On the Sunday before I went into hospital, Cheeseboy visited. It was our last catch-up before surgery, and though neither of us said anything, there was something symbolic in it. It was moral support and mateship and a last farewell, not knowing how things would turn out.

It was a lovely, mild day. We bought a coffee and set out walking along the foreshore. There were a lot of people out enjoying the sunshine. We ran into a couple coming the other way we’d met a few nights before – the couple who’d thought us brothers. There were others, like us, drinking coffee, and a few who’d picked up a takeaway cocktail in a plastic cup.

It’s a pretty walk, and as we went along, we talked of all the normal things, interspersed with odd laughter. I guess we were out about 45 minutes and it was lovely.

I can barely walk 20 paces now without needing a rest, so such casual activity seems novel. I can’t wait to the day I can do it again.

I’m reminded also of the occasion I lay in bed with all the doctors working on me. I knew it was serious, but fear seemed a distant thing. What good would it do me? And so I found myself concentrating on the essentials to get through.

There was a stray thought that crossed my mind, however. I thought of Cheeseboy. I thought of all he’s gone through lately and all the support he’s given me, and I thought, I can’t let him down by dying. It lacked grace. And I thought of Rigby. I didn’t want to go without seeing him again. That was enough.

I made it through, and probably always was – though I feel now that I know how you die and don’t want it.

It’s a bit over a week since then and I’m home now. I feel very weak and frail. I’m sure I’m still losing weight, though I’m ploughing the food into me. I’m steadier on my feet but feel light-headed quite commonly. That may be slightly better today, but there’s no denying the breathlessness simple activities induce. Even typing this tires me, including my arm.

I once boasted I had biceps like melons. Today, they’re like lemons, and I have chicken legs now as well. Patience, time, and constant feeding should address that, though it might be weeks until I turn the corner.

It feels so very strange to be so weak. You never cease to learn.

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