Monday, March 01, 2010

A letter to my sister-in-law

Although we aren't close in the way some sisters-in-law are, you are still such an important part of my life. For one thing, you actually married my brother! And had two beautiful boys with him, my gorgeous nephews. We live in different countries so we don't see each other that often, but I always enjoy the times we are together, as one big family. Do you remember that first Christmas you spent with us when we made you dress up as a swan for a family performance of Swan Lake. And to think you still married him!

How could anyone know what lay around the corner? Sometimes I look at old photos and try to see in those pictures some sign that things weren't right, but I can't. Your hair is shiny, you are smiling. How were we to know that you were being eaten away inside? I'll never forget my mother calling and saying 'we have a problem'. I'll never forget you walking into my flat after the diagnosis of 3rd stage ovarian cancer and hearing you sobbing for 'my boys, my boys'.

But you have struggled on. No one will ever match you and my brother for sheer strength in facing your nightmare with dignity and telling everyone else it will be okay.

But it isn't okay. Because your cancer is terminal. Three years of fighting and hoping only to be told that it will get you in the end. I get angry when I read about 'brave cancer survivors' as if bravery can be enough to get you through this and those who succumb must in some way have been a little bit too weak. No one has ever been stronger than you in facing this and yet you will die from it.

All those broken dreams. All those nightmares faced. My mother seeing her son dealing with one of the worst things that life can throw and knowing that her grandsons face a terrible loss. My father, endlessly optimistic, having to accept that life is unfair and sometimes things don't work out. We've always been a lucky family - how did this happen? My brother, quiet and contained, shouldering it all and hoping beyond hope that you could hold on until a cure was found, now faced with a life alone raising two young boys. Two sisters, grieving for their family's nightmare, their brother's pain. My two nephews, living in the present as children can, but with a life ahead without their mother there to hold them and guide them.

And You. Your life and dreams cut short right before your eyes, faced with the awful knowledge that you won't grow old with your husband or see your boys grow into men or become a grandmother to their children. I'm a mother now too and I can hardly bear to think of the agony you must go through. To know that you won't be there to take them to school, to help with their homework, to soothe their nightmares, to hold their hands, to remind them to brush their teeth and clear their plates, to cuddle and kiss them and to tuck them in at night. Where do you find the strength to keep going when faced with that?

We may not be close like some sisters-in-law but that won't make it any easier to lose you.

March is Ovarian Cancer Awareness month. Please be aware.

7 Comments:

Blogger Muddling Along Mummy said...

Oh my - I wish there was something I could say, just all I can say is that I'm thinking of you all

9:39 pm  
Blogger Young Mummy said...

Sending you all my love. This has got me in tears. x

1:41 pm  
Blogger solveig said...

Thanks for your comments, ladies.

S xxx

8:29 am  
Blogger Sandy Calico said...

I am so sorry. Cancer is evil. My best friend's husband is in a hospice. I'm just waiting for the call. He will leave two children and two step-children. Thinking of you x

9:29 am  
Blogger solveig said...

Thanks Sandy. Sorry to hear about your friend - you are right, it is just evil.

S x

11:41 am  
Blogger the heartful blogger said...

This is so moving. Also thinking of you and your family x

5:12 pm  
Blogger solveig said...

Thank you. S x

7:58 am  

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