Vic’s Mother’s Day roses


Iceberg Roses
Iceberg Roses
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Entrance to Vic’s flat. The Iceberg Rose outside her bedroom window when it was still snow white… 14.9.2011

In 2005 I planted an Iceberg Rose outside Vic’s bedroom window.  It looked pretty and gave her great pleasure.

Roses have always held a lot of meaning for me.

   
Red Roses: A red rose is an unmistakable expression of love. Red roses convey deep emotions – be it love, longing or desire. Red Roses can also be used to convey respect, admiration or devotion. A deep red rose can be used to convey heartfelt regret and sorrow. The number of red roses has special romantic meanings associated with them. 12 red roses is the most popular of all which conveys “Be mine” and “I love you”
White Roses: White is the color of purity, chastity and innocence. White flowers are generally associated with new beginnings and make an ideal accompaniment to a first-time bride walking down the aisle. White flowers can be used to convey sympathy or humility. They also are indicative of spirituality. Hence, white roses also follow suit.
Yellow Roses: Yellow roses are an expression of exuberance. Yellow roses evoke sunny feelings of joy, warmth and welcome. They are symbols of friendship and caring. The yellow rose, like the other roses, does not carry an undertone of romance. It indicates purely platonic emotions.
Pink Roses: There are a lot of variations of the pink rose. Over all, pink roses are used to convey gentle emotions such as admiration, joy and gratitude. Light pink rose blooms are indicative of sweetness and innocence. Deep pink rose blooms convey deep gratitude and appreciation. Pink roses also connote elegance and grace.
Orange Roses: While a yellow rose reminds us of the sun, an orange rose reminds us of a fiery blaze. These fiery blooms signify passion and energy. Orange roses can be used to express intense desire, pride and fervor. They also convey a sense of fascination. These flowers rival only the red roses as messengers of passion in romance.
Lavender Roses: A Lavender rose like its color conveys enchantment. It also expresses “love at first sight”. Darker shades of lavender roses (close to purple) convey a sense of regal majesty and splendor. These roses are used to express fascination and adoration.
Blue Roses: A perfectly blue rose is still elusive like the perfectly black rose. Blue roses cannot be achieved naturally so they represent the unattainable or the mysterious. Blue roses therefore embody the desire for the unattainable. They say “I can’t have you but I can’t stop thinking about you”
Green roses: Green is the color of harmony, of opulence, of fertility. It is also a color indicative of peace and tranquility. Green roses (these are off-white roses with shades of green) can symbolize best wishes for a prosperous new life or wishes for recovery of good health
Black Roses: Black is the color of death and farewell. A black rose, like the blue rose remains elusive. What we know as black roses are actually really dark red roses. Black roses convey the death of a feeling or idea. Sending black roses to someone indicates the death of the relationship.
Mixed Roses: By mixing rose blooms of different colors purposefully, you can create a bouquet of emotions. For example, a bouquet of red and white roses would mean I love you intensely and my intentions are honorable. A random mix of roses would convey mixed feelings or send a message: “I don’t know what my feelings are yet but I sure do like you enough to send you roses.”

The white roses symbolized Vic’s pure heart; the love that filled her precious heart… Vic had no malice in her.  She was a people pleaser with an abundance of love.  Vic loved passionately.  There were no half measures in her life.  She loved the way she lived.  She loved her family, her boys, her friends.  Vic loved life.

At Stepping Stone we started a memorial garden.  Symbolic gestures are part of the healing.  Planting a rose in memory of a loved one brings a certain amount of solace…  I see people come back to check on their roses; they photograph the roses.  Is it a way of clinging to something living that represents a loved one?  I think it may be the case.

I awaited Mother’s Day with trepidation this year.  Yet the morning dawned and I was fine.  I spoke at a church on Hospice that morning.  Jon-Daniel accompanied me.  Poor baby.  He sat through an Afrikaans sermon that I am sure he did not always follow.  I stood in front of the congregation and wished all the mommies a happy Mother’s Day.  I had a smile on my face but my heart wept for Vic’s precious boys who did not have a mom to celebrate the day with.  I wept in my heart for me – I was childless.  It was not a happy day for us.

In the afternoon we went to a nursery and bought roses for the memorial garden.  The boys chose a deep pink and I chose a gentle pink.  It represented Vic’s gentle nature, her femininity and “softness”.  The boys said their rose reminded them of Vic’s boldness;  her passion for life.

We bought Steers Burgers – Vic’s favorite hamburgers and that was indeed her last meal.  We picnicked in the Stepping Stone Garden.  We planted Vic’s roses and released balloons.  Gentle tears ran down our cheeks as we sent up balloons filled with love and longing.

Vic's memorial Mother's Day Rose
Vic’s memorial Mother’s Day Rose

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The Boys Memorial Mother's Day Rose
The Boys Memorial Mother’s Day Rose

A week ago I noticed an amazing thing.  Vic’s white Iceberg roses, planted outside her bedroom window, started turning pink…

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Vic’s message of love – white roses turning pink
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My precious little Angel I am so grateful for the reminders that you are with me.  I wish I could hold you but I know that you see our pain, our empty hearts and that you are trying to reassure us that you are indeed our guardian angels.

 

 

 

 

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.

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

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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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One death, one funeral, one dying, one day….


Friday morning, as the first rays of the new day peeped through the clouds, a brave young mother breathed her last breath.  She was surrounded by her mother, her two daughters, her ex-husband and a friend…  Seconds earlier her mom was whispering words of love to her.  Telling her it is okay to go… Friday afternoon I attended the funeral of another brave young mother who had died at Stepping Stone.  She died with her mom and Hospice volunteers next to her bed.  Earlier we had sung for her, prayed for her… Her family could not bear to see her dying and abandoned her and her mom in her final days.  This brave young woman had a beautiful smile on her lips when the undertakers arrived to remove her cancer ravished body. At the funeral pink balloons were sent into the sky

balloons

Friday evening I stood in the room of a father and husband who was dying.  The youngest son sitting slumped in a chair.  His eyes red and swollen.  At the foot end of the bed a stepson smelling of alcohol.  “Had a couple of beers tonight Pop.  At least four for you” he said. “He was a man’s man.  He came home drunk every night of his life.  He lived his life!  He provided well for my mom.  He worked and played hard.” he said with admiration in his voice… My thoughts went back to earlier that day when the dying man’s wife tried to hug him. “F…. off… F…. off” he told her.  His wife wept for him.  She stayed with him.  She will mourn for him.

My First Message from Heaven


I have no doubt that my child is in Heaven.  Vic lived hell everyday of her life.  Maybe her journey on earth was a purifying process….I don’t know.  What I do know is that Vic’s life was a lesson to most people.

Nobody can suffer a lifetime of devastating pain, indignity, loss and then still go to hell…This was her hell.  It was a hell that she suffered and lived with dignity.  She never stopped smiling.  Often through her tears…but she smiled.  Vic lived every second that she breathed.

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I do believe that Vic is running free in Heaven.  Running for the first time in her life… free of pain and suffering!

A year ago, today, we had Vic’s memorial service.  It was incredibly sad and beautiful…it was also the day I received my first message from Heaven.

I RECEIVED MY SIGN!

ImageTuesday morning arrived.  It had been a very long weekend.  I battled with the eulogy and my broken heart.  Everybody kept looking at me to make sure I was okay…  Patting my hand and saying: “It is going to be okay!”

It is never going to be okay.  Nothing can erase my child’s suffering and death from my mind.  In time I suppose I will learn to live with the pain and longing, but it is NOT GOING TO BE FLIPPEN OKAY!!!!! EVER!!!

I have slept in Vic’s bed since her death to “demystify” her room.  I also feel close to her.  I can smell her in her pillow; I spray her perfume before I go to sleep.

After Vic passed and before the undertakers arrived I lay next to her lifeless little body. I spoke to her non-stop.

“Sweetie, If your soul is hovering in this room I want a clear sign from you that you are still with me…”

I woke early and prepared for the lousiest day of my life.  I started chewing “Rescue” tablets.  It was the only way I was going to get through the memorial service without making an absolute fool of myself.  The boys looked so handsome!  Their mom would have been very proud of her boys!

At the church the hearse was parked at the front door.  Vic was already inside the church.  A huge photo was on an easel, and at least a hundred candles were burning around the casket.  The flowers were beautiful.  Vic would have approved.

I sat in the pew with tears running down my face.  I could not believe that my baby girl was lying in that casket!  That I would never see her, never hold her again, never hear her voice again.  Sitting in church I could not remember her pain and suffering only my own.

The service was beautiful!  The minister spoke from his heart and shared his memories of a brave young woman with almost 200 people.  He said that not many people are ever prepared for death, but Vic was to such an extent that she had planned her entire memorial service.  He wiped a tear from his eyes where he spoke of Vic’s journey.

As instructed by Vic we sang “Amazing Grace” and “How great Art Thou”.  I managed to sing – not a pretty sound though!  My voice was all over!  Vic would have giggled and told me that I sound like my mom!

I did the eulogy with the two boys standing on either side of me.  At times my voice wavered and at times even I could hear how strong I sounded.

And then it was time to carry the coffin to the hearse for the FINAL part of Vic’s journey.  I could hear the boys quietly sobbing as we carried Vic on her final journey.  I felt my face contort with grief and tears.

The coffin was so light!  I remember thinking “I wonder if Vic is really in the coffin….”

We lay single roses on the coffin.  The two boys’ red roses and the rest of us pink….  Kari and Simone (Vic’s nieces) came up and stroked the coffin.  They sobbed uncontrollably.  I could hear people crying.

The minister said a final prayer, and it was time for Vic to leave.

The undertaker solemnly hugged me and closed the rear door of the hearse.  It opened…. He pushed the coffin into position and relocked the locking mechanism.  He closed the door again.  Once again the door closed and opened!

“Vic is here and she is telling us she is going no where!” I said

People laughed nervously….

The undertaker unlocked the lock and pushed the coffin into position again.  The undertaker locked the locking mechanism for the 3rd time.  He closed the door. This time it remained closed.  Vic had gotten her message through to me…I received my sign.

My precious child is still with me.

Rest in Peace Angel Child


Yesterday the sun set on our tears and longing. This morning I lay awake watching the sun send it first rays through the silhouette of the oak tree in our garden.

“Rays of hope” I thought.

I lay there, my eyes still heavy with tears and sleep thinking how grateful I am that my child’s suffering is over…

Yesterday was a day filled with selfish sadness. All I could think of was how much I miss Vic; how empty my life is; how much pain we are in… For one day I “forgot” her terrible suffering. Her tears of pain and frustration. This morning I thought back to Vic vomiting pure, bright red blood, crying “Mommy I broke another vertebrae”.

This morning I remembered that Vic had absolutely no quality of life. I remembered my fear that her suffering would never end… I remembered my prayers, pleading with God to end Vic’s suffering.  Alberton-20120114-00781  Image (178)

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So, today I will allow peace back into my heart. I will do my best to be a good back-up mommy to the boys. I will try to live with my pain. And when sadness threatens to overwhelm me I will force my mind back to Vic’s words “I can’t do this anymore”. I will remember the indignity that she lived; her tears…

I will remember my baby girl’s laugh; her beautiful eyes; the rich texture of her hair. I will honour her pure heart, compassion and goodness.

I will celebrate the fact that Vic is now free of pain, indignity and loneliness. I will visualize Vic running free in Heaven.

Rest in Peace my Angel Child. You are ALWAYS     in my heart.

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