scraped his throat. “Because of the well-known heart- and lung problems of your husband the operation will be extremely risky”, he said. Oh yes, I thought, my weak heart and lungs have been a burden all of my life. I knew that some day they, one way or another, would literally mean a dead end.
“So it is not a matter of not being able to operate, but of not daring to operate!, Magda cried out, heavily resentful. My doctor looked at her with regret and bowed his head. “And now?” From her voice I could hear she was panicking.
The doctor addressed me once again. “Mr. Oldenburg, our medical team”, he nodded to the doctors around him, “has decided to carry out this operation, taking all the risks into account, ourselves. The chances that you will survive are very low, but we cannot do anything else and have to let yoú make the choice if you want to let us operate on you. Please decide quickly. There is not very much time left.”
I noticed that the doctor had made an effort to have to make this announcement and in the eyes of the other specialists I could read loads of uncertainty. Full of pity my doctor put a hand on Magda’s shoulder. “I am really very sorry, madam.”
“Please let me go”, I sighed, exhausted. “It really has been enough now”. I was on the verge to give all up and carelessly I felt myself sinking away in a bitter sweet flush.
Magda looked at me. Her eyes filled up with crystal tears that touched her cheek one by one, after which I felt them splashing apart upon my lower arm. They were as heavy as lead and I was happy for her she had got rid of them.
“Ben”, she whispered, while her efforts to suppress the trembling in her voice were failing, “Ben, I cannot go without you, please, I don’t want to go without you, your children and the little ones cannot go without you. Bart’s daughter is not yet born. You do want to meet her, won’t you?”
The intensity of her appeal was so profound and led to the making of a voyage within myself. I closed my eyes. In my mind I saw the children and grandchildren and again the vision came to me of my Magda, surrounded by that exquisite, pure white light. Time seemed to have come to an end. I realized, I had to make this decision, a decision between life and death.
As always in difficult situations, I called on my divine spirit and asked what to do. Never before was the answer so plain as this time: “It doesn’t matter, Ben, this will be your choice only and your preference is going to be recognized, just like that.”
With new acquired strength I opened my eyes, took Magda’s hand and looked directly into the eyes of my brave doctor and his team. “You are going to operate on me. I am grateful and admire your courage.”
“Please say good-bye to your loved ones, mister Oldenburg, he said obtusely. We will come and collect you for the operation within half an hour.”
When the door of the hospital ward had closed behind the team, Magda called the children. I spoke to them in all serenity and we told each other good bye, although I knew all would be well in the end. When the nurse came to fetch me, I took Magda´s hand and pushed it close to my heart. ” It is going to be fine girlie, please believe me.”
In the operation room I received a spinal injection. The entire operation area was hidden behind green towels, in order to prevent me from seeing anything. How is it possible, I thought, strangely enough wide awake, that nobody had thought about the possibility that the reflection in the large operation lamp, allowed me to follow the surgery in its entirety. As if I was watching a medical television show, I was able to see how the arm of the surgeon went into my body, up to his elbow. I turned away and tried to give answers to my many questions.
What was their idea of this operation? When, during the surgery, would arrive the moment I would die? Why did they not put me under total narcosis under these circumstances? Would it be the complications after the operation for which they were that afraid? All will be well, was the answer to each question. I assured myself I could have confidence in this knowledge.
And all went well, although it was a long time until the wound was healed. My rescuers called it a medical miracle, but I know that beforehand they as well as myself had to make that brave choice, through which this miracle became possible in the end.
Neither the past, nor the here and now, or the future can deprive me of the extra time I got. It is because of the connections I have with the other world since the operation, I know that I am alive, here as well as there.
The fact that I received more time than that originally was allotted to me and that I have had the opportunity to make my own choices in that, is a privilege. Time isn´t important for me anymore. What is important in my life is the quality that I experience together with my loved ones and friends, ánd the quality that I am able to convey, with the help of the world behind the veils, in favour of a fellow human being.