Your mother has always hated me, and I do believe it would not have mattered who I was, she would have hated me. I took her baby boy, her only child. In her eyes, I kept you from coming home, I kept her from her grandchildren, I disallowed you from having a relationship with her.

It does not matter that it was you who made those decisions because of how she treated me. It does not matter that we had to set up strict boundaries in order to salvage our marriage and maintain peace in our home.

After many years of counseling and learning to emotionally distance myself from her, there is really nothing there as far as feelings go. I do not hate her, but I do not love her. I do not feel for her any more than I would for the person I just met on the street. And just like that person on the street, I do not want anything bad to happen to her, I do not wish her ill.

Because despite her faults, she is still one of God’s children, and she is still a person.

I know you don’t quite understand that. I know you think I hate her, or at least that I should hate her because of how she treated me. I know you expect that because that is what you would do. Anger is your default emotion. You expect me to feel the same, and I don’t. 

Now she has been diagnosed with cancer. And I think you, in some ways, expected me to be happy about it or to feel like she deserved it. But I don’t. I feel sorry for her, but mostly, I worry about you. I hurt for you because no matter what she thinks of me, she is your mother and you are watching her die. 

And so, dear husband, after 10 years of marriage and 13 years together, I need you to know, I need you to remember . . . 

Your pain is my pain. Your hurt is my hurt. Your anxiety is my anxiety.

No matter how much you turn inward, no matter how much you withdraw, I will be here, holding down the fort. I will be your comfort. I will be your calm in the storm, and I will be the one standing there with arms open to hold you when you crumble. I will pick up your pieces and lovingly attempt to hold them together.

You can grieve. You can be angry. You can be in denial. You can be in despair. I will love you through it all. Because despite the fact your mother doesn’t like me, it’s not about me and I know that. It’s about you, and your relationship with her. It’s about your own guilt, your own regrets, your own hopes for something different dying.

It’s about you losing your mother. 

I will lovingly shoulder the burden and carry you through the grief and the pain. I will not falter; I will not break. God created me for this, and so at your side, I will remain. 

Hannah Bentley-Keeven

Farmer, homeschool teacher to our three children, and loving wife.