The call came through on my mobile, as I stood at the delicatessen. Side by side with my youngest daughter and her friend. They wanted to make cheesecake and needed ricotta and cream.

My eldest daughter sounded urgent.

‘Dad’s had a heart attack, you must come at once.’

Times like this, your mind runs in a blur. There is action to take and no time for thinking. No time for planning. No time for looking ahead into what might happen, or into the past, to what was. The time calls for action.

I was in the hospital within thirty minutes.

My husband survived. They put in a pacemaker. That night he called me at one o’clock in the morning in a panic because his heart was racing. 

‘This thing is all wrong. I want them to take it out and start again.’ 

My husband knows when something is not right. He is a craftsman with an eye for detail. They took him back into surgery and slowed the pacemaker down. He came home a week later. A slowed man, a quieter man, which is when the two Swiss boys arrived.

We could not tell them to stay away. They were seventeen years old and had planned this trip for months. They began to plan when our seventeen-year-old middle daughter completed an exchange in France and met them there. 

They had always wanted to visit Australia.

‘Come and stay with my family,’ she said. and come they did. Christmas time and her father post heart attack but still we celebrated

The pleasure in their faces when they dragged out their gift to us: a huge basket full of Swiss chocolates. Blocks and bags, bars in all varieties. Soft centred, hard nuts, chopped nuts, almonds, hazelnuts, dark and light. Nougat filled, mint filled and praline. I have never seen so much chocolate in one collection outside of a shop. We made it last. 

We made it last too long to the point, years later, some of the bars, which I had secreted away in a cupboard in my bedroom had gone stale and white, inedible. They needed to be tossed. 

But the Swiss boys whom we have not seen since the school year resumed and they flew back home, remain in my mind. A reminder of my husband’s heart attack and how you can survive – sometimes – even the worst afflictions.