They cruised down the road effortlessly on the way home from work – traffic was unusually light, even for this time of the day. They continued chatting about nothing that really mattered; they made plans for the weekend, he told her about that story at work for the umpteenth time that day, commented on the furniture sale they saw on a signboard outside a shop they had driven pass just a moment ago, and decided on where to head for lunch the next day. The evening had fully given way to night, and the street lamps along the route they were taking had already been lit up.

As usual, he had one hand on the steering wheel and the other rested on her thigh, fingers clasping her dainty ones in his. She had always loved his big hands, especially when she could catch a whiff of the face moisturizer he normally used, on them. He knew how she loved the masculine scent, so he often joked about keeping a lot of it in stock – just in case the manufacturers decided to discontinue the product. He wanted to hold on to all material things that attracted her to him, if he could.

There was silence as they slowed to a stop at a red light. She looked as though she was deep in thought again. He lifted her hand up to his lips and planted a kiss on it ever so gently. At the back of his mind, he roughly had an idea about what might be running through her head. It was the exact same thing that had been going through his head as well since his visit to the doctor two weeks ago.

He took a deep breath, shifted the gear to neutral, and started to break the silence. “So I’ve been reading up about the surgery on some health forums online…” He went on to fill her in on some details he had come across about the minor surgery he would be having a month from then – there would be stitching, of course, which he would start to feel the pain of once the anesthesia wore off, but it should hurt only for the first few days, at most a week. According to the doctor, it would not be required for him to stay overnight at the hospital after the surgery, but if there was to be bleeding of any sort, it would be advisable that he did.

He was nervous, she could tell. Who in that position would not be? But it was something inevitable – it was something that had to be done, something not quite right about him that had to be fixed. Besides, the doctor had claimed it to be a common condition he had seen in many of his patients before, and was confident that surgery would be the answer.

She was just as anxious about it as he was, albeit for different reasons. For her, she did not have to physically bear the pain of actually going under the knife, but emotionally, it wore her down equally as much. She knew she had no choice but to trust that the surgery would make things right again, but what if it did not? What then?

Nevertheless, she rubbed his thigh reassuringly. She had to pull herself together for him. “It’s going to be okay. I’m going to be there for you. I’ll be there with you until they wheel you in, and I’ll be there again the moment you wake up. I’ll take care of you.” She reached over and kissed him lightly on the cheek.

It soothed him to hear her say those words. He pecked her back.

“Thank you, baby. I love you.”

“It’s what I’m here for,” she went on. “If there is anything I can do, you don’t even have to think twice about asking.”

He firmly squeezed her hand in appreciation. No other words were needed.

Her mind continued to wander when they started driving again. Maybe this was what they call love. For better or for worse, in sickness and in health. Standing by the person you love through it all even though the pain might be slowly eating you up inside.

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