I heard someone wailing – it was a terrible sound

11.1.2012 The last photo I ever took of Vic

On Thursday night I slept from 12 until 3.30.  I woke up with a start, and it was Danie’s watch…. He was sitting on a chair next to Vic’s bed.  Tears brimming in his eyes. 

“I have been timing her breathing” Danie said.  “Her breathing is shallow – every 5 minutes she takes a deep breath.”

“I read about it” I said.  It is called Cheyne-Stokes breathing”

We sat in complete silence counting the shallow breaths between the deep breaths.   I counted 25 breaths between every deep breath.

“It is changing” I said

My brother came through just before 5.  “Why did you not wake me?  I was supposed to be on duty from 4…” he said

“I could not sleep” I said

The three of us again just sat and listened to Vic’s breathing.  She was motionless and her eyes were slightly open.  Her feet, hands and arms were cold.  The rest of her body was burning up with fever – 40+ degrees C.  Her little toes had started discoloring.

At 7 O clock I washed Vic.  I had started cutting open T Shirts so her little chest was covered.  I was too scared to move her – scared that she would fracture and that it would cause her more pain.  I put deodorant on her and baby powder.  A light spray of Estee Lauder’s “Beautiful” finished off her beauty routine for the morning.

At 10 o’clock Lee had to leave.  She had a meeting that could not be changed.   She cried when she left.

I lay next to my beautiful child.  My hand was on her heart and my head right next hers.  I could hear her breathing becoming more and more shallow.  Leon arrived.  The three men stood at the bottom of her bed.

I whispered words of comfort and love to Vic – non-stop….

“I love you angel child…  There is nothing to be scared off….  It is almost over baby!  I love you so much” I repeated the words over and over again.

I could feel her little heart beating softer and softer under my hand.

“She is going” I said

Her little chest hardly moved.  Her breathing was so shallow!  And then it stopped!  For a couple of seconds there was no movement.   No heartbeat.  No breathing.  And then a tiny little flutter…and then nothing!  Just nothing!!

I heard someone wailing.  It was a terrible sound.  It was me.

Part of me had just died.


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I am a sixty plenty wife, mother, sister, grandmother and friend. I started blogging as a coping mechanism during my beautiful daughter's final journey. Vic was desperately ill for 10 years after a botched back operation. Vic's Journey ended on 18 January 2013 at 10:35. She was the most courageous person in the world and has inspired thousands of people all over the world. Vic's two boys are monuments of her existence. She was an amazing mother, daughter, sister and friend. I will miss you today, tomorrow and forever my Angle Child. https://tersiaburger.wordpress.com

27 thoughts on “I heard someone wailing – it was a terrible sound”

  1. Tersia, although I’ve never met you I can sense that you are one in a million. You treated Vic like a princess right to the end. I hope you will be blessed abundantly for being such a pillar of strength, love and support to your special girl. XXX


  2. Ai, my liewe tannie Tersia!!!!!!
    Hoe baie kere het ek nie saam met die mens gestaan wat daardie gil gegee het nie??
    Soos ek dit lees, raak my oe maar net weer vol trane, maar dis bie net vir tannie nie, dis vir elke persoon wat ek bygestaan het met ‘n sterfte van iemand wat soooo baie vir hulle beteken het.
    Ek het elke keer saam gehuil. Ek het elke keer vasgehou…
    Maar om te lees dat dit TANNIE was laat my wens ek was daar om saam met TANNIE te huil en om TANNIE vas te hou!!
    Niks en niemand kan mens ooit voorberei vir daardie oomblik nie. Mens wonder altyd, maar jy is nooit “reg” daarvoor nie.
    Ek is jammer dat ek nie hierdie pad saam met tannie kan stap nie, maar WEET asb dat julle elkeen in my gedagtes is!!!
    Baie lief vir julle!!!


  3. You always stood by Vic. You did more than you possibly could. What amazing love and dedication. I admire you dearest Ters. May The Lord comfort you and give you peace x x x


  4. Tersia babes ….your beautiful daughter is gone now ….u did everything humanly possible to save Vicky from pain …heartache …fear….she is in a place far more beautiful than this …its time that u let go ..and let the angels take care of her now ……she wants u to be happy …she will forever be around …stay stroNg and beautiful ……


    1. Joana, thank you for your love and support of not only Vic, but of the family. Your messages mean so much to us! The flowers were beautiful and Vic would have loved them. Thank you!


  5. Dear Tersia,
    My thoughts are with you.Life will feel very empty without all the effort and nursing you’ve done for so long. But the boys still need you. You will also be so physically drained, that you’ll need to care for yourself, as this will impact on your emotional wellbeing
    In letting go, you can also help Vic move on to the next step of her great journey. Our grief can make it hard for them to go and hard for us to cope. As you move through your grief with the same insight and intelligence that helped Vic to take her next steps, you will start to feel peace.
    Blessings to you all


  6. Dear Tersia you have been amazing in your love and care for Vic right to the very end. You could not have done more for her, take care of yourself and Vic’s lovely boys now. I know that you and the family will hold Vic close in your hearts forever.


  7. Ai my nig, ek is so bly jy skryf hierdie dinge neer, sodat jy verligting kan kry vir die pyn, ek sit nou hier voor die rekenaar en huil so saam met jou. Ek is so jammer vir julle, ek glo jul hele leefwyse verander nou, elke dag ‘n anner beplanning – dit gaan seker ‘n tydjie neem om weer anners op te tree maar neem dit dag vir dag. weet ons dink aan julle


  8. Tersia, After reading your heart-wrenching posts about the passing of your beloved daughter, I was so happy to read the comment you left on my blog that Vic has been in touch with you. I am not surprised given the close bond you two share.


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