Jane Ballot

Being me in the world

Tuesday 11th August

Last night, I was standing in the kitchen preparing supper missing Mum terribly, when David came in and just gave me an enormous hug. I thought that it was if he just knew. A little later, he told us how much he misses her, especially as he is doing a block in obstetrics at the moment. So, not only did he know, he was feeling the same way.

I wonder if there is a way that our souls know what another close to us is feeling and just get in tune with each other.

Dave describes how everything feels hollow without Gran. That is such an accurate description. It’s horrible to lose anyone, especially someone close to you. When that person is someone like Mum, who was so integral to each of us, who we are and what we do, I think it is possibly even worse. There is that feeling of hollowness that pervades.

I am doing a play at the moment and I dearly want to tell Mum about it. Everything I’ve done in Drama (in everything, actually), I’ve always shared with her. I’m still convinced she didn’t always understand the artistic impetus, or really take on board some of the more in-depth theories I touched on in my essays over the years, but she dutifully heard every one and listened to discussions and descriptions of scenes, plays and characters – as well as the moans about delinquent kids when it came to showing commitment!

There is, indeed, a hollowness that can never be filled.

Another huge gap that Mum leaves for me is that of my private medical advisor. We had a rather hectic physical weekend at the farm, as usual. Between bracing myself to make sure I didn’t go straight over my horse’s neck when it stopped abruptly during a mad trot (riding at Golden Gate), hauling myself up sheer vertical slopes (or so it seemed), playing a bit of tennis and wrenching my arms when I slipped on the ice and grabbed the girls’ hands to avoid getting cold and wet, it seems as though the muscles in my right side – actually both my sides – have taken a little strain. I can feel that the ‘lump’ under my arm is more prominent. I don’t know if this is swelling, is normal, or is something to be concerned about. I’m absolutely sure it’s not bad. I would just like to be able to ask someone. Mum would have been that person, of course. Even if she hadn’t known the answer, she would have pointed me in the right direction.

Right now, I don’t actually know which professional to ask. There is no reason that a someone not familiar with breast cancer surgery will know the answer. The surgeon seems so removed, though, as it is his role to do the operation and then to hand the patient over to the oncologist. I will see him next month, so maybe I just have to wait till then.

It would just be nice to have my own advisor on tap.

There’s a song in Les Miserables that says, “There’s a grief that can’t be spoken; There’s a pain goes on and on”. We can all add to that and say something like, “There’s a gap that can never be filled; There’s a hollowness to all we do.”

We all miss Mum so much.

And yet, we go about doing what we do with the normal vigour, the normal interest and the normal competencies.

She would have it no other way.

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