Watch “Samoan mother with brittle bone disease struggles to look after her baby” on YouTube


This video touched me so deeply at every level.

I was petrified of holding Vic as a baby.  I was even more petrified of anyone else holding my baby.   I had a strict “Look but don’t touch” policy.

“Don’t worry,” people said. “She won’t break.”

Vic’s first known fracture was at the age of 3 weeks.  She sucked her little thumb and fractured it…  By her 3rd birthday Vic had had 41 fractures.

Vic with her right leg in plaster-of-paris

As she grew older she became more careful.  Physiotherapy strengthened her muscle and the stronger muscles protected the bone… By the time she celebrated her 18th birthday, Vic believed that she was invincible.

At the tender age of 21 Vic got married.  When Colin proposed I cried and asked him whether he was aware what life with my OI child would mean…  Of course he did and despite my pleading and sermons about the danger of pregnancy, Vic fell pregnant 6 weeks after the wedding…

Vic embraced her pregnancy as she embraced life.  She survived the pregnancy and the birth.

Jared was six weeks old when Vic started battling to pick him up.  Her little wrists deteriorated to such an extent that she needed surgery to both wrists when he was 7 months old.

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Baby Jared stayed with us for a couple of week whilst Vic recovered.

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It was the first time in my life that I felt useless, hopeless and helpless.  I could do nothing for my child.  I had been relegated from being “the Mother” to being “the mother-in-law”.  My position in the family had changed forever.

When I watched this video I was catapulted back into Vic’s desperate attempt at living a full and normal life.

I remember my blind anger at Vic for falling pregnant…. Unknown number of fractures…Untold pain.

I remember Vicky believed that she was invincible…

I remember KNOWING that “Babies break bones…”

 

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Mother found pushing a dead toddler on a park swing…


I read a heartbreaking article that truly hit home

A mother was discovered pushing her dead son in a swing late last week. The unnamed woman is believed to have spent hours with the toddler’s body at a local park in Maryland—she had possibly been there with the dead child for the entire night, according to neighbors. Police were called after concerned neighbors noticed the mother at Wills Memorial Park in La Plata for “an unusually long time.”  “ http://firsttoknow.com/watch-mother-found-pushing-dead-toddler-on-park-swings/?utm_source=ftk_nwsltrF

More disturbing were the comments:

“People who are mentally unfit should never have children. My God this news of the father wanting custody set off this unfit mentally ill mother yet again. It is just to much strain for people who are mentally ill to bring up a child safely. The father is just as much to blame by marrying a mentally ill person in the first place to have children. God help them.”

“why are good baby given to bad mothers like this they dont deserve to have children I hope god punish her.”

Thank goodness that some sanity prevailed in some of the comments:

“I feel bad for the mother. When people grieve they can fall apart mentally, especially when a parent loses their child.”

“How do you know she was a bad mother? She was obviously in shock to be doing what she did. Aren’t you quick to judge?”

This is the world we live in.  A world that consists of two sets of people… Those who have lost a child and know the devastation of mourning a child every single day of their lives and those who can pick up a phone and talk to a living child; who can go visit, hug and hold their child(ren).

The first will more than likely comment “why are good baby given to bad mothers like this they dont deserve to have children I hope god punish her.” and a parent who knows the devastation of losing a child will potentially comment “How do you know she was a bad mother? She was obviously in shock to be doing what she did. Aren’t you quick to judge?”

I know that Vic’s death left me reeling from pain, anger and loss. It was so hard letting her go.  It was impossibly hard seeing her little body leave home for the last time.

Yet, some Facebook friends will pass snide comments about people posting photographs on their Facebook pages of the dead child and soppy messages… Yes, I am guilty.  I post photos of Vic and soppy messages that convey my longing for my beautiful little girl.

Unfriend me if I get up your nose.  I will grieve whichever way I chose.  Your child(ren) are alive and you have absolutely no idea of what true loss is.

My child is dead.  I burn candles for her and sometimes I fall asleep holding a photograph of her.  I have sat sobbing just hugging her ashes.  Does that make me mentally unfit?  No, I am just another grieving mother and you will never understand.  And, I hope you never have to understand!

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http://www.personal-growth-with-corinne-edwards.com/

https://tersiaburger.com/2013/01/25/vic-has-left-home-for-the-last-time/

https://tersiaburger.com/2013/01/24/i-heard-someone-wailing-it-was-a-terrible-sound/

https://tersiaburger.com/2013/01/26/st-josephs-lilies/

https://tersiaburger.com/2013/01/31/i-miss-you-angle-child/

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.

850 days


It is a mere 850 days since Vic died.  2 years and 4 months seems so short… 850 days seems far more representative of the longing.  It seems “longer”….

I woke up this morning with tears pouring down my cheeks.  I so longed to hold my child.  I know that the boys remembered too.  Jon-Daniel posted on his Facebook “Appreciate your Mom, tell her you love her, make her smile – because the only time she ever smiled while you were crying was when you were born!”  The first to “like” his post was his brother.

I imagined that the longing would get better.  It doesn’t!

At first it felt as if I was overseas – away from the trauma of Vic being ill.  I always felt guilty at the “reprieves” I had when I was travelling for work.  Now I would give anything and everything for just an extra minute with my child.

It was hard standing next to Vic’s bed hearing her cries of pain.  It was even harder seeing the despair in the eyes of her precious boys when they stood next to their mom’s bed helpless to ease her pain and fears.

So often over the years I wanted to run away.  In the end, when Vic cried from fear of dying, I felt the need to put an end to her suffering well up in me.   I put my hands over my ears and screamed in my head.

Vic and her Dad
“Don’t leave me Daddy!  I am scared!”

How do you answer your child when she cries “I am so scared”?

We have a patient at Hospice who vocalises her fear the way Vic did.  Today I just held her.  How do you still the fear of the unknown in a dying person?  And NO!!!!  It has nothing to do with religion.  Everybody is scared.

From that dreaded moment when a patient is told they are terminally ill an avalanche of shock and fear hits them.  It is called actually “named” – terminal fear.  Vic (and Elizabeth*) fear dying, pain, saying goodbye, loss of control and mostly all-encompassing the fear of the unknown.

Vic’s overwhelming fear was that people would forget her – that she would be replaced….  Vic questioned her life’s worth.  She did not work and in her mind that meant it that she had not achieved anything.  That she would leave no legacy.  No matter how many times we reassured her that she inspired hundreds of people worldwide, the fear never left.  I hope that she now knows how powerful her legacy is!  That hundreds of patients have benefitted from her death wish and, most importantly, that her sons are her true legacy.

I have witnessed that grieving starts the moment of handing down the sentence.  It is a long and hard journey for the dying person, their loved ones and friends.

And, today that Elizabeth’s* fear rests heavy on my heart, I know that we will provide her a safe haven where she can relax into death.  We will hold her hand and guide her family through this dreadful trauma of saying goodbye to a wife, mother, grandmother and friend.

I pray for wisdom and strength to handle the déjà vu of Elizabeth’s* final journey.

 

 

and with my last dying breath I say I love you….


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This morning I came across a beautiful quote and it brought back a flood of memories of how hard Vic fought to live. Vic was born with a passion for living. Vic so desperately wanted to live. She fought for every second of her life. She battled pain, indignity, 81 abdominal surgeries…She lived with her impending death for years.

Please hear what I am writing – Vic LIVED

It is so difficult to read the journal which she kept meticiously. She recorded the cruel remarks that cut through her soul. I feel her pain and I am sure that if I had the pages foresically analysed there would be traces of tears on it. Vic’s tears….And yet, all the world ever saw was that beautiful smile of hers.

An entry from Vic's journal
An entry from Vic’s journal “OUR STORY”

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Vic wanted her story told. She wanted people to know what is feels like to be cronically and terminally ill. She wanted the world to know how she experienced the switch from curative to palliative care. She wanted the world to know how helpless a sick person is. How vulnerable they are. She wanted to make a difference.

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It is her one wish I have ignored so far. As you know I have stopped blogging for almost a year. I can no longer ignore her wish. As hard as it is I have to do it.

Reading her journal I was reminded of her passion for life. How incredibly brave she was. Now, it is my turn to be brave. I will write her story. I will celebrate her life and journey. I will do my best to articulate Vic’s pain and vulnerability.

I will honour her life and wish.

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And the words that will echo in my ears will be her very last words ever… “I scream your name, but it’s too late…I’m on my way up the pearly stairway to heaven. I slowly open my eyes and with my last dying breath I say I love you.”

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I hope she hears my whisper “I love you with every fiber of by body, mind and soul my precious Angel Child”

My soul mourns my child


This post has been sitting in my Drafts since the 23 of November 2014.  This morning I was told that my grieving is isolating me from the world… So be it.  I lost my child and she deserves to be mourned.  If people cannot cope they must simply just stay out of my life.  I will not invade theirs… So if I offend someone it is tough.  Once you have walked my journey you are welcome to criticise. Remember to hug your children – I never thought Vic would die.  Shit happens.

It is 671 days since Vic died.

I have not blogged in a while. I stopped because I felt too exposed.  People were reading my blog and “using” my emotions against me.  My public grief became a weapon to be used in dealing with me.

I have received a number of emails from some of my blogger friends asking me whether I have started a new blog. I haven’t.  I have missed blogging.

Blogging to me provides me access to a network of people who have experienced the loss of a child. If one has not lost a child you will never understand the pain thereof.  It is grief that no one can begin to understand.  I read other mothers blogs and their words are my words.

We have had a number of milestones.

I have thrown myself into Stepping Stone Hospice. I have grown as a person.  My heart has been broken by the deaths of precious patients’ and the pain of their families.  I have made new friends only to lose them weeks later.  I have stood next to close on a 100 death beds this year.

Jon-Daniel turned 16. Vic left a box of party goods to be used for his 16th birthday.  I opened the box, for the 1st time after her death, and found the polystyrene “Happy 16th birthday” lettering; party poppers, balloons.  Vic was always very set on being fair.  What she did for the one she would do for the other.  She set up Jared’s 16th birthday party.  She left the same for her baby.…..  A final act of love for her precious son.

There are no further birthday boxes prepared for the boys. She has left 18th and 21st birthday gifts; Jon-Daniels confirmation candles and their 21st keys.  But no further party goods.

On the 17th of October 2014 Jared attended his Matric Farewell (prom).  Exactly 22 years after Vic’s Matric Farewell.  He wrote on his Facebook that it was hard to be excited about

He was so handsome and his little girlfriend looked beautiful. Vic would have been so proud of her son!  I know that she was there but I also know that Jared would have given anything to have her physically presence….  He would have wanted her to straighten his bow tie and flaff with his hair.  She would have cried and insisted on 100’s of photos.

I vividly remembered Vic’s farewell and how exquisitely beautiful she looked. I remembered how careful I was when I helped her dress because her skin marked so easily and we did not want red marks spoiling the evening for her.  I remembered her and Gia giggling whilst they were getting ready for the Big Event.  I remembered my pride looking at my little princess…1450195_10201323732389339_1329957140_n    vic matric (2014_09_29 21_13_20 UTC)

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I slept very badly that evening because I actually remember that his mommy was very hung-over the morning after her farewell…. He arrived home in the early hours of the morning and he was sober! I could not have been prouder.

Now Jared is writing his school exams. I remember how I fought with Vic to study hard and get her marks up.  I remember the frustration of knowing that Vic was not performing to her ability.  She only did enough to pass comfortably. I realized then that all she ever wanted to be was a mommy.  It was hard to accept.  The dreams that I had for her were exactly that – my dreams.

Vic had no ambition to become a doctor or an advocate or even politician. She started thinking up her children’s names when she was 4 or 5 years old.  When she was old enough to draw she “designed” her wedding gown.  It was hard to accept.

Vic and I were so opposite to one another. I am ambitious and driven.  Vic was content to live…

So, here I am on my knees again hoping and praying that Jared’s marks will be good enough for him to gain university entrance. I gave him the letter Vic wrote him…the letter to be given to him just before his final school exams.  I was petrified that it would upset him and affect his mental state adversely.  He was thrilled and quietly said that it was so nice getting a letter from her and being able to read her words.  He said that he missed her little notes… and her hugs.

When I heard his words I felt his pain and loss all over again.

As time passes it is becoming more difficult. Maybe because people are “fed-up” with my grieving.  They are impatient with me and want me to forget and accept.  They become frustrated because I try and find every excuse to mention Vic’s name.  Their empathy has switched to impatience.

And, I don’t care!

My soul is grieving for Vic. The pain has travelled so much further than my heart.  It has filled my body and soul to the core.  I want my child back.  I want to hear her laugh.  I want to see her smile.  I want to feel her hugs.  I want to hear her voice.  I want to be a mommy again.  I want to be a grandmother again.  I want my life back.

 

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Two years today


Our last coffee shop outing...
Our last coffee shop outing…

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My precious Angel Child

Two years ago I lay next to you listening to your laboured breathing. You lay motionless in your bed. Your hands and feet were ice-cold. Your body was burning up with fever. Daddy and I counting the seconds between your breaths. My hand on your little heart and my head next to yours.

I remember whispering how much I love you; that there was nothing to be scared of…I felt your heart beat getting weaker and weaker; your breathing becoming more shallow by the minute.
When your little heart stopped beating my heart broke into a million pieces. As your soul soared mine plummeted into a hell hole of grief and despair.

I knew that it would be hard but nothing in the world could have prepared me for the pain that followed. My heart aches for you and I would give anything to hold you one more time. To hear that mischievous giggle…

We miss you so much. Our family will never be the same again.

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