Oh no! my mind would wonder. What does this MEAN? He took an early lunch!
"You could have at least told me!" I would say out loud. But poor Ben had no idea he was expected to announce his lunch habits to me when he worked across town and I had given him no indication that I would want to know.
Ben often had to work long, long hours in those first few weeks. His studio was in crunch time trying to finish the tv show they were producing before the fast approaching deadline arrived. One night though, Ben was able to come home at a normal hour, and I was elated! I cooked some chicken alfredo -- one of his favorites -- and I timed it perfectly. By that point Ben knew he should let me know the exact moment he was leaving work (not when he was "wrapping up" -- there's a difference) and I knew down to within 120 seconds just how long it would take him to get home, even accounting for the traffic patterns of different days of the week. And if he took a little longer I could look up traffic reports on the highways he took home and create a revised ETA! That's normal, right?
Well anyway, the appointed time came and went for when Ben was supposed to be home. The alfredo was slowly congealing on the stove. It had been, like, two whole minutes since he should have arrived so I did some Googling. No accidents or unusual traffic on his route home...so what was causing the delay? I decided to be a good girl and wait until he was 5 minutes late before I texted him -- he seemed to get irked if I was too worry-prone and nosy, for some reason. When the clock finally hit the 5 minute mark I whipped out my phone with real relief, certain I was going to have answers soon. Maybe he had given someone a ride home?
I started pacing the kitchen. Peeking out the back door towards the parking lot every five minutes. Keeping my eyes glued to the window that faces the driveway.
5 minutes isn't such a big deal, right? Perhaps there was an accident so new it just hadn't been reported the first time I checked.So I checked again...still nothing. Clear highways and streets. It's been 10 minutes by this point and I'm really starting to worry.
Oh, God! I prayed. Please don't let me be one of those tragic widows whose husband gets taken away after only a few weeks of marriage! Somehow I thought it was more tragic that way, as opposed to spending years with your spouse and raising children with them before having them die unexpectedly. Ah, the naivety of young love.
Anyway, back to the story. 10 minutes have passed. 11....12....13....14. The tension that was building in me with each passing moment was unbearable. It was like I had reached my absolute limit of stress and worry only to forcibly have my limits redefined and to reach those as well! I started bargaining with God.
Please, God! I will be the best wife ever! I will never take my husband for granted. You have shown me so much in this instance, please, please, bring him back to me alive!
15 minutes. I tried to calm myself down. I really, really tried. People have been 15 minutes late before, right? I reasoned. He probably just didn't see my text. I should call instead, he's sure to hear that. So I call. It rings. And rings, and rings, and rings. Voicemail. What? Ben didn't answer his phone? I genuinely could not remember the last time that had happened, and that is what finally sent me over the edge of reality I had so tenuously been clinging onto. I started waiting for that phone call or knock on the door from a police officer or medical professional letting me know that my husband was gone. I took a different tack bargaining with God.
Please, God, let me at least say goodbye to him! Let them notify me in enough time to see him alive one last time -- if only for a few minutes!
20 minutes late. I am now on the kitchen floor, crying my eyes out while trying to figure out how I'm going to tell people the bad news, wondering whether I should get a job or move back in with my parents, and realizing how completely crappy those life options are without Ben. The fettuccine noodles have, by this point, hardened to become one giant stringy monster from whom there is no escape. The alfredo sauce has cooled and thickened back into cheese-like solidity. I hear a sound at the door.
My heart freezes. That sounds like a key! But that couldn't possibly be...no, I won't let myself hope!
It was Ben. He was home. Standing sweetly in the doorway he held out a bouquet of flowers for me while grinning like a fool in love. And that was when he got to see his weeping bride scream at him for the first time, all because he took so #$%*$ long at the grocery store, meticulously picking out the most perfect flowers he could find for the love of his life.
Epilogue: For those of you wondering, we got past this issue by having a tracking chip implanted under Ben's skin and allotting him scheduled stops for flowers twice a month. No more worrying now!