For the first four months of this gruelling six-month period, Dad’s health appeared to be stable. The treatment at the beginning of the year had thankfully slowed the growth of the tumour on his kidney. Unfortunately, however, a scan then revealed that the cancer had spread into his lymphatic system. When I asked a dear friend Kris what this meant, her response was, “it’s a highway to the rest of the body”. I’ve always loved her for her honesty. It was crushing. This cloud of uncertainty loomed above – how much time do we have left with Dad? Will he make it back home again to see the house finished? Will I finish the house before he dies? Will he die next month…next week…tomorrow?
The last two months were the hardest of the entire journey. Morale, motivation and energy were at an all time low and I was running off the smell of an oily rag at this stage. I was being held together by the drive to finish the house for Dad, so that we may see out the project together, just like we started it a few years prior. I had made all of the creative decisions required to finish the project by this stage and so pushed ahead on what was essentially autopilot. My body was now just a tool to get each job done.
During this madness, with a month and a half to go until the next fire season, a very good friend of mine, Josh (who also happened to be my supervisor on the fire crew), dropped around after work one evening to say hello. He arrived as dusk was falling and I was hastily packing up and cleaning all of my tiling equipment, while at the same time rushing about the garden planting native shrubs in the dark with a torch.
The man can hold a straight face, but I could see it in his eyes, he was definitely thinking, “this bloke is insane”. We had a yarn, I explained I was optimistic about the timeline, thinking that I’d just scrape it in. He mentioned that there was every possibility I could request to push my start date back, a thought I briefly entertained, but then stubbornly dismissed.
After a few days, with the timeline getting ever tighter and my anxiety levels ever higher, I decided that maybe it would be a good idea for me to delay my start date. I messaged Josh, who promptly responded, “good idea, I put the request through after we spoke anyway, it’s already been approved. If you want it, take it”. I felt this immediate rush of relief as if a weight had been lifted off my shoulders, then a moment of clarity as it coursed through my veins.