On the death of a sister

For Zof

I found out today that a sister has died. A woman who I have never met, never seen and whose real name I don’t know died in May. Yet I shed tears of genuine loss because we have lost a woman who spent her entire adult life working for the good of women and women’s organisations. I also weep for the sadness and loneliness of her death from cancer.

I don’t know much about her but what I do know is that she was a CND activist and a member of the women’s peace camp at Greenham Common in the 80s. She went to Africa and India with Save the Children to work as a midwife in very deprived areas, setting up health clinics for women and their babies. After getting back to the UK she volunteered with a women’s refuge for several years and then most recently as a volunteer with Rape Crisis, providing therapeutic counselling and psychotherapy for women and girls who have been raped or sexually abused.

By anyone’s standards that is an incredible tally of feminist action and she will have made such a positive contribution to the lives of so many women. Even in the midst of her own terminal illness she was touching the lives of women within our online Twitter community with her wisdom and kindness. No medals, no gongs…but in her own quiet way a heroine.

I know that she was deeply affected by the love of her online friends and that in her final months she took great comfort from those friendships.

Farewell, Zof and thank you, and while I write this I think too of all the countless other women who make our own lives better in a thousand different ways and I promise to be a better sister.

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