Jane Ballot

Being me in the world

Tuesday 16th June

Today is Daynia’s birthday. It’s also Youth Day.

Two very different reasons to celebrate one day. Two almost opposite sets of emotions that surface on this day. Both a personal history and a national history that are important. Definitely not a day to forget.

There must be many days like this in the world – where there is both a personal importance and a political significance; or, at least, a private and then more public meaning to a particular day.

Days also change meaning, as things happen in the world. Before 2010, June 15th had not particular significance for me. Now it is the anniversary of Dad’s death. Until last year, May 22nd was just a day. Now it is the day Mum left us.

Similarly, for my whole life the 6th of October was my birthday – a day to celebrate and, usually, try to have some fun. Last year, it also became the day of the mastectomy. Whether that is an event to remember or not, is a matter of opinion, I suppose. It is certainly something I will never forget, although the birthday will, always, win in terms of the significance of the day.

I am already planning the party, which is what usually happens as the second part of the year approaches and October is upon us before we ever really realise it. Because of everything I never had a party last year, so this year is double celebration time J

A birthday is, of course, the best reason in the world to have a party. I find that it is also a great reason to catch up with some of my friends who I don’t see very often. There are one or two of my longstanding friends who know they will receive the phone call in about September, telling them that it is ‘that time of the year again’…

I wonder if we tend to map our lives without really thinking about it from ‘day of significance’ to ‘day of significance’ – doing real life in between: making sure that things happen as they must, but with our focus on the more significant dates.

I know that I am very aware that my birthday is actually just less than four months away. This is partly because I cannot actually believe that it is more than 8 months since the mastectomy – it feels so recent in some ways. Between now and then there is so much that I will have to do – and will choose to do. There is a huge amount of work that will be done. There are also some important deadlines that I will have met by then. There are also events that will happen. If I try to put everything that has to happen in those short 4 months into one thought, it seems overwhelming.

‘One thing at a time’, though, or ‘step-by-step’ and it seems so much more manageable.

I have not always been so good at taking things by stages, nor am I a particularly patient person. This cancer thing has, of course, taught me to be a little better at both.

One thing, even one little thing, that I have learnt, but one that is so valuable to be able to apply in many aspects of life.

From everything that happens to us we can take away something valuable.

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