Food For The Soul

It has been a lifetime since I sat down to write. Writing comes from the soul and the last year or so has been a rollercoaster of events and emotion, of most of which I don’t care to dwell but, they are the tapestry that shaped today. So now to stride forward and begin afresh...

Like most expats, my husband and I left our home country for a pre-determined period, ours being a 3 year post but, now creeping into our 19th year, we never returned ‘home’. Our children were born in different countries to each other and moving as babies each child only knows their birth country by name and not culture. Perhaps when they are older they will choose to return to discover their roots but in the meantime, it is here, in the suburbs of Paris that they spent their formative years and call home. And what a privileged place to be but, It is all too easy to become blind to the splendor of these surroundings, and especially so when summer months see yet more friends moving afield, ready for their children to begin a new school year in an exciting new city. This is an aspect of expat life that I can never become numb to; making good friends but knowing that the future brings inevitable separation too.

It is almost a year since I discovered a lump in my breast – part way through our time at our home in The South. One day there was nothing, the next a hard, olive like lump appeared… I jumped out of bed, jiggled about to see if it would disappear; my brain didn’t comprehend… Later my mind went to The C Word but by the time we arrived home I was quite convinced that it was a cyst and made an appointment with my doctor to ask him for a quick confirmation of my diagnosis… What followed were a biopsy, lumpectomy and radiotherapy (thankfully a DNA test ruled out chemotherapy though if that had been the case I had decided that I’d have an array of coloured wigs). I went through the motions; I don’t think that the whole situation has yet sunk. Radiotherapy is almost invisible – a slight change of skin texture and colour but, it is the fatigue that is still with me that is difficult to manage. Outwardly, I look my usual fit and healthy, I strode through the treatment but inside I feel a peculiar mixture of strength but vulnerability too. Life isn’t supposed to throw anything that we can’t deal with and however awful different things have been, I can’t disagree. There is a shining light at the end of each tunnel but, it is our attitude, inner-confidence and self-belief that allow this to be seen and held. The loving support of family and friends is essential but it is The Self that forms a solid foundation.

The view from my desk is leafy and green and this idealistic garden is where I have spent the last few days, bathed in glorious sunshine, stripping varnish from a coffee table and my dining chairs before patined to a soft ‘shabby’ white. I hadn’t quite realized what an enormous task this promised to be and am whole heartedly grateful to a good friend who helped enormously, leading the way. The dining table is next, but will have to patiently wait until the end of the summer because it is July and as the rest of the world knows, work in France stops each summer but, it is this creativity that has, I hope, re-awoken my soul….