Dying is a lonely journey. Not only for the sick person but also for the family. As hard as we may try to avoid death, the truth is that we do a lousy job of it. Science and medicine will certainly postpone it, even staying healthy might seem to delay it, but the harsh reality is that death does not wait for you, it does not ask you, and it does not listen to you. Death ignores your feelings and wants; you do not matter to death…Death is the only certainty in life! We need to remember that our existence here is fragile, and we never have as much time with people as we think we do. If there is someone or someones out there that you love, don’t neglect that and don’t put off engaging with them because waits for no-one… Vic's Journey ended on 18 January 2013 at 10:35. She was the most courageous person in the world and has inspired thousands of people all over the world. Vic's two boys are monuments of her existence. She was an amazing mother, daughter, sister and friend. I will miss you today, tomorrow and forever my Angle Child.
Vic has had an absolutely amazing week. Her pain has been beautifully controlled. We have had severe bouts of vomiting and cramping but compared to a month ago – it was a walk in the park!
The Jurnista is definitely working! I have an appointment with Prof Froehlich on Tuesday, the 14th of August, and she will then give me feedback on Hospice. I was completely prepared to tell her I don’t need Hospice on any level anymore. Vic’s pain is so well under control that I can handle her care with no assistance or problems at all.
My baby sister(she is only 55 years old) Lorraine, spent some time with us over the long weekend in-between umpiring at the South African National Netball Tournament. She was amazed at how well Vic looked. (Remember she last saw Vic when she fell at the end of June). Vic has been amazing. This week she has been far more mobile. She started thinking (arguing) about driving again….. The first time in months!
This morning Vic went to breakfast with her friend Angela. She was so excited.
Two hours later Vic literally shuffled into the house. “Mommy I broke my back!”
My heart stopped.
On a certain level I am angry. I am angry that Vic wasn’t more careful. I am angry that I slipped into a false sense of security! I am angry that the Jurnista is masking the pain so well that Vic is pushing her body’s boundaries.
Conclusion: Vic is still a very sick little girl. The fact that her pain is better controlled does not mean that she is well. If any of us had spent the amount of time vomiting and cramping that she has this week we would be in bed hooked up to an IV and praying for death. This week Vic’s amazing resilience again amazed me. She is strong beyond comprehension!
My heart bleeds for her that her fragile body has once again failed her incredible will to live. It is clear that she is merely holding onto life, as she knows it, with her fingertips……
I will go to the meeting with Prof Froehlich and continue my fight for Hospice to become involved. Vic will never function on any level again. She is confined to bed relying on medication to keep her sane. Maybe she will have a good couple of days here or there but her sentence has not been commuted.
Women’s Day is celebrated internationally in March. In South Africa we celebrate Woman’s Day on the 9Th of August. This day commemorates the 9 August 1956 when 20000 women of all races and ages participated in a national march petitioning the then National Party Government against pass laws … (“Pass laws” were legislation that required African persons to carry a document on them to ‘prove’ that they were allowed to enter a ‘white area’ during the Apartheid regime).
The march was a resounding success and South Africa recognised the bravery of these women who risked arrest, detention and banning by declaring 9 August National Women’s Day
During the March the women sang Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika, which became the joint national anthem of South Africa along with Die Stem van Suid Africa, in 1994. An interesting fact is that ‘Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika was composed as a hymn in 1897 a Missionary teacher in Johannesburg. Five countries, Zambia, Tanzania, Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa adopted ‘Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika as their national anthem. Zimbabwe and Namibia have since adopted new national anthems.
‘Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika
Lord, bless Africa May her spirit rise high up Hear thou our prayers Lord bless us.Lord, bless Africa Banish wars and strife Lord, bless our nation Of South Africa.
I was surfing “Strong Women” and found some amazing quotes which I would like to share with you tonight. Interesting,
when I was surfing “Women + Abuse” many, many sites with “50 Shades of Grey” came up….. I am going to have to read the book to find out why “Shades of Grey” is tagged with “women + abuse”…..
“In politics, if you want anything said, ask a man. If you want anything done, ask a woman.” Margaret Thatcher
“Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.” ― Nora Ephron
“A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.” ― Coco Chanel
“After all, Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels.” ― Ann Richards
“Yes, we praise women over 40 for a multitude of reasons. Unfortunately, it’s not reciprocal. For every stunning, smart, well-coiffed, hot woman over 40, there is a bald, paunchy relic in yellow pants making a fool of himself with some 22-year old waitress. Ladies, I apologize. For all those men who say, “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?”, here’s an update for you. Nowadays 80%of women are against marriage. Why? Because women realize it’s not worth buying an entire pig just to get a little sausage!” ― Andy Rooney
“Perhaps if we saw what was ahead of us, and glimpsed the follies, and misfortunes that would befall us later on, we would all stay in our mother’s wombs, and then there would be nobody in the world but a great number of very fat, very irritated women.” ― Lemony Snicket
“The greater your capacity to love, the greater your capacity to feel the pain.” ~ Jennifer Aniston
“I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish that He didn’t trust me so much.” ~ Mother Teresa
“Pick the day. Enjoy it – to the hilt. The day as it comes. People as they come… The past, I think, has helped me appreciate the present – and I don’t want to spoil any of it by fretting about the future.” ~ Audrey Hepburn
“When women are depressed, they eat or go shopping. Men invade another country. It’s a whole different way of thinking.” ~ Elayne Boosler
So, tonight I salute all the strong (and witty) women of the world. I salute the mothers of nations, leaders, sisters and friends. I salute my daughters. I salute Vic for the life she has lived. In the words of― D.H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterley’s Lover “A woman has to live her life, or live to repent not having lived it.” Vic has not wasted a single breath!
But, in conclusion, the best quote of the day: “I, with a deeper instinct, choose a man who compels my strength, who makes enormous demands on me, who does not doubt my courage or my toughness, who does not believe me naive or innocent, who has the courage to treat me like a woman.” ~ Anais Nin, French born American author of short stories.
We all deserve husbands/partners that respect our strength! I salute my beautiful husband who is truly “the wind beneath my wings”. Dankie my skat! Jy is die beste!!
Vic and the boys before she had her blotched back operation
I often read about a child that had been ill for a long time and the parent being in denial. Death is never discussed. I know it may take months or even years for Vic to die. Maybe, with a bit of luck, I will die before she does. But when either one of us dies there will be nothing unspoken. Vic and I talk a lot. We talk about many things. If ever I think of something that I am not certain of, I ask her immediately.
I have fully accepted that Vicky is always walking the tightrope even when she is doing great. It is the nature of the beast and the beast can take you by surprise.
We have spoken about heaven and what a peaceful, healthy place it will be. We often speak about meeting again in heaven and Vic always says she is not scared of dying. Vicky feels terrible about leaving us behind. She worries about leaving us all behind. She worries about how sad we will be. I wish I knew what to say to truly put her mind at peace and to let her “let go”…
It was very difficult to first raise the question of death. It started approximately 8 years ago with a tentative “Sweetie, is all your paperwork in order before you have this surgery?” and progressed to discussing and shopping for 18th birthday gifts, Confirmation bibles and 21st Birthday Keys. It was strangely “pleasant” going shopping with Vic. I knew that her mind was at ease having done the shopping. Maybe she will be around for these milestone events. Maybe not….. But Vic is prepared. She is far more prepared than I am. She has written letters to be read after her death. She has “special events” cards that I will give the boys when the occasion or need arises.
To arrive at the point, where we are, has been hell! No matter what age your child is, when you first find out that your child is terminally ill, your initial instinct is to shelter the child. (Regardless of the child’s age – the child will always remain the child!!) The parent’s first instinct is to leave no stone unturned. You watch the child like a hawk, looking for small signs of improvement or deterioration, looking for symptoms, hoping against all hope that the doctor made a mistake!
I analyze every ache and pain, hoping that the stomach cramps are merely side effects of the medication. I know when Vic is heading for a UTI; I know how her body reacts to different medications. Unfortunately there is no “Dummy’s Guide for the Parents of a Terminally ill Child”.
Professional counselling is available at a terrible cost. By the time your child is diagnosed or rather sentenced to terminal illness, hundreds and hundreds of thousands of rands has been spent on medical bills. Within two months of the new medical year the medical aid is exhausted….. The medication and treatment cannot stop regardless of the claimable amount left on the medical aid limits… I have said it before – morphine or counselling???? No contest! Morphine wins hands down. Now in a civilized world Hospice should enter the picture at this stage….. Unfortunately we live in South Africa and Vic does not have AIDS or cancer. I pray that she will find the peace that I know she does not have.
No-one in the world can live in so much pain for so long!
Today we buried a very dear friend. As his coffin was lowered into the grave, gentle snowflakes fell. A light layer of pristine white forming on the dark, cold soil…..
One does not leave a funeral in the same way that you have come. One cannot help but have death on one’s mind. One cannot help but be aware that such is the end of all life. One may look at oneself and have a new awareness that one’s body will not last forever. These thoughts are ones that humans must face and find a way to deal with. Some believe that the death is only the beginning of the next great mystery and the soul is eternal. Others take a practical view that death is all there is. Everyone leaves a funeral with thoughts of life and its fragility on their mind.
Today we bid farewell to a dear friend, a brother in every way but blood. We know that friends like Dries come so infrequently that we want to cling to them and not let them leave. We want to beg them to stay, but love’s power gives us the strength and the courage to let go. To let them leave when it is time to say goodbye and give them the wings they deserve. To let them fly into the boundless sky…… where the gentle snowflakes reminded us of them as it brushes against us
My regrets are many. If only I had gone to the hospital to visit when I heard about Dries’ heart surgery…… If only I had gone to visit with Danie when he popped around after Dries was discharged from hospital…….. If only I had truly made Dries realize the value our friendship. Regrets will not bring him back. I have become so self-centred in my journey with Vic that I have closed myself off from the world. I have excluded friends and acquaintances and almost jealously guarded my pain.
I bid you adieu, my dear friend. Your kindness, your generosity and gentle spirit will live on through everyone whose path you crossed. It is with love and the faith that we shared that I will move forward from here. I will never forget you.
Rest in peace my dearest friend!
Though I do mourn for you my friend
And though I may cry,
And though you are leaving me
I do not say goodbye.
For goodbyes mean forever
Yet here you still remain.
Because, forever you will live
Here in my memories,
And forever in my heart
You will remain. (Thomas Barnes)
(That was for you dear friend, I love you, and will miss you)