St Joseph’s Lilies…


Photo Credit to:  thegardeningblog.co.za
Photo Credit to: thegardeningblog.co.za

Someone phoned Colin and told him it was okay to bring the boys home…

My friend Judy arrived.  I can’t remember for love or money what she said.  I do remember the comfort I felt from her presence.  The boys arrived and we group hugged.  I remember thinking “how calm they are”…

I took them through to Vic’s room, the linen had already been changed and the room tidied.  One would never say someone as precious as my beautiful Vic had died in the room a couple of hours earlier…  Vic’s room looked the same as it would have looked if she was in hospital.  As if she would be home within a couple of days or weeks … as thousands of times before.

We cried a bit.  We spoke about her suffering being over.  I could sense her gentle spirit.

Vic’s room was not a scary place to be.  Esther said that it was a room of love…  I was so scared the boys would not want to go into Vic’s room, that they would associate the room with death.  My dad too died in that room…  I knew I had to sleep in Vic’s bed (again) that night.

The minister and undertaker arrived at the same time.  The minister had prayed for Vic so many times in her life…he knew her well.  I always called him my “secret weapon”.  On umpteen occasions he prayed the dying prayer and Vic would miraculously recover!  This time it had not worked.  This time he would pray the prayer for the dead…

The boys and Colin sat in on the meeting.  We discussed the service and I requested that Vic not be referred to as the “deceased”.  Vic had given me the order of the service, the hymns she wanted sung and the names of her pallbearers.    The boys decided on Psalm 71 as the Scripture reading – it was Vic’s favourite Psalm and one of their favourites.  It was easy.  The minister, Bella, prayed and left.

The undertaker hauled out his I pad and within minutes he had scanned Vic’s and my ID documents.  He showed us lots of photos of different caskets.  We chose a dark coloured rectangular casket.

“Would you like flowers on the coffin?” he asked

“Oh yes” I said.  “St Joseph’s lilies – lots and lots of them” I asked.

“How big must the bouquet be?” he asked

“The entire length and width of the coffin” I replied

“That’s a lot of flowers” he said.  “The coffin is 2m long…”

“That’s far too big” I said

“Mommy will slide up and down in the coffin” one of the boys said….

“Don’t worry” he said.  “We put in wedges so she would slide around”

“We want 2 metres of flowers” I said

“Can we add another type of flower” he asked

White roses” the boys said simultaneously

“Do you want a viewing or an open casket” the undertaker asked.

No!  No-one is to see Vic the ways she looks now.” I said

The funeral was arranged.

 

 

Vic has left home for the last time…


My beautiful Vic sleeping peacefully 10.1.2013.
My beautiful Vic sleeping peacefully 10.1.2013.

For a long time after Vic had breathed her last breath I lay next to her.  I touched her face and hugged her close to me.  Something I could not do in life as I may have fractured a bone or two.  Everybody left me alone with Vic.  I was so grateful for that precious time with my angel child.

I washed Vic and dressed her in her favourite pyjamas.  It was so difficult trying to dress her limp body.  Although I knew it did not matter anymore I was scared I would hurt her.  Years of conditioning I suppose.  I was shocked to see that a large part of her body had already discoloured.  Her right hand shoulder, her back and the top of her legs were black and blue.  When I washed her little body at 7am that morning, a mere 3.5 hours earlier, only her little toes had started discolouring… Her back was still so warm from the fever that had racked her body.  Her hands, feet and face were cold to the touch. 

I brushed her beautiful hair. 

Then I realised that the boys could not come home until Vic had been “removed”.  I phoned Siza to pronounce Vic and the undertakers and requested that they send their people to come and fetch my child.  I lay with her for a further 30 minutes.  I held her tight and cried for her.  I just wanted to die.

Siza, arrived…. She was so matter of fact about Vic’s passing.  She put cotton wool in my child’s mouth because Vic’s jaw had relaxed!  I wish I never saw that!

Just before 1pm the undertakers arrived.  I was torn.  I did not want her to go but I could see that her beautiful soul had left her body.  It was no longer my beautiful baby girl who lay in that bed.  In death Vic looked like a stranger… yet I felt that if Vic left that room she would forever be gone.  Strange…..

The undertakers walked into Vic’s room.  They were so smartly dressed in dark suits, white shirts and red ties. 

They hugged me and said “When you are ready… We can wait”.

I remember thinking “I look so ugly when I cry.  These strangers can see me cry!”.  I nodded and they wheeled in a gurney type “bed”.

They meticulously folded up the outer cover to reveal a plastic sheet.   They lowered the gurney to the same level as Vic’s bed and took her from my arms…

Someone said “Be careful.  She breaks bones easily…”

They lay Vic on this horrible plastic sheet and covered her in it.  I wanted to die.  I still want to die just thinking of it.  My beautiful baby girl, who only deserved Egyptian cotton, wrapped in hard plastic!!  They quickly replaced the cover and zipped it close.  I think my sobs were driving them mad.

Vic looked so tiny on that darn gurney!  Tiny and dead!!

Minutes after one my baby girl left home for the last time.  Never again would she grace us with her presence.  Never again would she shuffle down the passage, never again would we hear her laughter or her cries of pain.

Vic left home – forever.

“It is close”…


Image

Tuesday 22.1.2013 – Tonight is the first night in a long time that I lay on my sofa, in my own TV lounge, watching Law & Order.  I kept listening for the sound of Vic’s little feet shuffling down the passage…It is the first time since Vic’s death that I truly experienced the “emptiness” of the house.

The house has been so busy.  In the days preceding Vic’s death the boys went to stay with friends and family.  Vic’s suffering was too horrible for them to witness.  I did not want them to remember life ebbing out of her.  On the 15th my brother arrived from the coast and my sister from a neighbouring city.  I was in such a dazed stupor that I don’t remember them arriving.  I fell asleep next to Vic with my head next to hers, and my hand on her heart whilst the minister was saying a prayer….

On Wednesday the 16th Leeann started staying with me.  Danie, my brother, Lee-Ann and I took turns on Thursday night staying awake with Vic.  The time still passed in an absolute maze of unreality.  I knew on the 16th that Vic would die by the weekend.

Vic was still able to communicate with her eyes. She blinked when I asked her a question and her answer were “yes”.

Thursday Dr Sue came to see Vic.

“It is close” Sue said.

Murky red urine dripped into the catheter bag….  Vic’s eyes no longer closed completely… Her eyes had “broken”… she was gasping for breath.

“We must increase the Buscopan” Sue said.

“I think I have heard a rattling sound once or twice” I said

“Yes” Sue said.  “I can hear it clearly through the stethoscope”

Sue increased the pain medication as well as the sedation.

We decided to let the boys come and say their goodbyes…  Someone, I am not sure who, went and fetched the boys from school.  The boys walked into their Mom’s room.  Their eyes wide and sad.  They lay with her and whispered soft words into her ears.  They softly kissed her and walked away.  It must of been the hardest thing they had ever done.

I send Danie out to go find me a new blood pressure measure that fits around the wrist and would not hurt her little arms every time I took her blood pressure.  (Sue had one…)  I became almost obsessive in trying to ascertain where she was in her journey.  Vic was very unstable – within minutes her blood pressure went from 150/123 to LO (too low to measure) on the machine.  Her pulse was racing at 160 beats a minute.

I lay next to her with my hand on her heart.  Her little heart was pounding against the palm of my hand.  Vic was fighting with every fibre in her body to stay alive.  I looked at my child and thought “If I have her admitted to the Donald Gordon ICU they may be able to save her…” but then I realized that it was futile.  Vic was slipping away and nobody could do anything in the world to change that. Vic was dying and I was helpless.  I could not save my child.

Rest in Peace My Angle Child 22.1.2013


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Where do I start?  How do I begin a farewell when I still can’t believe you’re gone?  How do I say goodbye to a part of my soul?

The day you were born I experienced this UNBELIEVABLE rush of love.  I was smitten from the first second I lay eyes on you.

You came into my life and changed me forever.  Over the years people have complimented me for being a good mother but I truly cannot take credit for that.  You were born good, and great and amazing.  You were the one who taught me lessons in life.  I believe you are an angel God sent to teach me.

You taught me love.  You taught me honesty.  You taught me to love unconditionally.  You taught me how to forgive and how to be strong.  You are the strongest person I have ever known.  You gave me strength when I was weak.  When times were sad and tough you reminded me to be grateful for the small things in life.  You taught me how to be myself.  Most of all you taught me about life and how to live.

When you were diagnosed with Osteogenesis Imperfecta at the age of 18 months and the doctors told me I should wrap you in cotton wool and wait for you to die you taught me it was more important to feel and grow like any other child than to have me hide you under my wing.   It was so important to you to live.  And that you did.  You gave birth to not one beautiful baby but two!  You mothered the boys the way you lived life – with a passion.

You are the bravest person in the world.  You rewrote medical history.  You defied death for so many years… You mocked bad news and a poor prognosis…

 

You made me so proud.  You have always been my greatest pride and joy.  At school you excelled as a pianist.  As a mommy you were an example to all.  As a dying person you were brave beyond words.

I’m not sure how I can live this life without you.  You worried about me just as much as I worried about you.  You told everyone how worried you were that I would not cope without you.  You fought so hard to stay alive.  You fought until you gave your very last breath.  You did not want to leave your boys.  You lived for your boys.

You often said you were scared people would forget you…

No-one will ever forget you.  You made an incredible impact on the world.  You left two monuments of your love and mothering skills.  Your sons will honour you every day of their lives with their actions.

Your dream of a Hospice for Alberton has been realised in Stepping Stone. Thousands of people will benefit from your dream and compassion in years to come.  It is ironic that you were Stepping Stone’s first death…

Two weeks before your passing you  started seeing angels.  You saw Gramps, Uncle Dries, your father and Auntie Marlene.  Then a week before your passing you said “My whole room is full of angels”  You fought to stay alive every single day of your life.  Eleven months ago you called a family meeting and told us that you had decided enough is enough.  No more surgeries.  No more hospitals.

Over the past 11 months you made your final wishes known.  You planned your memorial service.  You spoke to the boys about what was important.  I personally got a long list of do’s and don’t’s.

Just before Christmas you said you were worried about me. That you could see I thought you would bounce back again…You said you were dying…You could feel the changes in your body.  But like 95% of the people in this church today I honestly though you would bounce back and defy death once again!

The day you were born you filled my entire life.  You were always my first and last thought.  I feel numb and as if I am in a bubble.  You will be happy to know that we have been surrounded by love and support.  But it still feels as if the world should have stopped because you left it.

Vic, I miss you so much already and I don’t know if I can take this pain anymore.  But then I think, how can I be sad when I know you’re in a better place?  How can I be sad when you brought me so much happiness?   How can I be sad when God is already working miracles through you?  How can I be sad when I feel like the luckiest person on earth to have been chosen to be your mother?  How can I be sad when God gave you to me for 14,019 days, 20 hours and 15 minutes?  I thank God every day for the time we shared together.

Baby I promise you today we will be the support system for the boys you wanted.  We love them so much.  No-one in the world can ever take your place.  We promise we will keep your memories alive.  We will honour our promises to you.

So now we must bid you farewell.  It is your time to run, free from pain and suffering.  We will always love you.  We will never forget you.

Rest in Peace my Angel Child. 

 

 

The mention of my child’s name


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The mention of my child’s name

by Kim Knapp

The mention of my child’s name
May bring tears to my eyes,
But it never fails to bring
Music to my ears.
If you are really my friend,
Let me hear the beautiful music of her name.
It soothes my broken heart
And sings to my soul.
~~~~author unknown

http://www.thefuneralsite.com/ResourceCenters/Poetry_and_Quotes/Children.html

Vicky Bruce 31.8.1974 to 18.1.2013


Vicky Bruce, brave warrior, beloved mother of Jared and Jon-Daniel Sadie, beautiful daughter of Tersia and Danie Burger, sister and friend lost her brave battle against Osteogenesis Imperfecta on 18 January 2013. Finally, you can run angel child!  Your incredible will to live and your beautiful soul will live on in your amazing sons.  They are truly monuments that will honour you forever.  You are finally free and reunited with you Daddy, Moekie and Gramps.!  Run Vic run! Love you now and forever baby!

Vicky Bruce
Vicky Bruce

dead woman walking


Last night I had a discussion with someone who Vic loves very dearly.  This friend of Vic has spent endless hours, days, weeks and months in hospital with Vic.  She is actually the only person that has truly travelled this horrific journey with us.  Vic has lived through many death sentences and reprieves.  Lee has been around for at least the past 7 years of Vic’s journey.  Vic has nursed Vic back to health many times and I know she cares deeply for Vic, her friend.

I discussed the various treatment options with her.  Do I insist on having a stent fitted or do I request feeding tubes?  Or do I go with Vic’s non-intervention wish?  But if I comply how do I bring calmness and peace in Vic’s life?  Vic is no exception to the rule…As Bella pointed out last night even Jesus of NAZARETH feared death….Fearing death is as natural as breathing is to us.

Last night I decided no sedation.  If I allow sedation, which is against her wishes, I will silence Vic’s voice, her fears and her tears.

Dr Sue says the bleeding is from the abdomen.  Her Oesophagus, throat and mouth are covered in a mass of sores from all the vomiting.  Her breathing is shallow and her heart rate weak but very rapid.  Her blood pressure is dropping and her circulation is poor.  The liver is very enlarged.

We are past the point of no return.  Vicky is dying and only a miracle can save her.  There is no operation, no magic medication, and no nothing that can save her.

Today I again witnessed her anguish and phenomenal will to live.  I saw Vic, in my mind’s eye, Vic being escorted, in deadly silence down a long dark passage.  Her family and friends were escorting her on her final walk into the chamber of death.  I clearly saw the fear in her eyes and I could feel her little body trembling with fear.  I heard a voice saying “Dead woman walking…”

I saw her walk into an execution room, being strapped down and the needle being inserted into her little arm.  I was the head warden and my eyes were flitting between the clock and a telephone…Would there be another reprieve??

It is so cruel.  For all of us.  Why do people linger?  Why don’t we all just go to sleep and never wake up?  Or die in a car accident?  Why this suffering???  I want to go to sleep and never wake up.  Life sucks!

Vic is on a mild sedation.  She is more calm and peaceful than she has been for a couple of weeks.  She woke up this evening and had dinner…half a hamburger!!  My little take-away queen!! She only vomited at 11.30 pm so she managed to actually keep down the food.  She has passed no urine today.

She sobbed when I told her the boys had covered their school books…”I want to do it for them!”  She wailed

“I have let down my boys.  I always cover their books…”

“Oh Jared, look!  Oupa Tienie is standing behind you…”  It really spooked the boys.  Tienie died on the 5th of November 1999…

I wish Vic was married.  I wish her biological father was still alive!  I wish the decision was not mine!!!

Tomorrow I will ask that the sedation be increased.  I will silence my child’s sweet voice.  I will also silence her tears and fears.

“Dead woman walking…”

 

Gramps was here…..


Vic and her Gramps 1.4.2011
Vic and her Gramps 1.4.2011

Monday 7.1.2013  was a crazy day.  Vic was not in a good space.

Angela, Vic’s BFF came to visit.  She is not only beautiful but also a calm and serene person.  She radiates goodness.  Angela being here gives me some time because I really trust her.  I am able to get some essential chores done knowing that she is keeping an eye on Vic.

“Gramps was here” Vic said.

“How is he?” I asked

“I don’t know.  He just came to tell me how much he loves us all…” Vic replied

My Dad forgot how to breathe on the 15th of May 2011.  He died in our home (in the very same room as Vic) surrounded by his beloved family.  At times he was a stranger in the world.   Some days he woke up in a room he could not remember from one nap to the next, lived with “strangers” and thought I was my Mom.  Despite the advanced Alzheimer’s, he never forgot who Vic was and that she was ill.  At times he forgot whether she was in hospital or out but he never forgot her or that she was ill.

“He has come to take you by your hand Sweetie…”  I said

“I KNOW Mommy” she said impatiently.

Lee, Jared’s BFF mom popped around with a huge basket of exquisite flowers.  Of course, Vic immediately got a bee in her bonnet and had to get out of bed.  Always the social animal!

Esther arrived and Vic burst into tears when she saw her sister.

“I am so scared Sis” Vic cried in her sisters arms.

Esther has become Vic’s “coach”.  She has the love for Vic to ask her what is holding her back; she tells Vic to run towards the light; to let go – the boys are safe are cared for.  She holds Vic and dries her tears….

Danie took the boys for a haircut and new school uniforms.

In the afternoon Joanna, one the Jon-Daniel’s primary school friends’ Mom, popped in for a visit.  It was touching when she spoke with Vic and apologized for coming to visit too late.  Vic was sleeping and not aware of the visit.  Joanna left with tears streaming down her cheeks.  She left a little gift for Vic

“I wrote your name in the sand
But the waves blew it away
Then I wrote it in the sky
But the wind blew it away
So I wrote it in my heart
And that’s where it will stay.”

 Siza arrived and told me that Sue would be in tomorrow morning to assess Vic.  She said Vic’s colour is very poor and the circulation in her legs bad.  Siza is of the opinion that the most humane thing to do for Vic would be to sedate her…  Her body is building up so much adrenalin fighting death that it is preventing her from dying – despite the organ failure.

I am torn.  My poor child’s anguish and pain sears through every nerve ending in my body.  Not only mine but also the rest of the family’s…..I want the emotional side of her journey to end.  But when I think that I will never hear her voice again, that I will never hear her cry and plead again… I want to die.  Sedation can end her emotional anguish, but deprive us of last words.

When I walked into Vic’s room after Sr Siza left Vic said “I just saw Dries.  He came to visit.  I have thought of him the whole day….”

Dries is a dear family friend who died last year…

In the evening Judy (Dries’ widow) popped around for a visit.  When I told her that Vic had seen Dries she burst into tears.  She said, her sister Lida, a deeply religious woman, told her earlier in the day that she had dreamt of Dries and that Dries was going to come and “fetch” Vic…

I pointed out to Judy that Dries, who was a tour guide by profession, would take Vic on the scenic route…

We laughed.

Later in the evening Bella, one of the ministers in my Church, and James, the senior elder, came to visit.  Bella, a dear friend over the years, spoke to the boys with so much compassion.  He grew up in a home with a mother who was ill.  He said that the congregation has never stopped praying for us as a family.  He said the congregation carries us in their hearts.  (One day I will still blog about Bella and his amazing ability to “pray Vic out of the claws of death”…)

We all stood holding hands around Vic’s bed whilst Bella said a beautiful prayer for Vic and the family.  Someone stifled a little sob.  There was absolute peace and a Godly presence in Vic’s room.

Related posts:

Rest in peace dear friend    https://tersiaburger.com/2012/08/07/rest-in-peace-dear-friend-7-8-2012/

For some dying is hard work   https://tersiaburger.com/2012/07/18/487/

Quiet waters of peace


Lead me to the quiet waters of peace
Lead me to the quiet waters of peace

Vic is very restless and agitated.  Hospice says that at this stage they normally sedate the patients to make the passing easier.  It would be a wonderful solution.  Vic’s mind is mostly crystal clear and busier than ever.  She continuously asks for photos to be taken, not necessarily of herself but of the boys, her friends and family.  Last night I actually said to her (after her insisting on photos being taken of me – on my own) “Sweetie, you cannot take your cell phone to heaven with you.”

“Oh…” she said.  “Why not?  I think I will…”

We laughed.

In her desperate attempts to cling to life she is trying to capture images on her phone…I do know that she is imbedding the images on her heart and she will take the images of her loved ones with her.

Last night was very difficult.  The Pethidine makes her hyper.  She fights sleep at night!  Vic is scared she will close her eyes and never open them again.

Vic clung to Danie’s hands when he came to say goodnight.  “Don’t leave me Daddy!  Please don’t leave me!!!  I am so scared!” Poor Danie was totally distraught!

“I am so tired” Vic cries and seconds later she will try and get out of bed, so she can stay awake!

In the early hours of the morning I was exhausted when I eventually got inpatient with Vic and told her to get into bed.  She looked at me and said “I sometimes think you love me to death but other times I think you hate me…”

I know she is confused at times.  I will not allow these words to haunt me later.  She “sees” people.  She babbles non-stop.

The weight is falling off her.  Her trembling fingers are bony, almost skeleton like.  Her eyes are sunken and reflect her pain and anguish.  My poor baby is starving to death!  She has absolutely no appetite.  I don’t know when last she was hungry or able to eat.

Esther and Leon came to visit today.  Esther was very emotional when she saw Vic.  I know she said her goodbyes today.  I could see that they had spoken to their boys.  Both Henk and Yuri kissed Vic whilst she was sleeping.

Jared asked me today why I don’t sedate Vic.  I explained to him that she refuses to be sedated.  “I think it will be better for Mom to sleep all the time now Oumie.  It is too hard for her now and she is too scared…Ask Sr Siza to give her some sedation…”

Oh Lord how do I make this easier for my family?  How do I spare the boys the pain of seeing their mother dying bit by bit?  Do I send them to their father and have them hate me for it or do I subject them to the horror of what’s happening?

I wish Vic was in a hospital where the decisions weren’t mine.  But I promised Vic “no more hospitals”.  I will never go back on my word.

I am babbling.

Vic is very restless and agitated.  Hospice says that at this stage they normally sedate the patients to make the passing easier.  It would be a wonderful solution.  Vic’s mind is mostly crystal clear and busier than ever.  She continuously asks for photos to be taken, not necessarily of herself but of the boys, her friends and family.  Last night I actually said to her (after her insisting on photos being taken of me – on my own) “Sweetie, you cannot take your cell phone to heaven with you.”

“Oh…” she said.  “Why not?  I think I will…”

We laughed.

In her desperate attempts to cling to life she is trying to capture images on her phone…I do know that she is imbedding the images on her heart and she will take the images of her loved ones with her.

Last night was very difficult.  The Pethidine makes her hyper.  She fights sleep at night!  Vic is scared she will close her eyes and never open them again.

Vic clung to Danie’s hands when he came to say goodnight.  “Don’t leave me Daddy!  Please don’t leave me!!!  I am so scared!” Poor Danie was totally distraught!

“I am so tired” Vic cries and seconds later she will try to get out of bed so she can stay awake!

In the early hours of the morning I was exhausted when I eventually got inpatient with Vic and told her to get into bed.  She looked at me and said “I sometimes think you love me to death but other times I think you hate me…”

I know she is confused at times.  I will not allow these words to haunt me later.  She “sees” people.  She babbles non-stop.

The weight is falling off her.  Her trembling fingers are bony, almost skeleton like.  Her eyes are sunken and reflect her pain and anguish.  My poor baby is starving to death!  She has absolutely no appetite.  I don’t know when last she was hungry or able to eat.

Esther and Leon came to visit today.  Esther was very emotional when she saw Vic.  I know she said her goodbyes today.  I could see that they had spoken to their boys.  Both Henk and Yuri kissed Vic whilst she was sleeping.

Jared asked me today why I don’t sedate Vic.  I explained to him that she refuses to be sedated.  “I think it will be better for Mom to sleep all the time now Oumie.  It is too hard for her now and she is too scared…Ask Sr Siza to give her some sedation…”

Oh Lord how do I make this easier for my family?  How do I spare the boys the pain of seeing their mother dying bit by bit?  Do I send them to their father and have them hate me for it or do I subject them to the horror of what’s happening?

I wish Vic was in a hospital where the decisions weren’t mine.  But I promised Vic “no more hospitals”.  I will never go back on my word.

I am babbling.

” Sometimes the pain’s too strong to bear…and life gets so hard you just don’t care.  You feel so alone you just sit and cry…every second you wish you could die.”  

 

 

Valley of Death


January 2013.  Today was a special day.

Boys lying with Vic before Chris' arrival
Boys lying with Vic before Chris’ arrival

Yesterday Vic asked me to contact her minister.  Chris arrived at our home at 9.30am.  We all sat in Vic’s room whilst Chris read Psalm 23 and prayed for Vic who was walking through the “valley of death.” She prayed for Vic to find peace and acceptance of her situation.

Chris then served Holy Communion.  Vic, at first, did not want Jon-Daniel to partake in the Communion.  Chris explained that a child having to be confirmed before they are allowed to partake in Communion is a man-made rule.  I pointed out to Vic that it would be very special if Jon-Daniel could have his first Communion with her… Vic agreed.

Chris ministering to Vic
Chris ministering to Vic

It was so special.

I was filled with deep gratitude that we as a family have the opportunity of making memories every day. Today I am particularly grateful that Jon-Daniel will always carry the memory of his first Holy Communion with him.  Even if his mom does not attend his confirmation he will remember that he took his first Holy Communion with her.

Vic and Jon-Daniel after taking Communion
Vic and Jon-Daniel after taking Communion

For the first time in a long time I was grateful for Vic lingering death.  I am grateful that Jared had the opportunity to tell her that she is a legend and that she will always live on in so many people’s minds and hearts.  That Stepping Stone Hospice is her legacy….

 

Jared and his Mom
Jared and his Mom

Dying isn’t a science. There is no methodical process of coming to terms with death.  The reality of what is busy happening to Vic is frightening and overwhelming.  Earlier this week, when I gave one of the boys permission to go out, Vic said “See Mommy, this is why I cannot die.  I don’t know if you will be strict enough with the boys…”

Vic is desperately clinging to life.  Vic is afraid of losing control of her bodily functions and becoming a burden to us.  Vic is afraid of the act of dying.

The rest of us are scared because we want her suffering to end.  We know we will experience terrible guilt afterwards… Even as I am typing I KNOW I will second guess everything I did for Vic and every decision I ever made regarding her medical care.  This is just the way it is…

Angela and Tracey visited today.  The visits are so exhausting for Vic and yet she did not want them  to leave.  Every time they say “I must go…” Vic will pout and say “just stay a little longer…”

Vic, Tracey and Angela sharing a laugh
Vic, Tracey and Angela sharing a laugh

The weight is just falling off Vic.  She managed to keep in a mug of diet “Cup of Soup”.  Small mercies!

Lelani picked up the new morphine script from Dr Sue.  She made imprints of the boys’ hands for Vic… She massaged Vic’s little feet.  Jon-Daniel and I swam and Jared went with his girlfriend and her parents to a day resort.  Danie picked up the script from the pharmacy and washed his own motorbike.  (First time in 15 years….he always has it done!)

Vic being pampered by her sister Lani
Vic being pampered by her sister Lani

A normal day in the life of a family walking through the valley of death…I don’t want to forget any part of it.

 

VICKY – A WOMAN OF COURAGE!


My beautiful baby girl
My beautiful baby girl
What makes Vic strong?
Her heritage…
 
What makes Vic weak?
Her fears…  
                      
What makes Vic whole?
Her God…
 
What keeps Vic standing?
Her faith…
 
 What makes Vic compassionate?
Her selflessness…
 
What makes Vic honest?
Her integrity…
 
What sustains Vic mind?
Her quest for knowledge…
 
What teaches Vic all lessons?
Her mistakes…
 
What lifts Vic head high?
Her pride…
 
What if she can’t go on?
Not an option…
 
 What makes Vic victorious?
Her courage to climb…
 
What makes Vic competent?
Her confidence…
 
What makes Vic beautiful?
Her everything…
 
What makes Vic a woman?
Her heart…
 
Who says she needs love?
She does…
 
What empowers Vic?
Her God …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

       

 

 

 

 

Tomorrow may be better than yesterday


Photo credit: http://nwwes.deviantart.com/art/Stepping-Stones-of-Memory-216271485
Photo credit: http://nwwes.deviantart.com/art/Stepping-Stones-of-Memory-216271485

Vic is rapidly deteriorating.  Last night the nausea was absolutely relentless.  With no food in her stomach Vic vomited blood.  Old blood and new blood….. Her vitals are very unstable and I thought that she would not survive the night.  I cried and slept in her bed with her.

 

Today Sr Siza tried to put up an IV drip.  Vic has absolutely no veins left that are suitable for a drip.  The sub-cutaneous driver is back up.  At this stage of the game the risk of cellulitis is less than the need for pain and symptom control.  We will reposition the subcutaneous driver as and when we need to.

Dr Sue has prescribed Cyklokapron.  “Tranexamic acid (commonly marketed in tablet form as Lysteda and in IV form as Cyklokapron in the U.S. and Australia and asTransamin,Transcam in Asia, and Espercil in South America. Also marketed as TRAXYL (Nuvista Pharma) in Bangladesh,Cyclo-F and Femstrual in UK.) is a synthetic derivative of the amino acid lysine. It is used to treat or prevent excessive blood loss during surgery and in various other medical conditions. It is an antifibrinolytic that competitively inhibits the activation of plasminogen to plasmin, by binding to specific sites of both plasminogen and plasmin, a molecule responsible for the degradation of fibrin. Fibrin is a protein that forms the framework of blood clots. It has roughly eight times the antifibrinolytic activity of an older analogue, ε-aminocaproic acid.”  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tranexamic_acid

She suggested that Vic be admitted to hospital.  Vic refused.

On the 1st of January 2013 Stepping Stone Hospice and Palliative Care started operating.  It is pretty ironic that Vic may well be our first death.

But then again, tomorrow may be better than yesterday….Today was better than last night.

 

 

 

 

 

“Sisters by Heart”


Vic lost the Christmas gift she bought Esther. It is not the first time this has happened – Vic previously bought Esther a “Sister” fridge magnet and mislaid it somewhere…

Vic has spent a lot of time sorting out some last things – double checking her insurance policies, photo albums, writing cards for the boys to be read on the first Christmas, first anniversary, final school exam…  She has been going tick, tick, tick…Oops Outstanding item: Esther’s gift!

I have searched the house and not found the sentimental nick-nacks Vic bought Esther for Christmas.  I have driven around and looked for replacement gifts, but to no avail.  So yesterday Vic said to Esther “Sis, I have to replace your Christmas gift…  I cannot move on before I do that…Mommy is taking me to Eastgate tomorrow.  I know I will find it there.”

Esther, who has a superb sense of humour, said “I won’t let you die before I get my present…What time are we leaving tomorrow?”

Early this morning Vic was dressed and ready for the excursion.  At about 11am we set off shopping (after a hefty pain and nausea injection…) At the second shop we struck gold!  (I actually found the gift she was looking for.)  Vic had the salesperson wrap it with Christmas gift wrap.   She is a stickler for “attention to detail”

Mission accomplished we went to a restaurant for lunch.  As usual Vic agonised over the menu.  She wanted a salmon dish with cream cheese – No salmon…. Arghhh!  She settled for a sandwich and coffee.

The gift Vic bought was a Willow Tree figurine set of two girls holding hands.  “Just like we lay and chatted last night Sis…”

Sisters by Heart

Celebrating a treasured friendship of sharing and understanding

 “I’m very close to my sisters, and the friendship and support of other women has always enriched my life. I also realize that there are friends or other relatives that may not be blood sisters, but share this same type of closeness.”

 

Vic and Esther are step sisters.  There is no blood bond, but they are bound by their deep love for one another.  Esther has been an absolute pillar of strength to Vic and the rest of the family.  Daily Esther sends Vic beautiful text messages.  She brings Vic flowers from her garden.  She lies next to Vic and listens to her babbling.   Esther is the sister Vic never had.

Needless to say, Vic did not handle her lunch well and after a visit to the toilet we left.  I could see her heart beating like crazy in her neck.  People looked at us as far as we walked.  I realized with a shock that it is because Vic obviously looks ill and shuffles like an old person.  I look at her and I only see a beautiful young woman; my baby girl and the mother of my grandsons.

Vic is having a strange day… Her blood pressure is all over; her heart races and then slows down.

“Something is wrong mommy.”

This evening Vic double checked with me whether I remembered which hymns had to be sung at her memorial service.  She cried when she (again) named her pallbearers.  “Please don’t let me lie in a refrigerator for a long time Mommy…Let them cremate me as quickly as possible”

Vic asked that I get her minister to come and administer Holy Communion to her this week.

The whole situation is so surreal.  I find it impossible to believe that Vic may actually be dying.    She is so beautiful and her mind is crystal clear!  I think Vic is just caught up in the Hospice talk.  Maybe I am in denial.  She has not vomited blood for two days.  That is a good sign.  Google says her heart rate can go up to 250 and Vic’s HR is only at 120 and occasionally at 155.

Oh dear God please grant my child peace.  Please grant us all peace.

Sisters holding hands
Sisters holding hands

Celebrating a treasured friendship of sharing and understanding

"Sisters by Heart"
“Sisters by Heart”