”It’s very hard,” they said, “So hard for you.
What with looking after your Dad and his cancer, and your mum and all,
with her falls and her mental illness.”
That was when my sister-in-law phoned me to say, “Good-bye!
This is good-bye. This is the end of our friendship of over thirty years.
I won’t be seeing you again because
I’ve quarrelled with my brother: he won’t do what I say.
And you haven’t been to our house for a while.”
“It’s very hard,” they said then,”so very hard for you,
What with your dear dad’s cancer, and now his death,
and looking after your mum,
what with her falls and her mental illness,
and doing the shopping and cleaning and cooking.
But you have a sister. She must help?”
Does she fuck.
“I live so far away,” she said, (An hour and ten).
“I have such needy children,”(Three nice sturdy teenagers, one at University.).
”I work 50, 60, 70 hours a week,” (A primary school teacher.).
“I AM NOT RESPITE.”, is what she said, (And she sure isn’t.).
“I will give you notice of when I will visit.”. (She does,
and cancels when my mother, with her mental illness, does not behave.).
“It’s very hard,” they said that day, “how hard for you,
What with the news that your little grandson has died in the womb,
What with your son being in absolute bits,
And your daughter-in-law will have to give birth on Sunday.
But you and your husband
Have two brothers and three sisters between you,
And they have husbands and wives you have been close to.
They will comfort you.”
One of them actually grieved with us, a phone call.
One sister in law sent a message on Facebook Messenger.
The rest, did they fuck.
Fuck all, we heard from them.
“It’s very hard for you,” the receptionist at the Maternity Unit said,
”How hard, what with your mother falling on the floor
while your brave daughter-in-law
is giving birth to your poor little dead grandson.
Have you got to go and pick her up?
Have you not got
a sister who would come up and look after your mum
on the day that this terrible thing,
this traumatic thing,
this fucking unfair fucking dreadful thing
Have I fuck.
My sister visited the day before we held our tiny dead grandson in our arms.
Once every three to four weeks
She visits my mum. For three to four hours, to suit
Yes, it is. It’s very fucking hard.