For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock. Psalm 27:5
Dean and I came back to Esperance and to the farm. Days after we arrived, a longtime friend of Dean’s contacted us about a house. Johnny Daunt.
We arranged to meet him at his beautiful four bedroom home he was intending on renting out. We went inside for a cuppa. The kitchen’s window displayed the glory of West Beach and her islands. You could hear the waves in their applause of the shore. The house was red brick. Spacious. But cozy. Lots of warm dark colors and then big windows quenching the rooms’ thirst for light. I was a bit distracted looking around so I almost wasn’t paying attention to the conversation.
John’s Australian accent was particularly thick. His demeanor, casual. Kind. Very “no worries.” He was a surfer. A builder by trade. Living on his own. “Yeah, I think, ya know, if you guys want the place then you can have it. It’s too much room for me and I don’t really need to rent it out. So, yeah.”
Dean reacted, “Are you serious, mate? Ah gosh, yeah, that’d be awesome!” His face was alight. He looked at me. “Whad’ya think, sweetie?”
I was trying to figure out what was going on. Wait…is he saying we can live here? Is he saying we can like…move in? And we don’t have to pay rent?
I nodded my head pretending like I understood what was going on.
When Dean and I got in the car, I attempted to clarify.
Dean, emphatically, “Sweetie, he’s letting us live there rent free.”
He looked at me with those glowing blue eyes. Sometimes they shined like the blue licks of a flame. It was so refreshing to see him excited about something.
“Wow, babe. That’s. That’s amazing…” I trailed off.
I paused. I was amazed by the outpouring of generosity of which we were regular benefactors. I looked out the car window. I loved the farm. It was home to me. I loved the paddocks. The space. The earthiness. The fact that we were out of town. It felt free to me. I pondered. Dean is so excited about this though. And, I mean, it’s free. How could we turn it down? Why would we want to?
I’ll miss the farm.
I looked out at our future view. His eyes pleaded at me for the green light.
I grabbed his hand. “Yeah, babe. Let’s do it.”
“Ah sweetie!” He started up the car. Blessed. Wow. A new place. A high place.
Dean was trying to work a bit. He was dealing with many different ailments. His mouth. His feet. Pain in certain joints. He struggled to put on weight. Most days he would spend laying on the couch staring out the window at the ocean. I wanted to reach him. I didn’t know how. And so I stuck to the things that I did know how to do. I cooked for him. I did his washing. I tried to keep the house tidy. I looked after the boys. Those things were all tangible. I could check them off a list.
The steroids he was on made him so amped and irritable. On eggshells, I would go about my day, fearing his outbursts. Trying to make everything perfect. Do everything right so as not to trigger an episode. I always seemed to do something though. I didn’t know how to make it better. It was the medication. I knew he didn’t want to be that way. What was the solution? Where was the ray of hope? I would fantasize about jumping on the back of a horse and riding away. Into the horizon. I combated the overwhelming urge by picturing myself nailing my feet to the ground. Stay, Cassi. Stay.
He became more isolated. Talked to people less. His anger worsened, emanating from him like a thick vapor. No matter where I was in the house, I could feel it. Mealtimes mainly consisted of Dean waiting for one of the boys to forget their manners and then erupt in anger. I would sit silently while my stomach ate away at itself. Shoveling food in my mouth. Hoping it would slow the growth of the anxiety threatening to engulf and strangle me. Everyone on edge. We ate in strained, fearful, angry silence. I fought back tears that threatened to garner attention. All the time and love poured into preparing a meal which was joyless and traumatizing.
I didn’t have paddocks or fields to wonder across for introspection. Like at the farm. The ocean became my open space hiding place. Where I took my tears. The aches of my heart. My fears. Prayers. Doubts. Wonderings.
And so I ran away from home.
Into the arms of God. Where I could wilt into His embrace. Where I would run to Him and He would carry me. Where I would vent to Him and He would listen to me. Where we asked each other the tough questions.
There in the sand I would lay them down. My heavy heart burdens. Adding salt and water to the ocean. Tears I would bring. My offering to God. Who pools together the collective suffering of us all. Creating a Sea. Where suffering becomes beauty. And pain becomes grace.
My internal struggle continued as Dean’s overall condition continued to worsen.
Lord, is this my life? Is this what my life is going to be? Caring for an angry man? Married to a man that can’t be a husband in almost anyway? Who is always sick and never gets better? It was the yo-yo that became unbearable. Almost dying. But then lives. Almost better. But then gets sick again. Going to the very edge each time.
That was the worst part.