Posted in A Mother's Grief, Angels, Anniversary of my child's death, Death of a child, Family, Family Life, Terminal Illness, Vicky Bruce

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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68  20121203_202928

Posted in A Mother's Grief, Bereavement, Death, Death of a child, Family, Grief, Terminal Illness, Vicky Bruce

Your children are not your children…


Of course I have read the words of Khalil Gibran many times. Yet this morning I read these words with and through different eyes. I read the blog post of one of my favourite bloggers –

http://deodatusblog.wordpress.com/2013/09/10/your-children-are-not-your-children-they-are-sons-and-daughters-of-lifes-longing-for-itself-says-khalil-gibran/ and was overwhelmed with the exquisite words of guidance contained in this beautiful poem.

Read this with me.

Your children are not your children.

“Your children are not your children.
They are sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.  
They come through you but not from you.
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the make upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness.
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He also loves the bow that is stable.”                        
– Khalil Gibran

As a mother who carried a precious baby in her womb for almost 9 months my eyes lingered on the words “They come through you but not from you.” Vic came from me? An umbilical cord that was never severed, bound us together from the first second she were conceived. Even though death took my child from me the umbilical cord of love that bounds us cannot be severed. My love for Vic supersedes the bonds of death.

So no, I don’t agree with Gibran although I understand what he is saying. In this case I prefer literally translating his words…

                                      And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.                                                                    You may give them your love but not your thoughts,                                                                 For they have their own thoughts..

 How poignantly true these words are. As a parent it was horrible watching Vic make mistakes…knowing that her actions and decisions would lead to heartache and tears. How I wished that she would see things my way! My way would have been the safe way. Vic would have been spared rivers of tears and mountains of heartache. My way would have deprived her of great joy and happiness. As a mother I picked up pieces, held her and loved her. I could not protect her. Vic had her own thoughts!

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You may house their bodies but not their souls,     For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

 I housed Vic’s little body. The moment of greatest sadness in my life was when Vic’s soul left her body. I was grateful that her suffering was over but devastated that our journey as mother and daughter was over. I knew that she instantly became an elevated being removed from the hardship and indignity that she suffered on earth. I knew that she would never be prod, cut, hurt or be humiliated again. As her mother, I bathed her and dressed her one last time, as I did when she was born. No other prying, clinical hands would touch her again. I was beyond grief knowing that I would never be able to talk to her again. I would never hold her again. I would never hear her say “Love you Mommy” again. My soul mate, my life was gone. My child’s soul now dwells in the house of tomorrow that I cannot visit or even comprehend.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.  For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.  For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

 I never wanted Vic to be like me. Vic was strong, brave, loved, cherished, admired, gentle, loving, forgiving and vulnerable. I am tough, logical and emotionally distant. I allow very few people close to me and, if they betray my love and trust, I cut them out of my life. As a little girl, Vic said to me “I don’t want to be like you Mommy. I just want to be a normal mummy.” Vic was the one who taught me patience, unconditional love, forgiveness and to take a chance on life and love. Vic lived every second of her life. She did not fear emotion. She did not fear love and trust. I pray that her sons will remember these qualities their mother possessed. I pray that they will be more like her than me. I did however love Vic first and everyone else second… Jon-Daniel(1)

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.  The archer sees the make upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.  Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness.  For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He also loves the bow that is stable.”

 I was the bow that send my precious girl-child forth. 

The boys do archery as an extracariculum activity. To be a good archer you need consistent anchor points: An anchor point is the place on your face where you pull the string back to consistently. This anchor point should be exactly the same all the time for a consistent grouping of shots. My parents taught me, by example, the importance consistency in values, discipline and love.

An archers grip on the bow handle should be lax and comfortable. My first instinct as a parent was “to grip the bow hard to stabilize it”. My parents taught me to be a comfortable parent. I did my best. I could not do more. No amount of tightening the grip on Vic, her discipline or my love and caring for her would have made me a better parent. My grip was lax and comfortable. My child was an amazing example to the world.

 Whether you’re doing target archery, 3D archery, or bow hunting, it is vital to concentrate and focus on one precise spot that you want to hit. As a parent is was difficult to stay focused all the time. Lots of things “get in the way” of parenting. A new love, work, own dreams and ambitions…Yet I gave birth to my incredible baby girl and I knew I had to remain focused. Vic had to come first. She did not chose to be born. I chose to give birth to her.

 Archers are told that to be relaxed whilst aiming, is one of the great secrets to success… As a parent it was almost impossible to relax. I spent my child’s life trying to keep her alive. If I relaxed I know it could have led to her death. When your child is sickly, you are overprotective… Today I wish I had relaxed more. I wish I had spent more time discussing things that, mattered to Vic than the number and colour of her bowel movements and vomiting sessions. I wish I had relaxed about her smoking. Smoking did not kill her. Doctors did.

 “At the heart of it, mastery is practice. Mastery is staying on the path.” With parenting we practice as we go. We don’t ever stop or give up. I wish that we had more gladness in our lives and less sorrow and pain.

 What I am certain of is that I was a stable bow. I was unwavering in my love and commitment to Vic and now her boys. The Great Archer held us in His great Hands.

 I found this beautiful poem on http://warrenlgdemills.com/2013/05/11/umbilical-cords-a-mothers-day-poem/. Warren is an amazing poet and I have found much solace in his words.

Umbilical Cords – A Mother’s Day Poem
Posted: May 11, 2013 in Affections
Tags: love, mother’s day, poems, Poetry 1

Umbilical cords
Are but metaphors
To represent the eternal
Connection between mother
And child.

Though that cord may be severed
That love supersedes the bonds of death.
For they are the cords of life!

When a child is born
so is a mother.
It is the graduation of a girl
To a woman.
The transition from
Woman to mother.
The ascension of adult
To goddess, creator of life.

Oh great goddess,
Would you understand
The power within you?
Would you fathom
the role you play
On the stage of life?

By your love
Is a great man groomed.
By your neglect
is his future family doomed.
By your touch
Is intimacy first understood.
By your hand
Does he separate bad from good.

Oh great goddess,
For every good child
Reared from your breast
There is a star in the cosmos
To be named after you.

Though that cord was cut
You replaced it with one unseen
Your care, patience for years,
To provide the world with one more
Decent young man to make this world
A better place.

-WLGDM

All Rights Reserved. Property of Warren L.G De Mills. Copyright @ 2013.

Jared♡ĶįƦƧƳ.Ș♡(1)

Posted in A Mother's Grief, Death, Death of a child, Family, Family Life, Grief, Vicky Bruce

A Mother’s Love Quotes


In honour of Mother’s Day I would like to share some of my favorite Mother quotes.

Pilgrim Peace  “Pure love is a willingness to give without a thought of receiving anything in return.”

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No language can express the power, and beauty, and heroism, and majesty of a MOTHER’s love.  It shrinks not where man cowers, and grows stronger where man faints, and over wastes of worldly fortunes sends the radiance of its quenchless fidelity like a star. ~Edwin Hubbell Chapin.

Vic and her boys 1999
Vic and her boys 1999

A MOTHER is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.~Washington Irving.

A man loves his sweetheart the most, his wife the best, but his mother the longest. — Irish Proverb.

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The natural state of motherhood is unselfishness. When you become a mother, you are no longer the center of your own universe. You relinquish that position to your children.  Jessica Lange.

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MOTHER’s love for her child is like nothing else in the world. It knows no law, no pity, it dares all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path.   Agatha Christie.

A mother_s love

All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That’s his. –Oscar Wilde,The Importance of Being Earnest

When your mother asks, “Do you want a piece of advice?” it is a mere formality. It doesn’t matter if you answer yes or no. You’re going to get it anyway. –Erma Bombeck

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Motherhood is neither a duty nor a privilege, but simply the way that humanity can satisfy the desire for physical immortality and triumph over the fear of death. –Rebecca West

A mother’s love is patient and forgiving when all others are forsaking, it never fails or falters, even though the heart is breaking. -Helen Rice

A mother’s arms are more comforting than anyone else’s. –Diana, Princess of Wales

Vic and I in healthier days
Vic and I in healthier days

The hand that rocks the cradle Is the hand that rules the world. -W. R. Wallace

Vic and her boys on the beach.
Vic and her boys on the beach.

Mother’s Love for Her Very Sick Child

I know that I would do all things for you.

My spirit would always take care of you.

And when I die and leave this world behind.

You can be rest assured that my love will stay behind.

Even though sometimes we’re far apart.

You have always remained right here in my heart.

I will forever whisper in the wind

Unconditional love that’ll forever stay within.

If only I could go wherever you go

So I could do things I need to do for you.

Since I can’t, the best sacrifice I can give

is keep you in my heart and allow you to leave.

I’m lifting up the burden in your heart

‘Cause I know that you don’t know where to start.

I’m transferring all the pain inside of you

Into my care, into my heart, and now it’s through.

I love you so much and I know that I can bear

This greatest pain to let you go, I swear.

Know in your heart that my love will forever stay

Even though I would seem so far-away.

I’ll be your strength that’s why I’m relieving you

Of all the pain and tears inside of you.

No need to worry for all your pain will be gone.

It will be with me now, and I shall carry on.

You may think I’m letting you go without a fight.

If you only knew how I fought for you each night.

Just remember that there are signs everywhere.

So look around and acknowledge that they are there.

God said to me that love will always prevail.

And each day there is a tale for you to tell.

If you could already see the signs before your eyes.

Embrace it now. Let it stay. It is your guide.

God said the signs may be a word or two

When you least expect it, it is said to you.

It may also be the people that you have met.

Places, names, or things that you kept.

God told me to tell all these things to you

So happiness would set in and peacefulness, too.

I’m always here, and I’ll always love you.

I never wanted you to be in pain. It’s OK for you to go.

Read more: http://authspot.com/poetry/a-poem-about-a-mothers-love-for-her-very-sick-child/#ixzz1zxfdNb9o

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Posted in Daily Post 2012, Family, Grief, Terminal Illness, Vicky Bruce

Vic has left home for the last time…


My beautiful Vic sleeping peacefully 10.1.2013.
My beautiful Vic sleeping peacefully 10.1.2013.

For a long time after Vic had breathed her last breath I lay next to her.  I touched her face and hugged her close to me.  Something I could not do in life as I may have fractured a bone or two.  Everybody left me alone with Vic.  I was so grateful for that precious time with my angel child.

I washed Vic and dressed her in her favourite pyjamas.  It was so difficult trying to dress her limp body.  Although I knew it did not matter anymore I was scared I would hurt her.  Years of conditioning I suppose.  I was shocked to see that a large part of her body had already discoloured.  Her right hand shoulder, her back and the top of her legs were black and blue.  When I washed her little body at 7am that morning, a mere 3.5 hours earlier, only her little toes had started discolouring… Her back was still so warm from the fever that had racked her body.  Her hands, feet and face were cold to the touch. 

I brushed her beautiful hair. 

Then I realised that the boys could not come home until Vic had been “removed”.  I phoned Siza to pronounce Vic and the undertakers and requested that they send their people to come and fetch my child.  I lay with her for a further 30 minutes.  I held her tight and cried for her.  I just wanted to die.

Siza, arrived…. She was so matter of fact about Vic’s passing.  She put cotton wool in my child’s mouth because Vic’s jaw had relaxed!  I wish I never saw that!

Just before 1pm the undertakers arrived.  I was torn.  I did not want her to go but I could see that her beautiful soul had left her body.  It was no longer my beautiful baby girl who lay in that bed.  In death Vic looked like a stranger… yet I felt that if Vic left that room she would forever be gone.  Strange…..

The undertakers walked into Vic’s room.  They were so smartly dressed in dark suits, white shirts and red ties. 

They hugged me and said “When you are ready… We can wait”.

I remember thinking “I look so ugly when I cry.  These strangers can see me cry!”.  I nodded and they wheeled in a gurney type “bed”.

They meticulously folded up the outer cover to reveal a plastic sheet.   They lowered the gurney to the same level as Vic’s bed and took her from my arms…

Someone said “Be careful.  She breaks bones easily…”

They lay Vic on this horrible plastic sheet and covered her in it.  I wanted to die.  I still want to die just thinking of it.  My beautiful baby girl, who only deserved Egyptian cotton, wrapped in hard plastic!!  They quickly replaced the cover and zipped it close.  I think my sobs were driving them mad.

Vic looked so tiny on that darn gurney!  Tiny and dead!!

Minutes after one my baby girl left home for the last time.  Never again would she grace us with her presence.  Never again would she shuffle down the passage, never again would we hear her laughter or her cries of pain.

Vic left home – forever.

Posted in Daily Post 2012, Family, Family Life, Grief, Uncategorized, Vicky Bruce

Terrorists and angels


I have come to the conclusion that life is about missing people.

When I am in South Africa I miss the UK girls and when I am in the UK I miss the South African grandchildren…

I am having a wonderful time.  The girls are amazing.  Michaela has very aptly nicknamed Georgia, the middle girl, Osama… and Chloe the eldest “Bin Laden”….. Georgia (Osama) has the face of an angel…  She also has a mind of her own.  She knows what she wants and will not compromise!  When Georgia says “Me wants…” she means it!  She is fiercely independent and very bright!  She idolizes her daddy and wants her mommy to put her to bed and lie with her at night!  She falls asleep in the naughty corner…

Osama in disguise!

Chloe (Bin Laden) is heartbreakingly beautiful!  She is 4 years 10 months and just started Big School.  She knows her alphabet and numbers, she can write her own name, identify and read words!  Chloe has a “boyfriend” and she writes him letters “Freddy I love you”….  Chloe remembers South Africa and says she wants to go back home with me.  She has packed a bag and it is standing at the bottom of the staircase!

Bin Laden at rest!

Chloe is a daddy’s Girl.  She challenges her mommy all the time and is stubborn!  She will not apologize if she believes she is in the right!

The family Angel

Mackenzie is an angel!  I think God knew Danie and Michaela needed a break after the first two terrorists!  Her smile reaches her eyes.   Her sisters absolutely adore her.  She is fed-up with her bottle and is ready to switch to a cup like her sisters!

Two more sleeps and the girls go back to their own beds and I go back to missing them!

I am happy to report that Vic is doing well!  I think I am having a mild “separation anxiety” attack but I quickly drowned it in ice-cream!

 

Posted in Awards, Chronic Pain, Family Life, Grief, Palliative Care, Religion in my world, Terminal Illness, Uncategorized, Vicky Bruce

Danie – the “Wind Beneath My Wings”!


Today my beloved Danie turned 74.  He is an absolutely amazing person.  He has the wonderful ability to love and to be loved.

I met this amazing man through mutual friends 24 years ago.  It was two weeks before his 50th birthday.  I casually asked whether he was going to have a big party and he said “no”.  He was newly divorced and did not feel up to a party.  In a moment of pity I said “Well, nobody should be alone on his birthday.  If you are not doing anything pop around for a glass of wine…”

He duly popped around for a glass of wine.  After a couple of glasses of wine I asked him if he had dinner.  He said “No” and I said I would see if I could throw together a tuna salad…  I opened my fridge and it was pretty empty.  Some salad stuff, milk, apples and a couple of bottles of wine…

I managed to put a salad together but I could see the birthday boy was not overly impressed.  I was not concerned at all.  He was far too good looking and newly divorced so I did not want to get involved with him.  I had been divorced for many years and Vic was used to it just being the two of us.

I dodged all Danie’s advances for more than a year.  On the 8th of December 1989 I accompanied Danie to a black tie event.  At the function I could not help but notice the reverence his colleagues had for him.  He danced like a dream and remembered that it was my birthday at 12 O Clock….  It was truly a fairy tale night and I fell hopelessly in love.

Vic immediately sensed that there was danger!  She referred to him as “that man”…. She cried a lot and wanted to come home from boarding school.  Vic made a 360 degree turn around.   She went from wanting to go to boarding school to wanting to move home… from independent to needy… from being a difficult teenager to being an impossible teenager.

I met Danie’s children.  I was terrified!  I did not know or like children.  My life was structured, neat, organized and perfect.  I was totally committed to my career.  I had property, a business, lots of friends, a healthy bank balance and my own toolbox.  I did not need any complications in my life!!

I prayed so hard so direction… I explained to God that I was so scared of making a mistake that would affect so many people’s lives.  I asked for a clear scripture!

I opened my Bible and the scripture that jumped up at me was Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 “9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! 11 Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? 12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”

I immediately went back on my knees and prayed again.  “God, thank you for the scripture you gave me but what about all the children?”

I opened my Bible and it fell open on page 793 of the Old Testament.  Isaiah 54:1-17 “Sing, O barren one, who did not bear; break forth into singing and cry aloud, you who have not been in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than the children of her who is married,” says the Lord. “Enlarge the place of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out; do not hold back; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes. For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left, and your offspring will possess the nations and will people the desolate cities. “Fear not, for you will not be ashamed; be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced; for you will forget the shame of your youth, and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more. “

Barren? That was me…  The day after Danie’s 52nd birthday we were married.

So tomorrow this wonderful man and I will celebrate our 22ND Anniversary.  We have managed to create a “home” for our five children.  The children, I feared, I now love as my own.  Two of the four call me “Mom”.  Their children are MY grandchildren.  They allow us to be part of the children’s lives and do not discriminate between the grandmothers.  From the day we were married Vic has called Danie “Daddy”.  Danie’s four children are her siblings.  They are our infrastructure.

Danie has been so absolutely amazing with Vic and her illness.  When my dad moved in with us Danie just accepted it as part of our journey.  He was incredibly patient with my Dad who suffered from Alzheimers.  He is my back-up system.  His selfless, caring nature has allowed me to pursue my career.  I am able to travel internationally for my work as he is home…..he is my back-up.  He fetches and carries the boys.  He checks on Vic and loves her and the boys unconditionally.  He shops and manages the home in my absence.  He thinks I am beautiful and smart.

This beautiful man is more than I deserve.  I love him with every fiber of my body.  I am grateful to him for the gift of his children and grandchildren every day of my life.  I am grateful that he taught me the biggest commandment of all – love!

So tonight I salute a wonderful man, husband, father and grandfather.  He is my best friend.  He is an amazing father to Vic.  Thank you God!

He is truly “The wind beneath my wings”  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9ZMDPf9hZw&feature=colike

Posted in Family Life, Jared, Religion in my world, Terminal Illness, Uncategorized, Vicky Bruce

Kingdom of the Child


I read this beautiful poem and have taken the liberty to repost it.  I have spent some time in Afghanistan and this reminded me of life in some of the rural villages.
The poem forms part of the Collection of Poems – D.L. McHale, 1981-2011 – It is a site worth visiting.  http://dlmchale.com/2012/07/01/1087

Kingdom of the Child

Why do you weep, my child?
How long have you been sitting here, trembling
beneath these glossy-green leaves of the Banyan,
heavy laden with delicious figs?

Why are you frightened so?
The world is no bigger than you can handle
in any given moment, and you are not alone!
I promise.

Why do you moan, my precious one?
Have I not taught you the melodies
of your father’s father?
Shall I sing for you the soothing songs of your village
where you played “Mboo-bay Mboo-bay”
with your brothers and sisters?

Why such silence, my dear?
Do you not know that the sound of your voice
is as a thousand angels laughing and giggling
beside the cool riverbed.

Why do you hide from me?
Have I not held you warmly in my embrace
and rocked you to and fro
when you were frightened by the lions roar?

You know me, sweetness.
I rule the world with a benevolent hand
as I dry your tears, carry your burdens,
sing your songs, play your games
and hold you close.

Come, offer me your hand and rule with me.
Let us spin the earth like a child’s toy
as we munch on afternoon clouds
and drink oceans from a silver cup.
To your feet, my child.
We have other children
beneath other Banyans
that need our love and reassurance.

Posted in Chronic Pain, Family Life, Grief, Jared, Terminal Illness, Uncategorized, Vicky Bruce

“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.

Posted in Chronic Pain, Family Life, Grief, Terminal Illness, Uncategorized, Vicky Bruce

Whispered secrets



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