As the stand mixer whirled and tossed the ball of dough into the correct consistency, Ruby got the rolling pin out of the drawer and splashed olive oil over the countertop.
“I’m looking forward to my last supper,” she said loudly over the mixer’s motor.
Amber shook her and grinned as she turned off the mixer. “That sounds like you are about to die and not just have wisdom teeth removal surgery. This isn’t your last supper. Besides, the rest of us would gladly trade our supper for a couple of the milkshakes you’re going to get.”
“Even if surgery was also part of the bargain?” Ruby oiled her fingers before picking up the airy ball of dough and plopping it onto the greased counter.
“Hmm.” Amber cocked her head to the side. “I’d have to think about it. Milkshakes are worth a lot of sacrifices.”
They both laughed, though Ruby rolled her eyes at her sister.
Mom was spooning cookie dough onto a baking sheet and had been quietly listening to their conversation. “If you’re that desperate for a milkshake, Amber, I’m sure we could arrange for it to happen without the trauma and expense of surgery,” she said dryly. This made both girls laugh again. Mom put the cookie tray in the toaster oven and left the kitchen, asking the girls to keep on an eye on it for her.
Rolling pin in hand, Ruby began to flatten the dough. It grew thin and then scrunched back in on itself, then thinned out in another direction as she pushed against it. Back and forth, over and over, until the crust was as flat and round as she could make it.
“Now comes the fun part,” she told Amber, as she prepared to lift the crust onto the pizza pan. No matter how many times she did that task, she still did not enjoy it. She’d made holes in the dough or landed it very crookedly on the pan too many times to get comfortable with it.
This time, the dough sailed squarely into the pan, and she only had two tiny holes to pinch back together with her fingers.
“There.” She breathed a sigh of relief. “If only tomorrow would go that smoothly and that much better than I’m afraid.”
Amy stirred Italian seasoning into a jar of tomato sauce. “What are you afraid of?” Her friendly banter was replaced by genuine sympathy. “The pain?”
Ruby chuckled halfheartedly. “Actually, no, though I’m sure that’s probably the normal thing to be afraid of. I know it will hurt, but I’ll live through that.”
“Then what are you afraid of?”
“Other things. It’s silly of me, I know.” Ruby blushed and focused on the next ball of dough she was rolling.
“It’s not silly. Maybe if you talk about it, it would help you feel better.” Amber turned the oven on to preheat then took a seat on a stool at the counter to wait.
“I’ve always been scared of having surgery. What if I don’t wake up?” Ruby blurted.
Amber stopped swiveling the stool and propped her elbows on the counter. “I don’t think that’s very likely. We’ve known lots of people who had surgery, and that never happened to any of them.”
“I know. And it sounds silly now that I say it. I knew it would.”
“I don’t think it’s silly,” Amber insisted. “Is that all you’re afraid of?”
“No, but the other thing is even more ridiculous.”
“Then you have to tell me now. You can’t leave me hanging like that.” A subtle smirk erased Amber’s serious expression.
Ruby, concentrating on placing the next doughy crust in a pan, did not answer until it was safely deposited.
“Very funny. Maybe I just won’t tell you now then.” Ruby went to the kitchen sink to wash her hands. Even their conversation couldn’t prevent her from noticing the green leaves nodding and twirling right outside the window. How she was enjoying spring – except for what was coming tomorrow.
“Fine, then.” Amber went back to spinning, apparently taking no notice of Ruby.
Ruby put the two pizza pans in the oven, took the cookies out of the toaster oven, and then perched on the bar stool next to Amber’s. “Okay, I’ll tell. I know you want to know no matter how much you pretend you don’t.”
“And I know you want to tell no matter how much you pretend you don’t,” Amber shot back. They both grinned at each other. An outsider might have thought they had been upset, but they both knew that was far from the truth.
“Don’t laugh when I tell you,” Ruby begged. As she might have expected, this put Amber on the verge of laughter before she had even spoken a word. Ruby did laugh, then Amber joined in. When they both stopped, Ruby tried again.
“I’m nervous that I’m going to say or do something really dumb while I’m coming out of the anesthesia. I know I don’t have any control over it, but it still worries me.”
“Even though you enjoyed laughing over the things Jasper said and teasing him about them?”
Ruby hid her face behind her hands and grinned sheepishly. “I know. That’s probably why I’m worried about it. And I know it’s not consistent.”
“Why are you afraid of it when you don’t even think you will wake up?” Amber asked pointedly.
“I don’t know. Fears don’t have to make sense do they?”
“No.” Amber agreed.
Ruby threw her red ponytail over her shoulder. “Just for listening and letting me talk. When fears are stuck in your head they seem a lot scarier, but sometimes saying them out loud makes them not look so big, and some of them even look pretty silly.”
“Time to put the pizza toppings on?” Mica walked over to the bar.
The pizza crusts were close enough to being done for them to get out the rest of the toppings, and this was the end of their heart-to-heart. The next couple of hours were filled with the enjoyment of decorating pizzas according to their preferences and the even more pleasant task of eating their creations.
It wasn’t until Ruby was getting ready for bed that their conversation played through her mind again, her fears resurfacing with it. She sat on the edge of her bed and picked up her Bible from the nightstand. She was flipping through the pages when she came to a bookmark with a verse on it.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Ruby had been trying to encourage herself by focusing on how happy she would be once everything was finished. No longer would she be scared. It suddenly hit her that faith is able to be at peace ahead of time, not waiting until it sees the outcome. Ruby knelt beside her bed and freely told the Lord her worries about tomorrow.
Just as it had comforted her to tell Amber her fears earlier, so she found peace now, but it was different. Not only did she have the relief of sharing her fears with someone else, but she was also telling the One Who knew what was going to happen tomorrow and was in control of it.
It still took Ruby a while to relax enough to drop off to sleep. Her worries continued to resurface, and she had to choose to put them aside and, by faith, trust that everything would work out for the best no matter what happened.
* * * * *
Ruby was up early the next morning – tired from not getting enough sleep, but also wired by adrenaline. She was unbothered by the fact she wasn’t allowed to eat breakfast, since she wasn’t the least bit hungry. But a drink of water would have been nice.
Mom drove her to the appointment, and Amber rode along for moral support. Before they went in, Mom prayed for Ruby to have peace and for everything to go smoothly. They all headed into the waiting room. Ruby and her mom went to the window to check in, then joined Amber who had already found a seat.
Ruby fidgeted, wanting her name to be called so she could get it over with, not wanting her name to be called because then it would be happening. Mom laid a hand on Ruby’s knee.
“It’s going to be okay,” she said softly.
Ruby nodded. Before she could say anything, a door opened and a lady in blue scrubs called, “Ruby Randall.”
Getting to her feet, Ruby took a deep breath. This was it.
* * * * *
The rest of that day was a blur. A blur of anxiety, sleepiness, pain, and more sleepiness. It wasn’t until the next day that Ruby started to feel like herself. As she ate a milkshake, she talked to Amber, who sat beside the recliner in the living room where she was resting.
“Well, how was it compared to how you were expecting?”
Ruby would have smiled except for the discomfort that would undoubtedly cause. “Let’s just say I was nervous about the wrong things. I think. I never did ask if I said anything crazy. Did I?”
“Nope. You weren’t even funny. Just sleepy and a tiny bit grouchy.” Amber grinned at her sister.
“Well, that’s good, I guess? Anyway, the one thing I never considered was waking up before they were finished in my mouth. That was not a fun experience. They didn’t know I was awake though.”
“Ugh.” Amber grimaced.
“Yeah, I would have been dreading that if I’d thought of it. Seems like the things that happen are often things we never even think of rather than the things we’re worrying about.”
“True. I for one would rather say goofy things than be awake during a surgery.”
Ruby choked back a smile. “Me too. Not something we have much choice over since worrying about it ahead of time doesn’t help.”
After repositioning her blanket over her lap, Ruby took another bite of milkshake. The relief of having everything over was just as good as she had anticipated.
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How can we show faith and trust God before we actually see how He is going to work and what the outcome will be? What do you like to do when you are nervous to help you relax?