Chapter 1: The Nurse and the Wife

“Man can never be a woman’s equal in the spirit of selfless service with which nature has endowed her.”

Mahatma Gandhi
Together Again

The hairpin came up scarily fast down that long steep descent. I was already slowing. Some car or truck had not been so careful. The road-sign at the apex, warning of the danger, was bent comedically in half.

Then I saw him.

Well actually, I saw the magenta Lycra through the long, lush grass. There was a body and a bike, silently tangled at the sign’s base.

Nursing training, the ICU bit, kicked in. His mouth was smashed, pouring blood, his helmet torn away and his ear hanging off.

“ABC,” I whispered to myself.

I knelt over his crumpled features and carefully lifted both corners of his bearded-jaw with my finger tips. Parts of his face moved in opposite directions at the same time. Something was snapped in the middle.

We held our breath together.

I dripped sweat and he drooled bloodily into the cool grass.

Suddenly, a huge gasp.

His fixed, blank pupils, awoke and narrowed in the dappled sunlight.

He struggled against my hands and I gripped his head, steady on his shoulders.

It seemed an age before the ambos arrived. I told them what I knew and what I had done. I watched them cut his clothes off and put a needle in his arm.

My gloves were soaked in blood so I stashed them in the back of my jersey. My husband would be miles ahead by now.

He had never beaten me in a race before.

I’d never hear the last of it.

Louise’s garden looked almost perfect. Just a couple more hours of pruning and trimming and it would be wine o’clock.

It was warm and quiet.

My phone rang.

“There was a sticker with a mobile number on his bike frame”, the breathless caller explained. “Are you his wife?”

“He’s awake. Ambos reckon ‘broken ribs’ and ‘maybe a wrist’.”

I thanked the chap for his trouble.

Ever practical, I called Dean, the surgeon that Bruce worked with, just to let him know.

“I’ll call the hospital, check out what the idiot has done now,” he chuckled.

I’m a very practical and organised wife, but not medical at all. I realised that Bruce wouldn’t anaesthetise for a day or two. I wasn’t even sure that he would be allowed to fly back from Melbourne.

Dean rang back 20 minutes later.

He had never rung me before.

“Neck”, “brain”, “jaw” and “smashed” were the highlights I think.

“Can he move his legs?”

“Will he be able to walk?”

Dean never really answered my questions.

I wept on the inside. There would be no sobbing, not yet. It was a four hour flight to Melbourne, early the next morning. I played Mum, brave and reassuring, just for Josh’s sake. He was only 16 and sat silently next to me on the plane, watching reruns of Family Guy.

Tom was older.

He stayed behind.

He could come in a few days once we were organised.

Someone had to feed the doggie.

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