My head has rolled back slightly, supported by the chair’s frame. I’m trying, through closed lids, to determine if the sparkles I can see are black or red. I think it’s both and for a moment I’m left wondering how it’s possible to see two colours in the same place at the same time.  Far in the distance a truck is reversing and I can hear the beep, beep, beep of its warning signal. Closer a grey loerie calls to his flock and a pair of mynah birds squabble. The sun, already cooler than just a few weeks ago warms the back of my neck through my shirt. A dog shoves its cold snoot into my palm, looking for attention.

“Remember, Josh…” I begin.

“There are no heroes with  this cancer.” He finishes, quoting our palliative care doctor. The doctor is firm on this point. There are, she says, no points for “pushing through” with cancer.

It’s been a difficult day. Yesterday Josh visited the oncologist who was upbeat and showed as many signs of optimism as oncologists allow themselves. Josh felt well enough to walk to a class instead of using a wheelchair. Today, that seemingly trivial use of energy, has caught up with him. He is man-down. It’s 2pm and he’s just made it out of bed and as far as the garden.

We are sitting in a pair of canvas chairs facing the vegetable garden and discussing the possibility of Josh not writing June exams. I look up and see his eyes shine with hidden tears as he tells me how frustrated he is.

“My mental energy is ten out of ten but physically I’m only a five. ” My heart shatters all over again. I look away, fighting my own tears, and watch a pair of Hadedas noodle the carrot beds, looking for grubs. A bulbul calls to his mate from the phone line above the passion fruit vine.

“This is nice, isn’t it?” Josh says after a moment. “I love this garden. It’s peaceful.”

“Me too.”

We lapse into silence listening to the birds, watching the dogs loll of the lawn, sipping our tea.

The vegetable garden has been many things: a labour of love, a meditation, a challenge, a source of food, work, a source of pride. Right now? It’s our sanctuary.

  a sanctuary for wookiee  the veggie patch is a sanctuary