Is it wonderful to be home? It’s wonderful to be with my family. But it feels more and more like a holiday than a trip home. If being with your parents is being home, then yes it is wonderful to be home, but what is home? Is it where you live? Is it where your heart is? Is it where your children are? Is it a feeling? Or is it just an idea? For me it’s all of these things. The first words when we arrived were, is it nice to be home? But as much as this is where I was born, where my parents are, where my brother and his family are and will always be a part of me, it’s not my home anymore. I have wonderful memories of my life here, of my childhood, of growing up, of making mistakes, of learning, of building myself and my career, of falling in love and starting and growing a family, of illness and wonder. All within the wonderful warm embrace of my loving family and caring friends. And that is all with me no matter where I am. But I am now so much a visitor here, four years is a very long time. I look for the familiar and find it and love it, because it makes me belong. But there is so much that is new, or rather that has just moved on, that I am not part of anymore. And that used to scare me but now it doesn’t. It just is. And that’s reassuring. That it doesn’t scare me anymore, I mean. I am always mindful of those I love who still live here, who would rather I said, yes this is still home. But I know that they would rather I embraced where I am and looked forward not backwards. I wrote before that I now know that we can be anywhere and this trip so far has confirmed that. This is so present, yet it feels like my past. And I don’t mean that I want to leave it behind because it is also still my present and always will be within me, but it’s not home. It’s a place I used to feel at home. But I don’t live here anymore.
Today was a big day. We sold our house over a year ago, yet we have continued to receive bills for water and lights, rates and taxes. Despite our best efforts and those of our conveyancing attorneys. Today I spent the morning at the Johannesburg municipal offices. I wish I could say I was grateful for the petty bureaucrats I had the misfortune to deal with. I wish I could say I was grateful for the wonderful attitude of what can we do to help I was met with. But I can’t. But I am grateful for the lady before me. She understandably let her frustration get the better of her. Grateful because I saw the effect it had. Grateful because that used to be me. The futility of it all. So today I am grateful I was able to calmly communicate my intention not to go anywhere until I had received some form of resolution. Which I did.
Lynn and I can chat and chat and chat. And chat. Over numerous glasses of wine and numerous cups of coffee. We can laugh, we can cry, we can advise, we can tease, we can lecture, we can listen. Nothing ever gets in the way, not even jet lag or a stiff neck or much needed sleep. I am very blessed and extremely grateful to have a sister-in-law who is always there, who truly gets me, who is so much like me, who cares enough to disagree with me, who cares enough to know what is needed, who is a friend but so much more. Today and always, I am grateful for Lynn, my other sister.
I had the worst day yesterday. I saw my oncologist, my breast cancer surgeon, my radiologist, my gynaecologist. I had a mammogram, an ultrasound, a bone density check, blood tests, a gynaecological internal and then some, I was examined, prodded and pricked from head to toe. I sat for three hours amongst all the new and existing chemo patients at the Donald Gordon, filled with compassion and a desire to tell them all it would be alright, even though for some it wouldn’t be and what they should know, and then filled with nausea at the smells and the memories, the tears and the fear. I sat in virtually the very same chair that I remember B said he saw the realisation of what had happened and was going to happen finally dawn on me. As I waited for my first taste of adriamycin, aka the red devil, the penny dropped and I nearly ran for my life. I would have if he hadn’t put a steadying hand on me. I sat there yesterday, overwhelmed by it all. I saw all these people sitting with their support teams, but you can immediately see who is in treatment, just by their eyes. It is a lonely journey. I wish everyone who is on it the inner strength to see it through and the ability to see the love that is around them. I had the worst day, but also the best day, because I felt different. I felt like an observer.
Today I am grateful I’m not a cab driver. Well, not our particular cab driver from this evening anyway. He waited in the queue of cabs for apparently more than an hour, to be lucky enough to score our lowly $10 fare, with two very very heavy bags. He was understandably grumpy. But not understandably rude. Very very rude. It was a very very uncomfortable cab ride. I am very grateful I was empathetic enough to understand and not react. Even though by then I was very very grumpy too.
I was grateful today for a momentary pause, love and a private smile, during my chaotic day. Chaotic due to my own procrastination and pure avoidance of the need to get organised for a month away. I was bending over to pick up the bank statements I had knocked off the table (because I’m now in a panic) for the tax stuff our tax guy has wanted for a while now, which meant today was the perfect day for it (when I should have been doing everything but) feeling under pressure and quite irritated, yes at myself, when I spotted this little note Jem had left for herself. It made me smile and stop. And breathe. And catch myself. I am very grateful for that little moment today but I am also grateful (and proud) that I was able to stop myself from ignoring the very firm instruction. Until she gets home, that is.
I am grateful that my world has changed so much that B now comes back from Sydney bearing a gift of an apron …. but the fact that it is a marimekko apron shows how little my world has changed. I am grateful that we share, always have and always will, a love for the aesthetic.