“We never cry in front of the children …..”

Jared and Vic after the “news” today

Babies are emotional beings right from birth. As parents we know that babies respond to emotional expressions such as smiling within the first few weeks of life. Within three months babies can react to and express joy, interest, anger, sadness and disgust.

Babies and young children express their emotions without reservation.  In time, they however learn to control and even conceal some of their feelings, especially when they are sad, frightened, or angry.

As adults we lose our ability to communicate spontaneously.  We become guarded.  Many of us may still be comfortable expressing positive emotions, such as joy, pride and happiness, but will refrain from sharing feelings that we fear may make others uncomfortable.

The grieving process that walks hand in hand with terminal illness however catapults the bravest of us into a whirlpool of emotions ranging from fear, sadness and anger to irrational hope.

We are what we are.  If you are naturally an introvert it will be very difficult to reach out to others when we or a loved one battles a serious or terminal illness. This makes the grieving process difficult for us.  People who are comfortable in expressing their emotions are usually more able to reach out to others for the support and reassurance that they need.

When I am scared or angry I withdraw within my safe place where no one is welcome or allowed. In fear I will push people away from me.  Anger is different – I will lash out and go for the jugular.  Fear for my family will bring out the most primal instincts in me.  I will do anything to protect them.

To maintain control I hold tightly onto my emotions– I know that if I allow myself to falter even a little, I may collapse into a whimpering heap of tears.  It has taken superhuman efforts to allow Vic to see some of my pain.  Well, I fool myself that she only sees some of it.  Vic knows so well how my life will screech to an end the day her life ends… We have spoken about absolutely anything and everything.  She knows my heart.

Tomorrow morning Jared will have a lymphoma biopsy.

Today, when I saw the tears of fear form in Vic’s eyes, I said “Stop!  We never cry in front of the children”

Tomorrow I will smile, support and encourage.

Tonight I will weep for my beautiful grandson, his mother and his little brother……..I will weep for his grandfather and everyone who loves and admires him.

When I wipe my last tears I will retreat to my safe place…..  Tomorrow I will smile, support and encourage.

Whispered secrets

Jared and Jon-Daniel taking Vic for a walk during one of her hospital visits 28.8.2011


Whispered secrets

Jared and Jon-Daniel taking Vic for a walk during one of her hospital visits 28.8.2011

It is Monday the 3rd of September 2012.  Vic had a horrible night and looked absolutely terrible this morning.  Jared’s kidney hurt like hell and I got an appointment for him to see the urologist at 13:00.

Vic wanted to go with but Jared held her little body in his arms and said: Mommy please stay in bed.  Oumie will take me to the doctor.  I promise I will phone you if I am scared or need you.” 

Vic sobbed uncontrollably.

“Please Mommy, you are just going to be more sore and sick if you go with now…”

Jared and Jon-Daniel are strong and terribly protective of their Mommy.  It stresses and scares them when Vic tries to do too much.  The boys are continually stressing that Vic, in her endeavors to mother, overdoes things and then pays the price.  They feel guilty…they assume responsibility for Vicky’s actions.

“Mom picked me up from school and is now very tired….”

” Mom came to watch me play cricket and is now sick in bed for a week again…”

” Mom broke another vertebra taking me to school….  “

Whilst friends and family “ooh and aahh” about how mature and responsible the boys are, their lives are lonely lives.  They are missing out on their own childhood experiences.  Most of the children in Jared’s class are having “Sweet Sixteen” parties.  Jared is invited but chooses to stay home.  He says it is because the kids smoke and drink…  But I know he does not want to leave his mother.

Until earlier this year, when Vic spoke to the boys, there were whispered secrets, secret tears when we thought they were not looking and false bravado when they were looking.  You see, although we know death is inevitable, the timing is uncertain.  It is like running a marathon without knowing any details about the timing or the course. The boys also experience guilt because they too pray that Vic’s suffering will end.

Yet Vic struggles with dying.  It is impossibly painful to leave her sons.  To let go….. To allow them to be grandmothered….

So, today I again, experienced the unbelievable selflessness of a parentified child when Jared said “Please Mommy, you are just going to be more sore and sick if you go with now…”  https://tersiaburger.com/2012/06/30/a-mothers-love-for-her-sons/

Tomorrow morning Jared will return to the operating theater for the 3rd time since the 27th of June 2012.  The sonars show at least two more kidney stones.  Obviously last week’s lithotripsy, or shock wave therapy (EWSL), (to break the stone up into smaller fragments to allow those small pieces to pass more easily into the bladder), was not the solution.  The urologist will perform ureteroscopy.  Instruments are threaded into the ureter that will allow the urologist to place a stent (a thin hollow tube) through the urethra, past the bladder, and into the ureter to bypass the obstructing stone. This stent will be left for two weeks when  Jared will once again go back to theater and the urologist will use instruments to “grab the stone” and remove it.

Tomorrow morning Jon-Daniel will go to school – fearful for both his mother and brother.  He will bravely write a maths test and excel at it.  Success and high marks are his coping mechanism.

How unfair is life.

Happy birthday my angel child!

Vic and all the men in her life admiring her PC tablet

Friday morning the boys woke Vic with breakfast and coffee.  They sang “Happy Birthday” and gave her beautiful gold earrings that they had chosen and paid for themselves.

Vic went to breakfast with Leeann at 08:00 and set off for the Beauty Parlour with Esther at 10:00.  She was home with beautiful nails at 11:30. Poor little poppet!  She was so exhausted.  She got into bed and slept for the rest of the day.

We woke her at 18:00 to get ready for dinner.  She was in too much pain.  She sobbed.

The boys spoke to her and told her “We will have takeaways and have dinner in your room Mom…like we did on Mother’s Day.  It will be fun!” Vic had spare ribs and the boys and I had wonderful hamburgers!  Danie is so health conscious he had the fish!  It was a lovely evening.  We were sprawled all over her bed, laughing and joking. I sat there and my heart filled with joy.  My beautiful little girl, her sons and my wonderful husband once again celebrating her birthday.

When Danie and I gave her a Tablet Vic was over the moon.  She loves gadgets and has wanted a PC Tablet for a long time.  Vic said “Mommy I can’t believe I got a Tablet that I don’t have to drink!”  We laughed until our tummy’s hurt.

Vic and I

We had arranged a barbeque for Saturday afternoon to celebrate not only Vic’s birthday but also Tom (son-in-law married to Lani) who has a birthday on Tuesday – 4.9.2012, Henk (grandson – birthday 2.9.2012)and Francois (Tom and Lani’s friend – birthday Monday 3.9.2012).  We hoped that Vic would have recovered enough to be able to enjoy the afternoon.  She rested until 14:00 and got dressed just in time to meet the first guests. We planned to sit under the trees but the weather turned.  A cold wind blew and we moved the party to the house.

Lani’s magical tables!

Children were running around and laughing.  Lani had prepared party packs for the kids and they had a ball!  The table settings were beautiful.  Lani is a magician!  Clusters of people were standing around chatting and laughing.  For a short while our household would appear to the world as a perfectly happy and normal household.

Vic looked so beautiful.  To the untrained eye she looked just like a normal, healthy young woman.  That is until she moved…she shuffles like an old lady!  She insisted on having photos taken with everyone as they arrived!

By 19:00 Vic was exhausted!  She conceded defeat and changed into her pyjamas on and slippers.  She came back to the table and tried so hard to hang-in.  Poor little poppet!  She cried from pain

Vic had a very bad night.  “What else can I take for pain Mommy?” became a refrain!

Last night Jared developed kidney pains again.  He said it was the same as last weekend’s kidney stone pains but worse.  This morning we decided to take him to the casualty department (ER).  Vic very bravely got dressed.  It was however very clear that she would not be able to go with.  She was just in too much pain.  She was heartbroken and sobs racked her little body.  “I am letting my son down….”

Jared had lots of pain meds and tomorrow morning we will see his urologist.

Our household is back to normal.  The laughter has subsided…..

It was a happy birthday………

Henk Birthday Boy 2.9.2012
Francois 3.9.2012 with Lani and Tom  4.9.2012 in the background

Fun was had by all!