As injured jockey Bev Buckingham-King lay immobile in a hospital bed in Melbourne yesterday, her husband Jason King sat quietly in a work room at their Latrobe home surrounded by her racing gear.
Her racing silks, saddles, girths and surcingles still filled the shelves, and by his feet was the suitcase that she took to Hobart that race day, yet to be unpacked.
``That's something that has to be done, but I haven't been able to bring myself to do it yet,'' he said.
Jason, 25, and Bev, 33, have been married for 13 months, but have been together for four years. They live with Bev's parents, Ted and Joan, on their Latrobe training establishment, Brigadoon.
``I had nothing to do with horses until I met Bev,'' Jason said. ``I worked in a board mill and then one day Ted said to me, why didn't I join them here as his strapper and stable hand?''
Jason said that he and Bev had an extraordinarily close relationship with her parents.
``We live and work together, that's why we're so close ... and (Bev's accident) has brought us closer.''
Ted came home last night and he and Jason will run Brigadoon together until Jason returns to Melbourne later this week.
Jason said that they were keeping the establishment running because it had always been Bev's future.
``We've got 22 horses on the property but we turned a couple of our own out to give us a bit of time,'' he said.
``When you take Bev away, it's like taking a link out of the chain. Bev was Ted's right hand, so he's lost without her.
``She reckoned she was going to keep riding until she was 40, but it wasn't to be.
``But she always said she wanted to train when she retired, and as soon as she's well enough, she'll take it over and boss us all around again!''
Jason said that the work helped him maintain some normality in life, but also reminded him of Bev.
``We get up at 6 every morning and take them to the track and do the boxes -- it's routine.
``But wherever you look, you see Bev ... and I haven't been sleeping very well.
``It was last Friday night that I last slept next to her, and I don't know when we will next share a bed.''
Jason was playing football on the North-West Coast at the time of the accident that has left his wife quadriplegic.
``When Bev has a fall, she usually gets back up and rides again, so when they told me that she wasn't riding again that day, I knew it was serious,'' he said.
Bev was taken to the Royal Hobart Hospital for emergency surgery and is now in intensive care at Melbourne's Austin Hospital.
Bev's mother and friend Kim Dixon are by her bedside, but Jason said that she was drifting in and out of consciousness.
``As soon as we walk in, she looks up and smiles,'' he said.
``She knows that we're there but she has a tube in her throat and they have to keep her sedated all the time. She can't respond and it's frustrating her terribly.
``That's the hard thing -- you can't sit and have a conversation with her. We virtually have to lip-read or she can nod or blink to communicate.
``I just want to hear her voice again _ that's all I'm waiting for. It's so quiet and lonely without her.
``Even if she never walks again, I just want to be able to talk to her again.''
Bev has movement from her shoulders to her wrists, but cannot move her fingers or legs.
``The frustrating thing for us is that you never see Bev down and out, so to see her so defenceless breaks your heart,'' Jason said.
``But time is something we've got plenty of, and we'll nurse her back to health.''
Jason said that Bev's room was decorated with faxes, and she had received hundreds of cards and letters from Australia and overseas.
The Devonport Racing Club will have a well-wishers book available for signing at the Spreyton races today, and the Beverley Buckingham-King Fund-raising Trust will be officially launched at Elwick at noon on Wednesday.