It's been a rough week. A really rough week. My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer which has, horrifically, spread to her liver. We're all devastated. But ready to go into battle alongside her. She will survive. I know this. The other night when I cried myself awake, after I had become still, I became intensely aware of the words 'This is not a dance of death'. I'm holding fast to promise I felt in the silence of the night. She starts chemo on Wednesday. We've bought almost R400's worth of ginger sweets and I intend baking rusks this afternoon, from a recipe she's used for as long as I remember. There is something comforting about this robust biscuit. The one we dip into our tea or coffee, the biscuit our teething babies gnaw on, the biscuit that I hope will calm my mother's nausea.
Jacques tells me that there is a woman who, every Wednesday, brings rusks to all the patients and medical staff waiting and working in the Haematology Department of Tygerberg Hospital where he works. He once asked her why she and her family did this thoughtful, compassionate thing. She told him that she had a son who was treated for leukemia a few years ago, and that, while tragically he died, she and her family remain grateful for the care that he received there. So they come every Wednesday and honour the young man that they so loved.
Jacques tells me that her son, Piet, is a legend in the department; that stories are told of his courage and character, how he pimped up his hospital room, how he made people laugh, how he would write inspiring messages on paper aeroplanes and then float them out of his hospital room window.
One of his friends made this video about him. It is beautiful, but unbearably sad. Watch it when you're feeling strong.
So today, I will gather the courage and the strength to hold the fear and sadness of my mother who carries the disease and my father who loves her so much. And I will bake rusks. And remember the courage of those brave souls who went before; the Niccis and the Piets, and the Tannie Laurethas,and the Aunty Frankies and the Adriaans.
And then I will phone my friend Didi, because 15 years ago she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and today she heals patients in her medical practice, she makes love to her husband, she holds her son in her arms and she laughs with her friends.
Today the rusks I bake will be life-affirming.