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.
Today I read a very moving eulogy that Denise, one of my blogger friends, posted. It is a eulogy that she wrote and presented at her beloved son’s funeral.
I identified with her emotions and every word she wrote. I would like to share Denise’s words with you and also my eulogy with which I honoured my brave child.
Denise says:” I’ve added a page with Philip’s eulogy. It was my last gift to him. As I wrote in the introduction, I’m posting it so you can know him a little better. I’ve just re-read it, and I remember reading it out loud, with Phil and Natalie beside me. I remember that I’d spent the last two hours in my chair, non-stop sobbing. I remember my cousin Maria leaning over and saying, “If you don’t stop crying you won’t be able to read.” I remember my voice clear and strong. And when I was done, I remember being told, “I feel better because I know you’re going to be all right.”
Me and “all right” didn’t belong in the same sentence. But there it was. And here it is; I hope you’ll take a look.”
Much of the days, immediately after Vic’s death, is now a distant memory. The emotions that I did record are hazy now. I floated on a herbal tranquilizer cloud… I cannot remember who all was at the funeral. I remember who wasn’t… I looked at the January 2013 photos this week and saw that her second eldest sibling did come and say her goodbyes. I now vaguely remember her little girls being here, but I actually don’t remember!!
When Vic planned her memorial service she asked that I deliver her eulogy.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday after Vic died I cried and was unable to think straight. I wanted to do the handouts myself but by Sunday evening I knew I would not be able to do it in time. My mind was blank, and I could not get Microsoft Publisher to do what I needed it to do… At 8.15pm I texted the undertaker and asked them to do it. I would send them the content, and they would format my information.
I prepared a wonderful slide show of Vic’s life. All the fun bits and the people she loved were in it with her. All the highlights of her life were captured in PowerPoint. “Never Alone” as performed by Jim Brickman and Lady Annabella would play as her coffin was carried out of the church. “If tomorrow starts without me” would play before the start of the service. The slide show would loop from 15 minutes before the service and again 10 minutes after Vic left the church for the last time.
The eulogy and thank-you’s would be done by me.
Strangely the “thank-you’s” was far more difficult to do. There were so many people to thank that had loved, helped and supported Vic and the family over the years…
I actually don’t know whether I blogged on the service as such before, but if I have either forgive me or please move onto another post.
When I stood up to do the thank you’s and eulogy I thought “It is the 3rd eulogy in 18 months I am doing…”
As I stood up Vic’s boys got up and flanked me. They bravely and stoically stood next to me supporting me as we paid our last respects. I could feel their bodies tremble and occasionally I hear a stifled sound as they suppressed their tears.
We stood on the stairs below the pulpit. Three steps below us Vic lay in a casket. More than a hundred candles burning; her St Josephs lilies on the casket and a beautiful framed photo of her… I so wish someone has taken a photo…
Like Denise I was surprised by the clarity of my voice. It was as if my voice belonged to someone else. The steadiness of my voice belied the physical pain of my heart.
I said the following:
Where do I start? How do I begin a farewell when I still can’t believe you’re gone? How do I say goodbye to a part of my soul?
The day you were born I experienced this UNBELIEVABLE rush of love. I was smitten from the first second I lay eyes on you.
You came into my life and changed me forever. Over the years people have complimented me for being a good mother but I truly cannot take credit for that. You were born good, and great and amazing. You were the one who taught me lessons in life. I believe you are an angel God sent to teach me.
You taught me love. You taught me honesty. You taught me to love unconditionally. You taught me how to forgive and how to be strong. You are the strongest person I have ever known. You gave me strength when I was weak. When times were sad and tough you reminded me to be grateful for the small things in life. You taught me how to be myself. Most of all you taught me about life and how to live.
When you were diagnosed with Osteogenesis Imperfecta at the age of 18 months and the doctors told me I should wrap you in cotton wool and wait for you to die, you taught me it was more important to feel and grow like any other child than to have me hide you under my wing. It was so important to you to live. And that you did. You gave birth to not one beautiful baby but two! You mothered the boys the way you lived life – with a passion.
You are the bravest person in the world. You rewrote medical history. You defied death for so many years… You mocked bad news and a poor prognosis…
You made me so proud. You have always been my greatest pride and joy. At school you excelled as a pianist. As a mommy you were an example to all. As a dying person you were brave beyond words.
I’m not sure how I can live this life without you. You worried about me just as much as I worried about you. You told everyone how worried you were that I would not cope without you. You fought so hard to stay alive. You fought until you gave your very last breath. You did not want to leave your boys. You lived for your boys.
You often said you were scared people would forget you…
No-one will ever forget you. You made an incredible impact on the world. You left two monuments of your love and mothering skills. Your sons will honour you every day of their lives with their actions.
Your dream of a Hospice for Alberton has been realised in Stepping Stone. Thousands of people will benefit from your dream and compassion in years to come. It is ironic that you were Stepping Stone’s first death…
Two weeks before your passing you started seeing angels. You saw Gramps, Uncle Dries, your father and Auntie Marlene. Then a week before your passing you said “My whole room is full of angels” You fought to stay alive every single day of your life. Eleven months ago you called a family meeting and told us that you had decided enough is enough. No more surgeries. No more hospitals.
Over the past 11 months you made your final wishes known. You planned your memorial service. You spoke to the boys about what was important. I personally got a long list of do’s and don’t’s.
Just before Christmas you said you were worried about me. That you could see I thought you would bounce back again…You said you were dying…You could feel the changes in your body. But like 95% of the people in this church today I honestly though you would bounce back and defy death once again!
The day you were born you filled my entire life. You were always my first and last thought. I feel numb and as if I am in a bubble. You will be happy to know that we have been surrounded by love and support. But it still feels as if the world should have stopped because you left it.
Vic, I miss you so much already and I don’t know if I can take this pain anymore. But then I think, how can I be sad when I know you’re in a better place? How can I be sad when you brought me so much happiness? How can I be sad when God is already working miracles through you? How can I be sad when I feel like the luckiest person on earth to have been chosen to be your mother? How can I be sad when God gave you to me for 14,019 days, 20 hours and 15 minutes? I thank God every day for the time we shared together.
Baby, I promise you today we will be the support system for the boys you wanted. We love them so much. No-one in the world can ever take your place. We promise we will keep your memories alive. We will honour our promises to you.
So now we must bid you farewell. It is your time to run, free from pain and suffering. We will always love you. We will never forget you.