Jane Ballot

Being me in the world

Monday 4th May

The day Mum died is creeping closer and closer. With it the ‘year of firsts’ will be over, which is supposed to be the worst time after losing someone. I don’t know that any time will be worse, because it’s all just horrible.

I do know, after losing Dad, that the sharpness of the grief does dull over time and that there is a greater sense of it all being real and moving on without the person. It just still feels like too much too soon.

Paul asked me if I’d seen what they’re doing to 55. I haven’t driven by there for ages, but I do know that there is a lot of work going on with the house. He says there is no longer a roof on it. My immediate reaction is that I hope it doesn’t rain and ruin the parquet flooring. Then, of course, I have to think that perhaps the flooring has been taken up too. It is, after all, the new owner’s house to do with as he wishes.

I will go back there to visit if he does, indeed, invite us when it is all finished being done up. I am also quite fine if I never go back there again, though. For me, the trauma was the actual handing over, the literal letting go and, thanks to the new owner being lovely, that was something I could deal with.

A house is, I suppose, after all only a house. We inhabit them and invest them with life and soul. When the person has gone, though, I suppose it is a time for a general moving on, including the house in many ways.

There are some things I really would like to move on from completely, most pressing of which is the chemo taste. I had it the whole day yesterday. It’s even more than a taste, though, it feels as though my whole mouth is coated with something that tastes really horrible and that makes a lot of other things taste horrible, too. Strangely, I didn’t have the taste at SA Schools. I am more and more convinced that there are certain things I eat that bring it on. I just have to work out what to avoid.

If only we could do that with cancer – in fact, with a whole lot of things. Imagine if we knew exactly that, for that person, those things will lead to those conditions if they are eaten and they can simply be avoided.

There is a lot written about different carcinogens. I am definitely more aware of some things I used to ingest and try to avoid now. There is not a direct cause-and-effect that can be proven, though, nor is there one that can be observed, so it makes it all a little difficult and about guess work and faith in what ‘they’ say sometimes.

So much of this seems to be a balancing act between what you should do, what is good for you and what you need to do to look after yourself and to not, actually, cause harm.

Generally, I try to eat healthily and to do the things that are supposed to be good for one. I am very conscious of doing exercise – because I don’t want to get any fatter than I am already and because everybody says regular exercise is good for you. Then, of course, there is the thing about my knees: I am not completely convinced that running doesn’t affect them in some way. While I run regularly and am slowly (seems to be very slowly at times) getting fitter, I am also wondering that my knees may be getting worse. Where does the balance lie?

I suppose that everything is about the doing and the weighing up the effects as they happen. We can’t always predict how something we do will affect some part of us. We don’t always know that there is a direct correlation between the ‘now’ and what will be the ‘then’.

It’s about moderation and coping in the moment. So, I run as much as I am able at the moment and build it up as I go. I am aware of the pain in my knees and try not to overdo it.

The balancing act may not be perfect, but it is, at least, a way of trying to make sure the outcome is the best all round.


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