Jane Ballot

Being me in the world

Thursday 25th December

I was reminded today that everything changes, yet nothing does.

When we have Christmas at Sedgefield (as opposed to East London, every second year), the whole family comes to lunch at our house. This was, of course, always Mum and Dad’s house, so the whole family would logically gather  here. Now that they are both gone, I suppose we could have gone to any of the three houses. We decided to keep to tradition, though, and Noel and Daynia and their families came to us. All 19 of us sat under the trees as we have on so many other Christmas Days and had the usual fare.


One of the things that gets us through so many horrible things.

Today could have been really terrible, without Mum. It was hard, but also so familiar that it really felt normal in many ways. How the family operates and what we do is so much a part of who Mum was and how she and Dad established traditions like the Christmas one, that we naturally fall into rhythms that make us feel whole.

I almost didn’t miss Mum today, because I truly expected her to be just there – in the next room, round the next corner like in the poem.

Mum. So central to everything we have always done. She is always here. Always just out of sight.

Today is also a week after chemo.

I’d decided to give myself at least a week to try to not fight against the side effects and to give my body a really good chance to get better.

I can truly say that I have mostly let myself sleep as long as I have needed and not really overdone things, especially in terms of exercise. I have felt not quite like myself, because ‘normally’ I would be running 3/4 ks a day and cycling everywhere etc etc, but I am kind of mostly getting over feeling like a wus. (Mostly…) 😉

I honestly don’t know that the side effects are any better for all the ‘listening to the body’ and taking advantage of being in Sedge and really relaxing. My digestive system is definitely more affected than it has been before; my mouth is playing up now; I get very tired and can’t even cycle 5 ks slowly without feeling exhausted (but I still do it!). I am very aware of not getting too cold or anything, so that there is no chance of me getting an infection.

I am still me, though – popping down to the Swartvlei for a swim before church this morning; running around most of the day; going for a paddle / swim after lunch, rather than snoozing; and then going to the beach to play soccer with the kids and the cousins in the (light) rain.

I literally do not know how to keep still 😉  Yet I know that I am not on the go as much as I would be if I was not having chemo. I can feel the effects of the drugs. I don’t like this, but I can do it.

From the beginning of the cancer thing, I have said that this is doable. And it continues to be so. Parts of it are really kak. I paddled 3 kms the other day and my muscles were sore.

It will get better, though.

So much is different. So much has changed. I am permanently physically changed. Disfigured in a way. I have no hair and it looks as though it may grow back white. No idea, though, as this will still take weeks and weeks – after the next chemo.

Nothing inside has actually changed, though. I am still as much me as always. I am Mum and Dad’s daughter; the sister my siblings despair of slightly sometimes, I think; the aunt who will (attempt to) challenge my 20-year-old nephew for the soccer ball; and the mother who will defend her children to the death if necessary.

What’s the difference?

As much as things change, everything eventually remains just the same.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *