Posted in A Mother's Grief, Bereavement, Death, Death of a child, Grief

Ebb and flow of grief…


How do we deal with life’s losses and move forward? People far wiser than I am, said that we never do get back to normal. That a time of numbness, confusion and uncertainty eventually merges into a new “normal”.

I am often filled with profound sadness over what will never be. Vic will never see her boys graduate.  She will never have that mother and son dance at their weddings.  She will never know the joy of being a grandparent.

Jared and I were chatting the other evening and he said “Most of the time I bury my sorrow.  I try not to think how much I miss Mummy.  But sometimes when I lie in bed the tears just start…”

I told him how guilty I feel because at first, in a perverse way, I enjoyed the freedom of snap decisions to go away for a weekend or dinner without having to make elaborate plans for Vic’s care.

The house is too big … too empty … too quiet.  How can one tiny little person leave such a humongous void?

Are we moving forward?  Yes, I believe we are.  We are healing very slowly. We are functioning well in the “other” world.  That world that has no understanding of our world.  The boys are both excelling in their studies.  They have lovely friends.  They have good lives.  But, they do not have their Mummy.  It breaks my heart thinking how deprived they are of maturing under the loving care of their mother.

I read once that healing is a journey, not a destination or a point in time. I know we are scarred.  When we light candles for my beautiful baby girl I know that grief will remain a part of our lives forever. But we will go with the ebb and flow of our grief – it is part of our journeys.

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Navigating the Ebb and Flow of Grief     Posted on June 28, 2013 by Maria Kubitz

Grief is fickle. Unpredictable. And indifferent to whatever mood I’m in. Most days my grief lies dormant under the activities of everyday life. Little triggers will continually remind me its there. A sad news story on the TV. A girl at the park who reminds me of my daughter. But I can go about my regular routines with no interruptions. Other times, the triggers are bigger, and the grief bubbles up and takes over my mood. Tears well up behind my eyes, ready to release at the first opportunity. My patience seems to evaporate and everyday tasks become cumbersome, meaningless, and even difficult. Usually the bursts of grief from larger triggers only last a few hours or at most a few days.

But sometimes it lingers and grows.

What I didn’t expect is that even coming on four years after her death, I still find myself in situations where grief becomes so overwhelming again that it feels like I’ve gone right back to the debilitating early days of grief. Feelings of sadness, pain, lethargy, dis-interest in things I normally enjoy. Going to work becomes a struggle. Even taking care of my kids feels like a burden. I know these periods require extra attention and care, and I navigate through the best I can, asking for support along the way. I just wonder if these episodes will ease over time, or if I should just expect them to become a permanent fixture of my “new normal” life?

If the death of my daughter has taught me anything — and it has taught me A LOT — it has taught me that we have more inner strength than we can ever imagine, and that with time, attention, and support, we can navigate through just about anything life might throw at us.

Posted in A Mother's Grief, Bereavement, Death, Death of a child, Grief, Hospice, Terminal Illness, Vicky Bruce

Unimaginable pain


When my beautiful little girl exhaled her last breath, it felt as if my heart was ripped into a million pieces.

One year and 5 months have passed and my heart is still in a million pieces.  But, the pain is no longer that same raw pain.  Sometimes it is a sharp, searing pain; sometimes a dull heartbreaking pain.  At times I feel so alone, numb and at other times I am convinced that I will lose my mind with grief.

But, the pain is more “refined”.  It is no longer that raw, unbearable pain.

There are times that I feel that my nerve endings are exploding.  And yet, there any many things I can no longer remember.  I read today that it is my body is protecting me… I am grateful for it.  I am glad that I have forgotten some of the horror of Vic’s death.  I am clinging to the good days.

I went away with two friends last weekend.  It was amazing.  We laughed until we cried, we spoke about the death of our loved ones, we loved and supported one another.  The empathy stemmed from knowledge.

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On our first night in the mountains I dreamt of maggots.  There were maggots everywhere.  I tried to kill them, but they kept crawling out of everywhere.  I was scared and nauseous.  I am petrified of maggots!

To see maggots in your dream represent your anxieties about death. It may also be indicative of some issue or problem that you have been rejecting and it is now “eating away” at you. You need to confront it for it is destroying your sense of harmony and balance.

Maggots as true to their characters signify similar emotions in real life if appear in dreams. The strongest emotion the maggots dreamer having is the fear of its own death. You can say it as fear or curiosity related to death but the persistent thought of death can be the result of such type of dreams. Maggots in dream also signify that the person is far away from mental and spiritual peace which can prove harmful for him in many ways.
More:http://www.gotohoroscope.com/txt/dream-interpretation-maggots.html

A very common dream of maggots is to see them gathered around you and you are trying to remove them as quickly as possible. This you are trying to do with vacuum cleaner or burner or chemicals. All the dreams suggest the need of your brain to be free from nay complications and guilt. Your attempt to kill them shows that you want to bring thing back in order. This also means that you are facing some troubles in life and standing on your grounds to let it pass
More:http://www.gotohoroscope.com/txt/dream-interpretation-maggots.html

So, which one is it?

I do not fear death.  I fear dying in pain and indignity.  I fear being a burden to my loved ones.

I have often said that when I am dying I want to be dropped off at a hospice.  My loved ones must kiss me goodbye and leave.  I do not want them standing next to my bed watching me gasp for breath… I want a big sign put up above my bed that must read “Do not touch”.

I am facing difficulties in life.  So much has changed in the past 516 days.  I have lost more than my child.  I have lost being a mother.  I lost my best friend.  We lost our laughter… Judy reminisced this weekend about how Vic and the boys would laugh at night when they said goodnight.  I have lost others that I love because our pain collided.

Yet I am alive.  My life goes on despite the terrible void that Vic’s death left.  The boys are so amazing.  Soon Jared will attend his Matric farewell. Next year he will go to university… firsts that his mom will not be part of…I can just imagine the excitement if Vic had been around.

When you lose a child you get caught up in a maelström of grief.  The firsts never end.  Every morning the pain starts all over again.  The grieving never ends.

At a funeral I attended today the minister said “Grieve hard”.

I do.

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Posted in A Mother's Grief, Angels, Death, Death of a child, Grief, Grief Poetry, Religion in my world, Terminal Illness, Vicky Bruce

If tomorrow starts without me


This played just before Vic’s memorial service started.  A deadly silence descended in the church as we all sat crying for this precious child of mine.  I listen to this often.  I still cry when I hear the words that Vic could have spoken.  How I miss my precious child.

If tomorrow starts without me,
And I’m not there to see,
If the sun should rise and find your eyes
All filled with tears for me;
I wish so much you wouldn’t cry the way you did today,
While thinking of the many things, we didn’t get to say.
I know how much you love me,
As much as I love you,
And each time that you think of me,
I know you’ll miss me too;
But when tomorrow starts without me,
Please try to understand,
That an angel came and called my name,
And took me by the hand,
And said my place was ready,
In heaven far above,
And that I’d have to leave behind;
All those I dearly love.
But as I turned to walk away,
A tear fell from my eye
For all my life, I’d always thought,
I didn’t want to die.
I had so much to live for, So much left yet to do,
It seemed almost impossible,
That I was leaving you.
I thought of all the yesterdays,
The good ones and the bad,
I thought of all the love we shared,
And all the fun we had.
If I could relive yesterday,
Just even for a while,
I’d say good-bye and kiss you
And maybe see you smile.
But then I fully realized,
That this could never be,
For emptiness and memories,
Would take the place of me.
And when I thought of worldly things,
I might miss come tomorrow,
I thought of you, and when I did,
My heart was filled with sorrow.
But when I walked through heaven’s gates,
I felt so much at home.
When God looked down and smiled at me,
From His great golden throne,
He said, “This is eternity, And all I’ve promised you.”
Today your life on earth is past,
But here life starts anew.
I promise no tomorrow, But today will always last,
And since each day’s the same way,
There’s no longing for the past.
You have been so faithful, So trusting and so true.
Though there were times you did some things,
You knew you shouldn’t do.
But you have been forgiven, And now at last you’re free.
So won’t you come and take my hand, And share my life with me?
So when tomorrow starts without me, Don’t think we’re far apart,
For every time you think of me, I’m right here, in your heart.

Jared♡ĶįƦƧƳ.Ș♡(1)

Posted in Angels, Bereavement, Death, Death of a child, Grief, Hospice, Palliative Care

16 months of Hospice and two special angels in Heaven


In the early hours of my Dad’s 3rd anniversary I feel compelled to give some feedback on Stepping Stone Hospice.

Sixteen months ago, with unbelievable arrogance we started Stepping Stone Hospice. What a journey it has been. We started working from my home with a registered palliative care sister, a wheelchair and very little else.

Sixteen months later we have not only moved into a lovely building but we have increased our In-Patient-Unit for 4 beds, we employ 2 nurses, a staff nurse and a team of 13 palliative trained caseworkers. We have plans to extend the building so we can increase the In-Patient-Unit to 10 beds. Every piece of furniture and equipment was donated by the community and to date we have not asked anyone for a single cent. There have been months where we had to pay the nursing staff from our own pockets, but we have never turned away a patient.

We have received beautiful letters of gratitude, established a memorial rose garden and a reputation as a great Hospice.

I am in total awe of the phenomenal nursing staff who go beyond the call of duty. They will go and sit with a family and their dying loved one at 3am in the morning… On Saturdays and Sundays they interrupt their lives to care for the destitute dying in our community.

We have an amazing group of volunteer caregivers who sacrifice their time to guide the families through the final stages of their loved ones journeys. We cry with the families, hold their hands and sing for the dying.

I am so grateful for this amazing organisation and everyone who is involved with it. I am grateful that Vic’s legacy has made a difference to other end-stage Alzheimer patients. I remember my precious father who fought with every fibre of his body to hold onto his memories, his mind, his family….

IMG_7742            SteppingStoneLogoSmall (2)

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Posted in A Mother's Grief, Death, Family, Grief Poetry

Alzheimer’s Patient’s Prayer


By Carolyn Haynali

Wow we actually look quite alike

Pray for me I was once like you.
Be kind and loving to me that’s how I would have treated you.
Remember I was once someone’s parent or spouse I had a life and a
dream for the future.

Speak to me, I can hear you even if I don’t understand
what you are saying. Speak to me of things in my past of
which I can still relate.

Be considerate of me, my days are such a struggle.
Think of my feelings because I still have them and can feel pain.
Treat me with respect because I would have treated you that way.
Think of how I was before I got Alzheimer’s; I was full of life,
I had a life, laughed and loved you.

Think of how I am now, My disease distorts my thinking, my
feelings, and my ability to respond, but I still love you even if I can’t tell you.
Think about my future because I used too.

Remember I was full of hope for the future just like you are now.
Think how it would be to have things locked in your mind and
can’t let them out. I need you to understand and not blame me,
but Alzheimer’s.

I still need the compassion and the touching and most of all I
still need you to love me.

Keep me in your prayers because I am between life and death.
The love you give will be a blessing from God and both of us will
live forever.

How you live and what you do today will always be remembered
in the heart of the Alzheimer’s Patient.

http://www.alzheimers.net/2013-08-20/poem-alzheimers-patients-prayer/

Rest in peace Daddy

Posted in A Mother's Grief, Death, Death of a child, Grief, Osteogenesis Imperfecta, Palliative Care, Terminal Illness

486 days…


486 days; 1 year, 4 months; 69 weeks….

Oh dear God, will this pain never stop? Will my heart ever heal? Will I ever be able to look at a photograph without tears welling up in my eyes? No matter where I am or who I am with – I miss my precious Angel Child.

I know your pain is over. Remember the night you crawled into bed with me and I told you that I looked forward to your pain being over? Did you know that night how many tears I would shed for you? Did you know that my life would change forever?

Yes, I know you did. Your words echo through my mind…”Mommy, I am so worried about you. How will you cope when I am gone?”

My stock standard reply was “I will cope baby. I will remember your pain and be glad that it is over”. How stupid of me.

As time goes by I forget how sick you were my precious little one.

Then I look through my photos. I see your pain. I see death in your beautiful eyes.

You knew how hard it would be. In your infinite wisdom you tried to prepare me. You tried to prepare the boys… Sweetie, nobody or nothing in the world could have prepared me for the pain, the loneliness, the void…

Sometimes I wonder how many days it will be until we meet again. I pray it is soon. This is just too hard.

Posted in A Mother's Grief, Bereavement, Death, Death of a child, Grief, Vicky Bruce

Time heals as the season changes


New emotions are raw and intense. Think back to when you fell in love for the first time – the butterflies, the beauty in everything….. Colours were more vibrant and life soared through your veins. In a new love we are more forgiving, nicer, gentler… One’s whole life revolves around the other person.

As time marches on, the balance is restored. We settle down to realising that nothing and nobody is perfect and/or everlasting. Sadly life forces the big picture back into our lives, our minds, our vision….

It is the same with grief.

Time heals as the seasons change. Reason does not heal.

When Vic died my entire existence was filled with pain, tears and longing. There was guilt and self-recrimination. It used to echo through my mind “what could I have done different?”  Madness lurked in my mind.

Four hundred and seventy-four days later I still grieve. I still cry. I still feel as if I am losing my mind at times…

The intensity that I experienced immediately after Vic’s death has started diminishing and become softer, gentler… I often sit with a gentle smile on my face remembering Vic as a cute baby, a funny toddler, a difficult teenager and a precious friend, daughter and mother of my grandchildren. I page through old photos and sometimes I laugh out loud at the memories.

Life has started re-emerging. My grief is not less – I have just become used to it. My grief has settled into my heart as snugly as old slippers settle around tired feet. I have grown accustomed to the void in my life.

Heartache has become a part of my life. I feel the sadness in my eyes and smile. Yet I have learnt to laugh again.

Life has gone on… The seasons are changing – again…..

 

 

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Posted in A Mother's Grief, Angels, Death, Death of a child, Grief Poetry, Vicky Bruce

I saw your teardrops fall


I saw your tear drops fall
I heard you cry my name
Mommy I love you                                                                                                                          As I released you from your pain

I watched as you lay in your bed
fearful of the end
I heard your whispered words
as you prayed for release from pain

every day for you was painful
each breath, each step you took
but filled with sadness I knew
your life was at an end

I held you with all my love
as I always used to do                                                                                                                     it was hard to see you in such pain                                                                                              as life slowly ebbed out of you

although our lives journeys
have bid us to be apart
I am with you, you are with me
you are always in my heart                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Love always

Mommy

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Posted in A Mother's Grief, Death, Death of a child, Grief, Grief Poetry, Vicky Bruce

Mother Daughter Poem


My words of love to my precious Vic

Precious Gift (Amended to suit)  © Sherri Lawrence

When times seemed too hard to bear and I felt like giving up
I visioned your beautiful face, the twinkle of your eyes and things of such
The bond we created from my womb to the day you were born
Is a mother and daughter bond that can never be torn
With the strength and guidance of God and the blessings he pours down from above
I wanted to be the best mom I could to you and embrace you with all my love
You were as precious as a flower and as gorgeous as a rose
You were specially made to the very tip of your nose
You were as sweet as honey; such an innocent young child
You were brighter than any star in the sky every time you smiled
I wanted you to be proud of who you are and strive to be the best
Put forth your efforts to achieve your goals and let God do the rest
I will always be your mother first, but I was also your friend
You are the most precious gift, that I’ve ever been given

With All My Love,

Mommy

Mommy

 

Source: http://www.familyfriendpoems.com/poem/precious-gift-2#ixzz2xg47iqJ2
Family Friend Poems

Posted in A Mother's Grief, Angels, Death, Death of a child, Hospice, Palliative Care

How to die


People live as they die.

If they constantly worried about their health and each and every little pain and symptom in life, they will worry until the end. If people were unconcerned about their health in life they will be slack in seeking help and treatment. If they were bad-tempered and impatient in life, they will die impatient and bad-tempered. Gentle people die gentle deaths.  (I am excluding violent deaths from the statement above.)

In Hospice I am amazed to see with how much stoic dignity some people die. Many of my acquaintances have died in the past 14 months under our care. People that I knew were dignified, in life, died peaceful dignified deaths. Up to the end they will say “please” and “thank-you.” I have witnessed, and experienced people hold onto life with every fibre in their bodies (as did Vic). I have also seen people “decide” to die. We see it in their eyes. Death is a decision.

Dying is not a two-minute thing… some people die slowly over many days. In these slow, lingering days it is our job to keep the dying pain and symptom free. Comfortable surrounded by their loved ones.

In a perfect world people die at Hospices surrounded by their loved ones – in theory that works, only in theory.

Many people are dropped off at the In-Patient-Unit and as soon as it is “decent” the family will leave to rest… Some don’t return. Some do after many phone calls updating them of the gravity of their loved ones condition. Some will pop in for the final moments. Some don’t. Some stay. They enfold their loved one with compassion and love, complementing us in our job. Some people die with their loved ones united in prayer; others die with the family singing gentle songs. Some die telling their loved ones to f… off…..

I have come to the conclusion that people without a spiritual and/or religious base die bad deaths. They swear at their families and the world until their final day… They worry about their new cars; a business deal – some have alcohol sneaked into the IPU. They deliberately remove their diapers and urinate on the sheets; one even defecated on his sheets defiantly grinning at the staff. A final “f— you” act. No, he was fully conscious of his actions and the effect that it has on those caring for him. He was dying from cancer not Alzheimer’s.

Seeing someone die is quite amazing. It is a beautiful experience witnessing the soul leave the body. There can be no doubt that there is life hereafter.

A young woman died in the IPU. She lingered for 8 days. Finally only her mom was left next to her bed gently whispering words of love and encouragement. After she died we prepared her cancer ravished little body for collection by the undertakers. When they arrived I escorted them to her room. She lay there with an angelic smile on her face. I called her mom and said “you have to see this…” When her mom had left her side it was just a tiny little bag of bones that lay there. When her mom next saw her she had this peaceful, angelic smile on her face. Truly a message for heaven for her grief-stricken mother.

I hope that I will be stoic and brave in death. That fear of the “Great Beyond” will not overwhelm me. I hope that I will be dignified and brave in death. I am such a ninny in life.

Posted in A Mother's Grief, Angels, Death, Death of a child, Grief, Grief Poetry, Terminal Illness, Vicky Bruce

I Remember Vic


In the rising of the sun and in its going down, I remember her.
In the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter, I remember her.
In the opening of the buds and in the rebirth of spring, I remember her.
In the blueness of the sky and in the warmth of summer, I remember her.
In the rustling of the leaves and in the beauty of autumn, I remember her.
In the beginning of the year and when it ends, I remember her.
When I am weary and in need of strength, I remember her.
When I am lost and sick at heart, I remember her.
When I have joys I yearn to share, I remember her.
So long as I live, Vic too shall live,
For Vic is a part of me, As I remember her.

I amended the words of this poem written by Rabbis Sylvan Kamens and Jack Riemer from Gates of Prayer, R.B. Gittelsohn

Kempton Park-20120914-00933  Gillian(3)  030114_1211_SteppingSto2.jpg

Posted in A Mother's Grief, Angels, Death, Death of a child, Grief, Hospice, Palliative Care, Terminal Illness, Vicky Bruce

Stepping Stone’s first death


Vic was the first Stepping Stone Hospice death.

I was clearing up some filing at the office when I came across Vic’s case notes. Tears ran down my cheeks when I read the observation of the Hospice nurse…

21.11.2012:-    Pt gradually getting weak but stable. Pain controlled and up and about

20.12.2012:-    Very weak but stable. Pain controlled

3.1.2013    Pt experiencing obstruction. Started on SD (Syringe Driver). Buscopan, Zantac, morphine over 24 hours. Prognosis short

8.1.2013    Pt seen by Dr Sue, very weak. Actively dying. Not eating or drinking. Vomiting much better. Pt still responsive even in deep sleep. Continue SD

11.1.2013    Pt terminally weak but stable on SD. Actively dying. Family up to speed with progress

18.1.2013    Pt R.I.P this am. Peaceful and comfortable at home

Vic’s suffering had been reduced to a couple of lines. A couple of words. No mention of her vomiting blood or did I forget to mention it to the nurse? No mention of her being unable to breathe because of the pain. “Pain controlled”…

The pain of Vic’s death is as fresh as it was a year, a month and 11 days ago.

We have now lived many Hospice deaths. Some have been friends, some strangers that became friends and some strangers that remained strangers. I feel the pain of the mothers whose daughters died in the In-Patient-Unit. I held them and comforted them, but I could not take their pain away. I tried to prepare them for the emptiness that would follow the funeral…the guilt, the anger, the loneliness.

I know that our Nursing Sisters are compassionate and caring. I know that I would want to die in the Unit. I know the staff will light candles to shield me from the harsh fluorescent light…. I hope that Lorraine Msini will softly sing Amazing Grace as I end my journey on earth. I have truly learnt that death is not the enemy. Living is.

I no longer cry for those who are dying. I cry for the ones who are left behind. I cry for the emptiness I have seen in mothers eyes… the raw, undiluted pain… I know that when I see them in a few months’ time they would have learnt to mask that raw, undiluted pain and emptiness in their eyes.

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Posted in Angels, Bereavement, Death, Death of a child, Grief

Tom Attwater Is Dying. His Daughter Might Die, Too. The Letter He Left For Her Is Unforgettable.


I found this on Len Carver’s Kindness Blog.  This is about a brave young man fighting to keep his daughter alive.  Please repost!  If you can please donate to his worthy cause.  Posted on February 12, 2014 by Kindnessblog Smith

Tom Attwater is dying of a brain tumor, but he isn’t worried about his cancer. Instead, he is trying to save his 5 year-old daughter from her own.

tom attwater

Tom Attwater with daughter Kelli and wife Joely

He has vowed to raise approximately $820,200.00 for her cancer treatment, even if he wouldn’t be around to see her go through it.

Now Tom is almost half way to his fundraising target he is more adamant than ever to reach it. Tragically his deadline is short as his latest scans show his brain tumour is growing.

He says: “These days people make bucket lists, and the very top of mine – the one that matters most – is raising money to make sure Kelli gets the medical help she might need.

Tom attwater

“Some people have advised me to slow down and concentrate on enjoying the rest of my days. But how can I knowing Kelli’s bright life might be cut short?

“Fundraising is a lot of hard work, especially on days when I feel too poorly to get out of bed. But I honestly feel I can’t relax until I know Kelli can have the best chance of a long and full life. I’ve run out of chances, luck and time but have had a wonderful life. So if I drop dead tomorrow, I know I will have done my best for Kelli.”

Tom and Kelli Attwater

Kelli is only 5 years-old, but she has already beat the disease twice. She is likely to relapse and need treatment in the United States, so Tom is dedicated to leaving a legacy behind for her, as well as this touching letter. Read it below:

Darling Kelli,

I’m so sorry I will not get to see you grow up as I so want to. Please don’t blame people or the world for this. A lot of life is simply luck and mine is running out.

I wish I had the words to make you feel better. I wish I didn’t have cancer and you didn’t have to see me in pain as you often do now. I wish so many things were different but they are not.

Most dads and daughters have decades to chat around the kitchen table, their hands warmed by mugs of coffee, as the dad dishes out advice and their girls no doubt roll their eyes. We don’t have that time. I won’t be able to drop you off on your first day at big school, pick you up after your first date, hold you when your heart hurts or cheer when you graduate.

But while your old dad is still around I thought I’d try to give you some life advice in one go. I hope it gives you some comfort. I hope cancer never returns so that your life is long, fulfilled and happy.

School Everyone will say it’s vital to work hard at school. Hopefully you’ll always do your best. I did well at school but did it do me much good in life? Not really. School work IS important, but make sure you have fun too.

Boys At the moment you don’t make much distinction between girls and boys and see all children as friends. That’s typical of your sweet nature. But Kel, that will change as you get older. You might see them as stinky, pesky classmates in a few years’ time. But, probably at secondary school, you’ll realise they can be quite nice.

You’ll have boyfriends when you’re older – MUCH older hopefully! – and I won’t be here to grill them about their intentions. So here’s some advice from your old man. It’s very hard to describe how it feels to really be in love. You might remember seeing me and your mum laughing together and cuddling on the sofa, and once the love hearts and flowers fade that’s what real love looks like. Have fun finding it.

Always choose boys with gen­tlemanly values, manners and respect. Imag­ine them having tea and a chat with our family around our table and if you think they’ll fit in, you have found a decent young man.

Sadly, you will have your heart broken one day. It hurts like hell and will feel like the end of the world. But you will get over it. And even if a romance doesn’t work out, try to be kind. Boys have feelings too. Lastly, if you have a special boy pal who is always there for you when boyfriends come and go, don’t take him for granted. Don’t overlook him. He might really care for you.

Marriage I often dreamt about your wedding day and imagined filling up with tears as I walked you down the aisle before giving you away. I won’t be able to do that Kelli. Sorry sweetheart. But I will be looking over your shoulder on that day, proud and happy you have found a special someone to love you and care for you.

I wonder if you will play what you call “the family song” (which is really I’ll Be There by The Jackson 5). It meant so much to me and my brother and sister growing up, and I know it does to you too. I’ll be there on your wedding day in spirit.

Mummy You and your mum will argue at times, especially when you’re a teenager. Please remember she adores you and wants the best for you. Give Mummy a hug when she is feeling sad and help each other get through any horrible times when I am gone. When you’re a teenager you might think your friends are right and your mum is wrong. But she has to make hard decisions for you and, more than any friend you’ll ever have, has your interests at heart. Treat her well.

Family Nothing is more important than family and the values they give us. Nothing.

Friends Treat people as they treat you. Be nice to anyone who helps you, always. Bullying is horrible – never become one.

Christmas & birthdays On your first Christmas without me, I’d love if you and Mummy would light a candle and remember me for a few minutes. It would be great if you two did the monkey dance together. Jumping around shaking our bottoms always made us laugh. That’s something to make me smile from up above. I’d also love if you visit my parents on Boxing Day. They will be hurting too.

I’ve given Nanny Sue presents for all your birthdays. I wish I could be there to see you open them. Hopefully you will like everything as it’s hard to imagine you at 10, 15, 20. I wonder if you’ll still like One Direction. I wonder if they’ll still make you dance around the living room.

Career You were two when you told me you wanted to be a “princess astronaut” so you could wear nice dresses and find new planets. You might now realise that’s not possible. But so many things ARE possible for you, darling. Do what makes you happy and that you enjoy. If you do so, life suddenly becomes much, much easier.

You may need to start a few different careers to find the one you enjoy, but so be it. One life, one chance.

Manners Always remember your please and thank-yous. The reason Mummy and I drum manners into you is because they will help you throughout your life. Always be courteous, especially to elders. Never put a knife in your mouth. Remember to write thank-you letters for gifts of kindness as it is always nice to act with grace and gratitude. (And please note that poo jokes are only funny when you are five, you cheeky girl!)

Learn to drive Most dads teach their daughters to drive and usually fall out in the process. Make sure you learn how to drive as soon you can – it opens up the world for you. Also, make sure Mummy doesn’t teach you (just joking, Joely).

Travel abroad It’s a cliche to say travel broadens the mind, but it’s true. See as much of the world as you can. But never on a motorbike (too dangerous).

Be happy You never laugh at 50%: you always laugh at 100%. Your laugh takes over your whole body and is highly infectious. I hope you never lose that. There is no point in asking you not to be sad when I go. I know you will be, princess. And I wish I could be there to wrap my arms around you and snuggle you until you smile again. Remember the Eeyore teddy I bought you from a charity shop? You said you’d keep him safe and cuddle him when you miss me. That’s a great idea. You can feel sad and use it as a driving force throughout your life. Or you can just be sad. You know which one I hope you choose.

Be charitable Please give to charities. Charities have been good to you and I. You’ll probably always remember our trip to Disneyland. But I’ll never forget the sacrifices people made to pay for your healthcare if ever cancer returns. Elderly people sent prayer cards and £10 notes they couldn’t afford. Heads were shaved, miles were run, thousands were raised. All for you. It’s important to pay back. Doing good deeds uplifts the soul. Never forget there are people worse off than you who you can help.

Remember your life motto Always keep trying. You might remember that I taught you to say “giving up is for losers”. I failed a number of times in my life but never gave up. Kelli, never give up.

Believe in yourself In life, many people will say you cannot do things. You make up your mind. Can you? Do you want to? Big challenges involve risks so make smart choices. Those who told me I couldn’t do certain things didn’t want me to do them. If you want something, it is nearly always possible, so do your best. I’m sure there’s a hell of a lot you can achieve!

I know you will make me proud and do something great in my memory. I know you can do it – so let’s start now.

And finally… Thank you for being you, Kelli. Thank you for paying me the biggest compliment of all time by calling me Daddy. Having you as my daughter is the greatest honour of my life. Thank you for teaching me more about love and happiness than any other person.

Enjoy your life. Don’t rush through it. I will be waiting.

All my love, always, to you princess and to Mummy,

Daddy xxxxxxxxxxTom and Kelli AttwaterIf you would like to donate to help save Kelli’s young life, visit her Just Giving page. It’s not fair that Kelli and her mom will be losing Tom so soon… but it’s even worse to know that young Kelli has her own big battles to fight.

Source: Just Giving / Help Kelli

Tom and Kelli Attwater

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Sources: Daily Mirror & ViralFury