And so we returned. Back home. Back to normal life. Normal things. Normal duties. Dean still took a plethora of pills every morning, but he was alive. He felt good. We were out of the sterile concrete high rise of imprisonment. The life was returning to his cheeks. The smile to his eyes. He hit the ground running as he always did. Straight back to work. Back to projects. Cleaning out the garage. All the usual things that he did that drove me crazy. And it was delightful. Dean became himself again. He went from bed ridden patient to bossy husband overnight. We were living on the farm at this point. 300 acres owned by Dean’s uncle. Everything about it soothed me. The cows. The endless horizon. The red gravel driveway. The drafty old farmhouse with uneven wood floors. The old broken down treehouse. It was so beautifully rugged and imperfect. I adored it. I don’t know the last time the outside of it had been painted. There was the odd snake here and there. But it was freedom to us. You could hear dozens of different bird songs. It was home. The boys ran free out the back. Squealing and hollering with joyful contentment. And no one within earshot to protest in annoyance. We had space here. Time and space. Time and space gift wrapped in an old farm house on a platform of red gravel and kikuyu. And time and space was just what we needed. Time to heal. Space between us and the awful memories. The brush with death that was more like a belly flop onto the side walk.
The emotions started to come. In a trickle at first. Then stronger. I had been so brave for so long. Soldiering on. Adrenaline of the battle fueling me for each days tasks and demands. And as the smoke cleared, and the shock wore off, my emotions started to catch up. I would be doing something like beating the batter for banana bread. Boys in the living room watching TV. Dean working on a project somewhere. And the tears would come. Suddenly. Forcefully. Whisking me away in a torrent of white water. Fighting the strength of it’s current, I would struggle to surface for air. And I would gasp just before being pulled under again in a flood of suppressed emotion.
Everything was fine. The clouds had parted. The storm had passed. But trying to return to normal. After everything. There was no going back. Only forward. And now we were different. We’d seen things. Experienced things. Had conversations… We were changed. Dean had this incredible ability to bounce back. Get stuck into it. His tough Aussie attitude astounded me. It was harder for me. I processed things slower. I felt more. Going back to submissive wife after I had taken the reins of the family. That was hard. And we experienced bumps as the pecking order was restored.
As the months went on the tensions eased. The torrents of emotion began to subside. And it seemed as though the sun might continue to shine forever. We did camping trips. Dean returned to full time work. The boys had their birthdays, turning 2 and 3 years old.
10 months later we were sitting in the doctor’s office. Dean was having some pain again. They did some blood work. We could hear Dr. Howarth on the phone.
“15! He’s got a platelet count of 15?! He’s operating a bloody tile saw with a platelet count of 15.” He looked at Dean and shook his head. Hung up the phone.
He looked over his glasses at us.
“You’re going to Perth mate.”
The invisible beast. It was back.