13 January 2017

First things first: 

Thank you, thank you, thank you, wonderful readers. Thank you for your supportive and kind comments, for your suggestions and your encouragement, for reading and letting me know that you are there.

Woke up at 3 am tossing and turning with aches and increasing pain and after that, little sleep and working hard on keeping all that miserable worst case scenario thinking out of my mind. I eventually settled on the theory of the two steps forward, one step back recovery road and argued for a while with my impatient self. In the end, I saw my daughter's feverish face, aged 9, during a week of a nasty childhood illness, and I could hear her tiny voice whispering: right so, I have to get through this and then it's over, yes?
She doesn't remember but I do. She did say this.

I took one ultram from the emergency pack they gave me when I was discharged and it had no effect, which is a relief in a way. It is not a nice drug. 

The snow chaos has not (yet?) happened. My man went to work coughing. Life goes on.

When R was 20, his mother, my beautiful future mother-in-law, had a terrible accident. Her car was hit by the delivery van of her local grocer and pushed against a wall. She just about survived it and spent six long months in traction, unable to move, staring at the ceiling.
Many years later, when I had become a member of that family, I was told various versions of this time, bits of memories here and there. The main story was always that her hair, her beautiful thick dark brown hair, after it was shaved off grew back white. She had just turned 51.
Whenever I ask R about the time, he tells me that his memories are all very vague, hazy. That he was busy being young and wild, ready to move to England for the summer. I ask him if he spent time with her in hospital and he replies, Oh I'm sure I did, and I love the certainty in his voice. 
And occasionally he mentions her shaved head with the holes in it for the traction cables and how close she was to being paralysed. He also remembers quite vividly the white leatherette sofa in the grocer's sitting room where they all sat that evening, crying, the two families, neighbours, a priest. Imagine, white leatherette, R says, shaking his head.

I always have a hard time imagining this. My wonderful mother-in-law was such a lively and energetic woman, talking, laughing, singing, dancing. And playing. On the rare occasions of actual snow in Dublin, she had us all, dogs included, tobogganing on bin bags and dinner trays down to Saval Park Road from the Killiney Hill car park, with a massive snowball fight at the end. 
Six months in traction. What have I got to complain. 
I loved her dearly, she changed me, she helped me, she loved me back. She died much too young. That bastard, pancreatic cancer, swept her away in three short months when she was 67.


  1. You are a beautiful and strong soul and I am so glad to "know" you.

  2. People can be amazingly tough when it's a matter of survival, as you well know.

  3. Such a story of your mother-in-law, what strength she had. As I read this I sense how much stronger you have become already since you've been home. Everyday may it be so.
    (My apologies if this comment shows up more than once. Google was not letting me log in on Firefox.)

  4. I figure as long as you're writing you'll be OK! Your mother-in-law sounds like one gutsy lady....I also lost a dear friend to that same fiend.
    Party on Sabine! You're an inspiration.

  5. The memory of your mother in law is inspiration for us all. She's giving you strength still. I love what your daughter said when she was small and not feeling well; it says so much about her will to keep on, which I'm sure she learned from her parents. Hugs.

  6. This post and that beautiful photo are quite moving. Thank you so much, Sabine.

  7. It's so nice to know someone like you, Sabine. I've said before..and I'll say it again :), I always come away feeling a bit stronger. This is a give and take thing - on both ends, so thank you!
    You MinLaw sounds like just the kind of person I would have loved to know - I'm very glad you did.
    A tidbit, for whatever it's worth. I wear a little elastic band on my wrist (one of those things you wear in your hair), when I have a thought I don't want, I snap it. For me it takes several snaps - and then I am able to drop that thought. It gives a clear moment and that is enough for me to shift gears and get something else in my head - positive, I hope. haha But it works for me. It's just a thought. Hope you continue to improve each day!

  8. And what a bastard it is, that pancreatic cancer.

    Thanks for introducing us to your mother-in-law.

  9. The Vet Center therapist once told me never to compare pain. Not one person to another, not from one time in your life to another. Pain is pain, and must be faced each time.

    But learn from your dear MIL, that pain passes. Life will return.

    Oh, and we get what everyone gets : A lifetime.