Jane Ballot

Being me in the world

Sunday 26th July

Loadshedding is a strange thing: at the same time that it is annoying and inconvenient, I find that it is also a wonderful excuse for doing things that we don’t otherwise seem to do, ‘cept maybe on holiday, like play Trivial Pursuit, or Cluedo. When we have 5 hours of loadshedding like we did tonight, we all gather in the sun room and play some kind of game.

Great family time, courtesy of Eskom.

I think that just about anything in life must be like that and have two sides. In church today, Chunky was talking about Freud’s idea of the superego and the Id and how we basically battle subconsciously to balance the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ to produce a version of ourselves that has the two sides in some kind of harmony.

Maybe everything is like that. Maybe we can find the good side or the bad side of anything if we just look – and depending, of course, on our state of mind etc at the time.

This cancer journey is definitely like that. At the same time that having to face the horrid enemy, it is also an unsolicited opportunity to look at life from a slightly altered position. And that is, often, (maybe not so) strangely life affirming.

The colleague from UFS gave me such a strong image the other night, which she, in turn, was taught when she faced cancer. Gesturing to a glass that was half-full of wine, she indicated that we can always either choose to focus on the bottom half, where there is something; or on the top half, where there is no longer anything. Her specific analogy was to a mastectomy and the aftermath, but also to the whole process of going through the cancer treatment.

It is such a powerful image.

Being an incurable optimist, I always, of course, see the glass has half full. Given this image, though, of what to choose to focus on, just adds to that. It is true that you can bemoan what you had and what you have lost. It is also true that we all need to be able to look at where we are and everything that life offers to us.

When you have lost someone close, it is so very much more difficult to focus on what you have, because the absence of that person is so obvious, the wounds so raw. Time does make it a little easier to digest the fact that the ‘still have’ section is, of course, filled with memories of the person. The empty part still looms, though.

I muss Mum all the time. Sometimes it is intensely, at others it is a dull ache. It never goes away and I don’t think it ever will. I still miss Dad so very much, although there has been a longer time for the ache to become less intense.

What remains from both of them, though, is the fullness of everything they ever were and ever gave me – gave all of us. The glass is more than full, it is brimming over and, sometimes, that part of the image causes the empty half to disappear for some moments. Just sometimes.

At those times, as with everything, I forget for a moment that there are always two sides to everything, good and bad and, for the brief time, everything is simply good.


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