Hymn to Her


Yesterday we buried my mother-in-law. She died on 4 December after battling with an incurable illness for some time, but her life was marred with ill health, including two incidences of breast cancer. So it seems right and proper for this to be the first post in a while, and dedicated to her.

We all have people in our lives who shape us; Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders was one of mine. Her songs capture a rawness and honesty that transport me back to my university days. Hymn to Her feels an appropriate choice for this post – the lyrics reflecting on the people in our lives who have played a mothering role. My own mum died 15 years ago and I recall at the funeral my mother-in-law, Ann, hugging me when the coffin appeared, now (I realise) probably being reminded of her own mum’s passing. Yesterday, as Ann was being remembered I held her husband’s hand – it felt the right thing to do.

She had breast cancer twice. And fought it and didn’t complain about it or the treatment she had. This has me thinking on many levels about the way I and others I know who are suffering, deal with it. I’m about to start some counselling for mine – as I know I haven’t dealt with the emotional side of having it at all. But I’m now also acutely aware that not speaking about it is a way of coping too. She chose not to – I know I need to. I may come back to this blog in 2018 to write more about this – as a safe haven to off-load and share what I’m willing to. Please don’t judge me harshly for doing this – it’s my way of coping.

For sure it’s a hard thing to get right. To struggle with the notion that this might affect your future. And the reality that it already has affected your present. But I suspect all breast cancer sufferers have to reconcile the notion of there being a different post-cancer life. I’m hoping talking therapy will help me do that.

And on Ann, my lovely mother-in-law, she was a very different mother to my own. But would have given the moon on a stick to anyone she loved. And was a wonderful nanny to our daughter who gave the most moving, heartfelt and beautiful speech at the funeral. The power of motherly love is immense. Hymn to Her will always now remind me of Ann.


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