Saturday, February 14, 2009

Lub Dub, a short story

I never wanted to marry until I was at least 25. Because when you're anything younger than that, 25 seems so debonair. Not to mention, very far away. I used to fantasize that by the time I reached my mid-twenties I would be highly educated, highly successful, and only then would I be ready to commit myself to another. But life had other plans for me and so I adapted. One summer night while at dinner the waiter presented me with a diamond ring when I was expecting creme brulee. It was then that my best friend and high-school sweetheart dropped to his knee and changed my life forever.

So I had caved. But in my defense, I couldn't resist him.

The wedding plans fell together piece by piece and I was rapidly checking things off my list one by one. Outside pressures mounted as he was struggling with the recent death of his mother while trying to keep his grades afloat, his family together, and his new fiance happy. I was entrenched with wedding plans, a ridiculous full load of school, and feet so cold at times I thought they would amputate themselves. Born a chronic worrier, I had created a cesspool of doubt in my head of everything that could go wrong. Would go wrong. But every time we were together, he managed to pull the plug on my convoluted fears replacing them with relentless optimism about our future together. I bought it. And like any good bride-to-be I continued checking things off my wedding to-do.

One of the big ticket items was of course the dreaded pre-marital doctor exam. I expected nothing short of a perfect combination off all the OB horror stories I'd ever heard at slumber parties since 5th grade. Regardless, I begrudgingly made the appointment with the doctor who coincidentally had delivered me from my mother's womb 21 years prior. After all, he was the first person to ever see me naked and screaming in this life, how fitting that he should have the honor yet again. I was almost disappointed when the examination went rather smoothly. Except for one minor hiccup.

"Can you tell me about your heart murmur?" Dr. B. asked.

The stupefied look that flashed upon my face must have given him the answer he was searching for. Cocking one eyebrow, he continued to move his stethoscope up and down my back instructing me when to breathe in and out, in and hold.

"Has anyone ever told you that you have a heart murmur?" He asked smoothly, trying very hard not to give away any sense of concern unnecessarily.

No, no one ever had. And then very matter-of-factly he suggested I have it checked out immediately, and by that, he meant before the wedding. I got dressed and met him again in his office where he reviewed the basics of the birds and the bees. You know, just in case the public school system and years of slumber parties had failed me. Indeed they had not. Again, he reassured me that the heart murmur was likely nothing to be overly concerned about.

Right. I took it as a literal sign. My heart was murmuring against me, against my decision to get married. I considered not telling Brad, then decided against that, fearing that if something were to go terribly wrong after the wedding he could sue me and demand a refund for having purchased damaged goods. Not an option.

As expected, Brad was customarily relaxed about the whole thing. If he was worried, he never let on. It's one of his best, or worst, qualities; staying even keeled especially when I expect the worst from him. He even made my cardiologist appointments for me and waited patiently in the lobby while I was poked and prodded and tested and monitored. The prognosis was clear, as far as heart murmurs were concerned I had the best possible combination. A leaky tricuspid valve that shouldn't interfere with my life or health or overall well being. However, in true form I internalized my skepticism.

I seemed more nervous for the ultra sound on my heart than I was for the EKG. Pre-wedding jitters I explained. Pre-heart attack jitters I thought. The technician doing the ultra sound could sense my nervousness and attempted to make friendly small talk. After only a few seconds we discovered that I went to high school with her younger brother and a few other random connections. It drew quiet again and I worried to myself. As she maneuvered the wand over my chest I could hear the steady lub dub, lub dub, lub dub of my heart beat. She took the time to explain that my heart beat was special and actually went la-lub dub, la-lub dub, la-lub dub. The variation was ever so slight and only a trained professional could even tell the difference. To keep me distracted, she began asking questions once more, this time inquiring about the shiny engagement ring on my left hand. Oh, right. That.

"What's his name?" she prodded, lightly fluctuating her voice higher at the end as if to insinuate I should begin blushing in three, two, one...

My mind flickered to Brad waiting patiently in the lobby, probably reading a bicycling magazine or chewing his fingers like he does when bored or anxious. He was bored, for sure, bored and waiting for me. And then it hit, he was waiting for me. The mere thought broadened my lips into a subtle grin. It was true, I really couldn't resist him.

"Brad. Brad Duncan," I stuttered proudly looking down at my ring, adjusting it back and forth from the underside with my thumb.

Just then the steady beat of the la-lub dub suddenly quickened and grew astonishingly louder and faster. I heard it. I even felt it in my chest. And much to my embarrassment, so did the technician. My heart was pounding. I looked away as if I hadn't noticed. But a smirk appeared on the lips of the technician and out of the corner of my eye I could tell she was on to me. As if to test her theory, she prodded further.

"How long have you known him, where did you meet?" She was speaking slightly louder than before as if it were necessary to talk above the increased sound of the beating.

"Since Kindergarten," I managed to eek out, hesitating before I divulged anything further. I was concentrating more on the sound of my heart beat which was growing faster and faster, louder and louder still, despite my smooth deep breaths. Keep talking I suggested to myself, finding it the only diversion available.

"We've been friends since way back then," I continued. "But we dated later in high school, I chased him rather, until eventually, we are." I keenly raised my left hand and waved my ring finger up and down as if catching her up with our entire love story only required one short sentence. I was smiling rather openly now. A joyful, happy smile. By this time my chest was heaving and I gasped a little for air. What was happening?

"Wow," she said in a daze still clutching the wand to my chest. The bewildered look on her face told me that either one of us was perhaps seconds from spontaneous combustion. I didn't take the bait. She pretended to concentrate on the monitor now. "Are you hearing what I'm hearing?" She was nearly shouting at me with enthusiasm. "This is totally great. You really are in love with him!" Right then I thought my heart might leap right out of my chest. I almost couldn't bear the humiliation. It wouldn't have taken a specialist to explain the situation, but she felt inclined to spell it out for me anyway.

"The second you said his name your heart rate nearly doubled. Look." She pointed to some random number blinking on the bottom of the screen. She was grinning so widely, you'd have thought she was the one on the table having her very raw emotions explained via sonogram to a complete stranger. I giggled unexpectedly but caught myself before it got out of hand. "Your heart is strong. Real strong. Just stick with him, and you'll be just fine" she suggested warmly acting more like cupid than doctor. Was this the proof I needed? Did this really mean that I loved him?

We were finished with the exam, and I could tell the technician was extremely pleased with herself, myself, and what had just happened. Before instructing me to get dressed and meet her in the lobby, she winked and asked if she might have a word with Brad. I shrugged in accord but caught a glimpse of my face in the mirror, brighter than the first sunburn of summer. I felt the embarrassment fluttering around in my stomach, but at least my heart rate was seemingly back to normal.

I found the two of them in the lobby chuckling together like old friends. I flushed again and we both kindly thanked her on our way out. A few months later Brad and I were married and I can say with all sincerity that it was the greatest day of my life. Brad takes great pleasure in knowing that my heart beats for him and rarely does he miss an opportunity to remind me of that. But today, I wanted to remind him.

Happy Valentine's to my lub dub.



Two Wheeler said...

I love it G. As I always say, you should go into writing.

Love you!

Lacy said...

That is one of the cutest stories I have ever heard (or read)! It made me tear up!

Tuttles said...

What a great love story Gina! I had no idea you and Brad had known each other that long! This could be made into 2009's romantic movie of the year. It seriously brightened my day. It totally gave me goose bumps. You are such an amazing writer. Happy Valentine's Day!

Rachel said...

You are such an awesome writer! I felt like I was there with you!!! I LOVE Lauren's idea of it being a movie....Happy Valentine's Day! Love you to death!

Ames and Jer-da-me said...

Wow! What a cute story...I bet you guys didn't know I read your blog. It is fun to read.

Side note...was your "yucky doctor" Dr. Bickler (sp?) Because I went to him for my first "yucky" exam and he found my heart murmur as well. My murmur goes lub-dub-dub. Ha Ha!

Hope all is well.


Alex Thomas said...
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Andy Thomas said...

I hate to be the one to have to say what we are all thinking... but here it is, I think you guys are cool again. We knew there would be some "cool withdrawal" when you gave it up cold turkey. Lets face it, cool is a hard habit to kick especially when you guys were in so deep. I just found out that being cool might even be genetic. Good luck, we are all behind you.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Andy and Alex

wjcr said...


Wildings said...

G, love the story it's so sweet! You seriously should go into writing, you're amazing! Happy Valentines, love ya!

The P*dunc's said...

ditto to Brad! I loved this!

McCleary Ways said...

Gina, please write a book!! Your amazing and I love your story too perfect!!

Phipps Family said...

So cute! I had Norm Neilson's sister (some girl related to him) do an EKG on my once. Kind of funny.

Phipps Family said...

So cute! I had Norm Neilson's sister (some girl related to him) do an EKG on my once. Kind of funny.

Heather said...

That was absolutely the most beautiful love story ever!! I am sure because you are such an amazing writer!! Very sweet, I loved reading this, you and Brad are so cute together!! :)

Marriott + Ali said...

too cute G...I had never heard this version of the story and I love it! You two are perfect for eachother!

gina bina said...

Ames, I forgot to answer your question...Yes! It was Dr. Bigler. Small world, eh? He must be like the pro at heart murmurs.

Phipps, this little world of mine is getting smaller by the minute because it WAS Norm's sister.

Natlee Lloyd said...

How cute! That is one of the best stories ever! Love you both lots:)

the farlanderz said...

how sweet is that little story! (not to mention you are quite the good story-teller)

Mandy said...

I admit, I was blog snooping. Um, and maybe it's just a severe case of crazy hormones, or maybe not, probley not, but I got a little choked up by your story. Such a blub, I am! You've got a talent girl, you've got a talent!

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