Posted in A Mother's Grief, Bereavement, Death of a child, Grief, Osteogenesis Imperfecta, Vicky Bruce

Time to say goodbye


Time to say Goodbye is a beautiful song and I especially enjoy the André Bochelli and Sarah Brightman version. It was the boys and my theme song on this holiday. A Time to Say Goodbye and heal….

As we toured Europe we lived Vic’s dream. It was her dream to go to Italy, stand in the Cistern Chapel, drink cuppachino’s on the streets of Rome, wander through the Christmas Mart stalls savouring the smell of Gluhwein and melted cheese….

I am filled with profound sadness every time I think of my child. Even if she lived Vic would never have been able to make the trip. The flight would have been too long, the cobblestone streets impossible for her wheelchair, the bus trips too long…

I cried when I saw the Pietà in the Cistern Chapel. This beautiful piece of art in a convoluted way symbolised Vic and my lives…

Both Mary and I were child brides. She was much younger than I was when she gave birth to Jesus – it is written that Mary was 12 years old at the time of her Son’s birth. Her child filled with wisdom and teaching as was mine… I once again realised, on this trip, how infinitely wise Vic was. She knew that I would have to remove myself from everyday life to heal.

She made me promise to do this trip with the boys.

Looking at the Pietà I saw a mother holding the body of her lifeless child. Tears filled my soul when I remembered holding the body of my lifeless child. For a fleeting moment I felt the heat that radiated from her fever wracked little body. I could hear the thundering silence from her breathing that had stopped…

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I saw the lonely sadness of a mother isolated from the world in her grief. I recognised that isolation that I experienced at the second of Vicky’s death.

I stood there and realised that it will never change. I will always be isolated in my grief and longing for the child that I lived for. No one in the world could possibly love her the way I did. She was blood of my blood.

She loved her boys the way I loved her. She loved her boys with every fibre in her body. Her thoughts, fears and sorrow centred on her sons until she breathed her last breath. The blood of her blood. Her future…

Standing in front of the Pietà I realised that the closest bond is the bond between a mother and a child. Not a child and a mother…. Children move on and live for their children

Walking the streets of Europe I was filled with an all-consuming anger. Anger at God, anger at careless doctors; angry at a horrific disease called Osteogenesis Imperfecta. I was angry at the fact that my child was robbed. Robbed of a life with her boys. That I was robbed of a lifetime with my child.

As the old Year is edging towards the New I am filled with trepidation and horrific sadness. Not only for my Vic but for the many who crossed my path this year and who are enfolded in their own grief.

So much pain, longing and sadness as we look to starting another year without our loved ones.

I have survived my birthday, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Jared’s birthday. I have cried on my own, in the shower, in shops. I have been filled with rage and despair when I saw all the Christmas cards “For my Daughter”… I will never buy another card for my precious child. I will never be able to open gifts with her under the Christmas tree. Nothing will ever be the same again.

In three weeks’ time it will be Vic’s 2 year anniversary. Two long years without my child, my best friend…

I read that it gets worse as time goes by. It does get worse. The raw sadness has dissolved into a steady all-consuming pain. The longing to hold her one more time overwhelming.

And, although I know that it is Time to Say Goodbye I know I will never move on.

Posted in A Mother's Grief, Angels, Bereavement, Chronic Pain, Death, Death of a child, Grief, Hospice, Terminal Illness, Vicky Bruce

Thank you God 17.12.2012 – One year ago


Thank you God

I just finished a batch of choc-chip cookies.  The house is quiet and sweet smell of the biscuits has permeated the air.  The Christmas tree lights are flicking and the first batch of gifts beautifully wrapped.  It is the season of Christmas. Two weeks ago I despaired that Vic would not live to see Christmas. Dr Sue came and saw Vic this morning.  She lanced the cellulitis abscess on Vic’s arm.  My baby girl was so brave!! Sue told us of a young man who came to see her in her rooms with a small abscess in his face.   He cried with pain.  Sue told Vic what a brave person she is…I was so proud of my little girl. Vic’s heart and pulse rate is very elevated.  She has a kidney infection.  Kidney infections make her tired. I just checked on Vic, and she is sleeping so peacefully.  She has a serene expression on her beautiful face, and she is truly pain-free tonight. Sitting here I am counting my blessings. My baby girl is home.  I cannot begin to imagine how difficult it would have been if Vic lived elsewhere or if she was married or involved.  I can now care for my child without having to consider my “position” in her life.  I am able to be her mommy and take care of her. The boys are settled and happy living with us.  We love having them so close to us.  They are such well-behaved, kind and helpful boys!  Before Vic moved home the boys, mainly Jared, had to cook most days.  Now they are able to be children. Life has settled into an easy routine.  We have laughter and fun.  We cry and despair.  We hug.  We talk and constantly affirm our love for one another. Vic is spending a lot of time with her boys – talking.  She helped with the preparations for Jared’s 16th birthday party.  Vic passed me the spices when I baked this year’s Christmas cakes.  We laughed when we decided the cake needed another “splash of brandy”.  Vic “chose” her Christmas Cake. My wonderful husband is such an amazing person.  He is my rock and pillar.  He loves and protects us. I am happy and content with our lives. Thank you God for this time of closeness.  
Posted in A Mother's Grief, Angels, Bereavement, Death of a child, Grief, Vicky Bruce

Badge of honour


It is the silly season. The season of madness. It’s the time for holiday merriment with its relentlessly upbeat expectations, sometimes forced, especially for those of us grieving the loss of a loved one.

No matter where I or what I am doing, there is always one thought that is in the forefront of my mind: “My child is dead”. That thought can never be erased. It has become a part of my soul.

I sense an impatience in some people for me to “get over it”, “put it in the past”, “stop dwelling on your loss”, or “move forward”

Yes, I have moved forward, but I can never forget. There is an aching in my soul and a hole in my heart. There is always a part of me that is always aware that “my child is dead.” I will never be complete again. Nothing or no one can fill the place my child had in my life and heart!

Like a drowning person I am grabbing onto symbolic things – an angel garden, burning candles, a memorial light in a tree of remembrance, a Hospice….. These symbolic things simultaneously provides solace, searing pain and anger.

On Friday night the Tree of Remembrance was lit at the premises where our Hospice building is. I was filled with such immense sadness that I was unable to contain my tears. I know that I was not the only one moved by the lighting of the tree. I was flanked by a dear friend who lost her husband nine months ago and a colleague who lost her mother a year ago. Gentle tears ran down their cheeks. Jared, my eldest grandson who stood behind me, put his arms around me and whispered “I miss Mommy too…”


Many bereaved people will pretend this is just another holiday season. It isn’t. I refuse to pretend that it is.

This will be my first birthday, our first Christmas, Jared’s 17th birthday and New Year without Vic. My birthday I hope to ignore. Christmas Eve we will spend at Lani’s house with a lot of people we don’t know. I know there will be no room for thought. There will be a lot of food, gifts, talking, laughing…. Christmas Day I will go to a squatter camp with Reuben and the children in his church. We will provide the poor with a meal. Jared’s birthday – we will all make a huge effort to make special… New Year’s I will remember knowing last year that Vic was dying. That it was her last New Year.

Dick Lumaghi, bereavement coordinator for Hospice of Ukiah says “The depth of a grief is exactly proportional to the depth of attachment; from one perspective, a deep grief is a badge of honour, a big love between two people.”

I do wear my grief as a badge of honour. My precious child was gentle, kind, compassionate, beautiful, loyal and loving. She earned every tear I have ever shed. She earned ever tear I will ever shed. I wish people would understand that it’s total impossible for me to “get over it”, “put this in the past”, “stop dwelling on your loss”, or “move forward”.

I love my child. I miss my child. I want my child home with me.


Posted in Angels, Death, Death of a child, Family, Grief, Terminal Illness, Vicky Bruce

An empty bottle of coffee


Vic's favorite beverage
Vic’s favorite beverage

2 months, 6 days or rather 65 days totalling 93,600 minutes or 1560 hours since Vic died…. Each minute feels like a lifetime of misery.

Every minute that passes pushes me further down into this horrible well of misery and despair.

Vic was an absolute coffee addict.  She would systematically drink her way through a 200g bottle of Jacob Kronung coffee per week. Vic drank a minimum of least 15 cups of coffee every day of her life.  Vic stopped drinking coffee just before Christmas.  It made her ill. She starting drinking Energade – naartjie flavour.  For the last month of her life it was all she drank.

Well, Vic’s last bottle of coffee is almost finished…I am dreading anyone asking for coffee…I want the coffee to last.  It is a link to my child.  How stupid does this sound??  Stupid or not it is the way I feel.  I have an unused bottle of coffee in the pantry.  I am weeping because of an almost empty bottle of coffee!

At night I lie on my sofa in my TV lounge waiting for her to either BBM or shuffle down the passage… “Could I please have some coffee Mommy?” I have cried myself into oblivion this weekend.  Danie is in Cape Town and the boys are with their Dad.  It is safe to cry.

The nights are so long without our chats.

 

 

 

Posted in Death, Death of a child, Family, Family Life, Grief, Terminal Illness, Vicky Bruce

The process of preparing for death


My beautiful baby girl
My beautiful baby girl

A while ago I read the following “When you, a friend, or a loved one is diagnosed with a terminal illness, a process is begun: the process of preparing for death. For many, this time of preparation can be transformed into a rewarding, comforting ending, giving meaning to life, and dignity to death.” Terminal Illness – Preparing for Death – Dealing with Illness

Today a mere 24 days after my child stopped breathing I re-examined this statement.

“When you, a friend, or a loved one is diagnosed with a terminal illness, a process is begun: the process of preparing for death.”  This is so true.  In one foul sweep everything changes!  The way one approach every day; every birthday, Christmas and New Year… One sets small goals.  You learn to appreciate the small things in life – having a cup of coffee with a friend, celebrating another Mother’s Day, living long enough to see the newborn of a loved one…

Last will and testament … setting up trusts for the children; sorting out photos; tidying up cupboards; making decisions whether to have a funeral or cremation….Just close your eyes and feel the terror of planning your own memorial service….  Feel the terror of knowing that your organs are shutting down….feel the terror of knowing that you will have to say goodbye to your loved ones – that they will walk out of your room and you will never see them again, feel the touch of their gentle hands, never hold your sons again…..  Imagine knowing that your life is running out.  Knowing that soon you will breathe your last breath!

This is what my Vic experienced.  She kept asking her BFF, Angela, “How do I say goodbye?”  Vic would cry  and hold onto Angela.  “Don’t go!  Please stay”.

Imagine being on death row with the execution date set.  The process has begun…. The condemned gets to make a will, meet his family for the last time, write his last letters, order his last meal and wonder what death will feel like…

Vic was scared.  She feared death.  She feared not knowing how death would feel….she feared closing her eyes and not ever seeing her loved ones again.

“For many, this time of preparation can be transformed into a rewarding, comforting ending, giving meaning to life, and dignity to death”….  What a load of hogwash!  No matter how much love surrounds the dying person there is no dignity in death.  How can death be rewarding?

It is however an amazing experience to witness the transition of the body when the soul leaves!

This time of preparation is a time filled with trepidation and fear.  Nobody KNOWS what lies beyond your final breath.  What is the Catholics are correct and you head for purgatory?  No one is sin free….What if Islam is correct and you are a Christian?  Then you are doomed to hell!  Hopefully the Christian faith will allow us entry into Heaven…. We will only know when we die!

Comforting time?  What comfort can there be in dying?  No more pain? Sure!  That is certainly comforting but what about the terrible, terrible knowledge that one will be separated from your loved ones?  The love that enshrouded you all your life will be plucked from your existence!  The love will continue but there is a divide between life and death that cannot be crossed!

Meaning to life?  Yes that is true I suppose if you are distant and removed from your family or loved ones or if you had a “purposeless” life.  Dying does give an opportunity to live each day, not waste time procrastinating or living in anger.

Dignity in death?  There is no dignity in a lingering death.  Bit by bit the terminally ill lose their dignity.  Every day there is some new loss to mourn.  The final days, if they are lucky, they will be sedated.  If not they will writhe in pain, choking on their own phlegm and gasping for breath, their hearts racing and delusional from fever.

People around the dying become scared and start praying for their deaths…I know because I did!  People stop visiting because they want to remember the dying person as a healthy, happy person….The terminally ill cease to exist to most of the world long before they die.

Stepping Stone Hospice has 26 patients.  We have had 12 deaths to date – Vic being the first.  Stepping Stone has allowed the dying to die pain-free.  Maybe the rewarding ending is for the living?

 

 

 

 

 

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

Rest in Peace My Angle Child 22.1.2013


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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.

Rest in Peace my Angel Child. 

 

 

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

“Sisters by Heart”


Vic lost the Christmas gift she bought Esther. It is not the first time this has happened – Vic previously bought Esther a “Sister” fridge magnet and mislaid it somewhere…

Vic has spent a lot of time sorting out some last things – double checking her insurance policies, photo albums, writing cards for the boys to be read on the first Christmas, first anniversary, final school exam…  She has been going tick, tick, tick…Oops Outstanding item: Esther’s gift!

I have searched the house and not found the sentimental nick-nacks Vic bought Esther for Christmas.  I have driven around and looked for replacement gifts, but to no avail.  So yesterday Vic said to Esther “Sis, I have to replace your Christmas gift…  I cannot move on before I do that…Mommy is taking me to Eastgate tomorrow.  I know I will find it there.”

Esther, who has a superb sense of humour, said “I won’t let you die before I get my present…What time are we leaving tomorrow?”

Early this morning Vic was dressed and ready for the excursion.  At about 11am we set off shopping (after a hefty pain and nausea injection…) At the second shop we struck gold!  (I actually found the gift she was looking for.)  Vic had the salesperson wrap it with Christmas gift wrap.   She is a stickler for “attention to detail”

Mission accomplished we went to a restaurant for lunch.  As usual Vic agonised over the menu.  She wanted a salmon dish with cream cheese – No salmon…. Arghhh!  She settled for a sandwich and coffee.

The gift Vic bought was a Willow Tree figurine set of two girls holding hands.  “Just like we lay and chatted last night Sis…”

Sisters by Heart

Celebrating a treasured friendship of sharing and understanding

 “I’m very close to my sisters, and the friendship and support of other women has always enriched my life. I also realize that there are friends or other relatives that may not be blood sisters, but share this same type of closeness.”

 

Vic and Esther are step sisters.  There is no blood bond, but they are bound by their deep love for one another.  Esther has been an absolute pillar of strength to Vic and the rest of the family.  Daily Esther sends Vic beautiful text messages.  She brings Vic flowers from her garden.  She lies next to Vic and listens to her babbling.   Esther is the sister Vic never had.

Needless to say, Vic did not handle her lunch well and after a visit to the toilet we left.  I could see her heart beating like crazy in her neck.  People looked at us as far as we walked.  I realized with a shock that it is because Vic obviously looks ill and shuffles like an old person.  I look at her and I only see a beautiful young woman; my baby girl and the mother of my grandsons.

Vic is having a strange day… Her blood pressure is all over; her heart races and then slows down.

“Something is wrong mommy.”

This evening Vic double checked with me whether I remembered which hymns had to be sung at her memorial service.  She cried when she (again) named her pallbearers.  “Please don’t let me lie in a refrigerator for a long time Mommy…Let them cremate me as quickly as possible”

Vic asked that I get her minister to come and administer Holy Communion to her this week.

The whole situation is so surreal.  I find it impossible to believe that Vic may actually be dying.    She is so beautiful and her mind is crystal clear!  I think Vic is just caught up in the Hospice talk.  Maybe I am in denial.  She has not vomited blood for two days.  That is a good sign.  Google says her heart rate can go up to 250 and Vic’s HR is only at 120 and occasionally at 155.

Oh dear God please grant my child peace.  Please grant us all peace.

Sisters holding hands
Sisters holding hands

Celebrating a treasured friendship of sharing and understanding

"Sisters by Heart"
“Sisters by Heart”

 

Posted in Daily Post 2012, Religion in my world, Uncategorized, Vicky Bruce

At the end of the year…


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Reposted from Dr Bill Wooten – http://drbillwooten.com/2012/12/31/at-the-end-of-the-year/

“The particular mind of the ocean
Filling the coastline’s longing
With such brief harvest
Of elegant, vanishing waves
Is like the mind of time
Opening us shapes of days.

As this year draws to its end,
We give thanks for the gifts it brought
And how they became inlaid within
Where neither time nor tide can touch them.

The days when the veil lifted
And the soul could see delight;
When a quiver caressed the heart
In the sheer exuberance of being here.

Surprises that came awake
In forgotten corners of old fields
Where expectation seemed to have quenched.

The slow, brooding times
When all was awkward
And the wave in the mind
Pierced every sore with salt.

The darkened days that stopped
The confidence of the dawn.

Days when beloved faces shone brighter
With light from beyond themselves;
And from the granite of some secret sorrow
A stream of buried tears loosened.

We bless this year for all we learned,
For all we loved and lost
And for the quiet way it brought us
Nearer to our invisible destination.”

~ John O’Donohue

 

 

 

Posted in Chronic Pain, Daily Post 2012, Palliative Care, Terminal Illness, Vicky Bruce

I am scared


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Today was an horrible day.  Dr Sue spent a lot of time with Vic.  Siza (Hospice Nurse) was here too.

Vic’s BP is elevated and her heart rate fluctuates between 115 and 120.  Her breathing is laboured.  She appears to be a little jaundiced.  Sue says the vomiting is due to the kidney failure.

Tomorrow we will try and run some Perfalgan intravenously.  If only her veins were strong enough to tolerate an IV drip…

I am scared.

 

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

being – reposted


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One of my favorite poets posted this poem today.  It touched my heart and I wanted to share it with you.  Thank you Aarthi!  http://sickocean.wordpress.com/2012/12/26/being/#respond

for someone we love
we can be
the best of the needs, of love of life

what beautiful essence of life
is hidden in the moments when
you smile not for your own but for someone else

your love forever increases in amount
you grow all the more still and calm
you forgive and forget the greatest of harms

its the serenity of love when
you are holding someone to save
in empty moments their voice you crave

and when indeed life offers you a chance
you run away and hug them
singing to their heart your precious song

being human
is to love someone
so much beyond yourself

perhaps to an extent that
you forget your own pains
and their wounds make you cry…

 

Posted in Chronic Pain, Daily Post 2012, Family Life, Grief, Palliative Care, Religion in my world, Terminal Illness, Vicky Bruce

A time to be born and a time to die…


A ton of gifts ....
A ton of gifts ….

It is Christmas.  It is a warm, and sunny-day, and my heart is cold.

This is our last Christmas as a complete family.

Vic has been vomiting non-stop.  The acid has burnt the inside of her mouth.  Her derriere is so lumpy, black and blue from the constant injections.  Sr Siza popped in.  She examined Vic and started drawing up a Clopamon and Morphine injection.

“Please Sister, not my bum.  Please do it on my thigh.”

Vic no longer has an appetite.  She is sleeping at least 20 out of 24 hours.  Vic is very warm to the touch and appears flushed.  The thermometer reflects a temperature of 37 degrees C.

“Do you understand what your body is telling you Vic?”  Siza asked

Vic nodded and whispered “I do not want to die…”

“Nobody wants to die, Vicky.  We all will walk this path.  Some sooner than others… You have a degenerative illness and your body is tired…”

“You must surrender your body to God.  It is time for your brain to make peace with what is happening in your body.” Siza said.  “Where is your Bible?”

Siza read from Ecclesiastes 3 – New International Version (NIV)

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

Siza prayed for Vic and the family for peace and grace in this time.  Vic cried and Danie gently held her.

Danie, and I walked with Siza.  Her eyes were sad when she said “Her body is shutting down.  It could be quick or it could be a few weeks.”

The rest of Christmas Eve passed as if I was in a daze.  Lani and the kids arrived, my dear friend Judy arrived after a marathon charity event and the smell of gammon and roast lamb permeated the house.  The tables looked festive and there were tons of gifts under the tree.

Vic handed out the gifts.  The kids shrieked with delight.  A  lot of thought went into the gifts.  The gifts were truly gifts of love.

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

   a time to be born and a time to die,

Vic doing the Santa thing
Vic doing the Santa thing
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Vic, Lani and Tom
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Love is family…
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Our dear friend Judy, with Vic, and I. How beautiful is baby Izak?
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Danie and I with Vic
Posted in Chronic Pain, Daily Post 2012, Family, Family Life, Grief, Humour, Palliative Care, Terminal Illness, Vicky Bruce

I don’t want to die


Today has been a very, very bad day. Sr Siza was here when Vic had a violent vomiting spell. Yesterday Vic fractured a vertebra again. Her pain is out of control. Her breathing was shallow.

“I don’t want Jon-Daniel to see me now Mommy. It freaks him out when I can’t breathe” Vic pleaded

I lay behind her back, gently holding her whilst the tears wracked through her little body.

I don’t want to die Mommy. If only I can live for another year….. But I am so tired!” Vic softly cried

Do you think we will be able to do Italy Mommy?” she asked after a long silence

I hope so Baby. I think we must take the boys with us…” I replied

Oh Mommy, can we? We don’t have to go for a long time…” Vic said

We lay quietly for a while. Vic trying to breathe through her nausea and pain and I contemplating how I am going to pull off this Italy thing… Just imagine flying with a caseload of injections and a litre of morphine syrup…

Mommy, I don’t care what you do with my ashes… It was so hard putting my father’s ashes into that wall of remembrance! Are you going to be okay Mommy?” Vic cried

My heart stopped. This was so out of the blue… “You will always be with me. I will not put you into any wall” I said

“I will be your guardian angel.” Vic said

I know but remember I will need some privacy… “I said

Don’t worry Mommy! I will make sure my father doesn’t peep as well” Vic laughed through her tears

“I am scared Mommy…”

I am scared too Vic…”

Posted in Daily Post 2012, Family, Family Life, Religion in my world, Terminal Illness, Uncategorized, Vicky Bruce

Christmas’ Past…


Frozen turkeys to be cooked and carved!
Frozen turkeys to be cooked and carved!

Many years ago we started a project, where on Christmas Day, we would feed the under privileged.  The first year we fed approximately 300 people.  The last year (2008) that we ran the project, we fed 1500 people on Christmas Day.  We had three feeding points in different squatter camps and we also handed out little gifts of face cloths, soap, toothpaste and tooth brushes at a TB Clinic.

My late father, who suffered from Alzheimers, came to live with us in 2009, and since then I have not had the time, energy or finances to continue running the project.  The community has however started running a similar project, and they now fundraise themselves.  For many years I cooked up to 50 turkeys, made salad and cooked rice…  (I cannot handle the smell of turkey and my husband becomes nauseous when he has to carve turkey…)  I suppose we are all turkeyed out….

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One of the feeding points. The children are so patient and well-behaved!
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There is no greater joy than giving
Vic and her friend Lee and a community member sharing a happy moment!

“You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.” ― Amy Wilson-Carmichael

We also visited the TB Clinic and gave the children in the Pediatric Section gifts.  Young Elizabeth, an 11 year old girl, died two weeks later.  She never let go of her Christmas Teddy Bear…

Elizabeth and her Christmas Teddybear
Elizabeth and her Christmas Teddybear

“Presents are made for the pleasure of who gives them, not the merits of who receives them.”
― Carlos Ruiz ZafónThe Shadow of the Wind

A rare treat - a piece of cake for a TB patient on Christmas Day
A rare treat – a piece of cake for a TB patient on Christmas Day

“Give yourself entirely to those around you. Be generous with your blessings. A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal.”
― Steve MaraboliLife, the Truth, and Being Free

When my dad came to live with us I had to stop many of my community projects.  It broke my heart but I knew that it was my “family’s time”  In the words of Mother THeresa – “Let us make one point, that we meet each other with a smile, when it is difficult to smile. Smile at each other, make time for each other in your family.”

2012 will be a Christmas of making time for my family.

A couple of days ago Vic wistfully said “This is my last Christmas Mommy”  I hope she is well enough to have a Christmas that her boys will treasure and remember for the rest of their lives.  This may well be our last Christmas.

Christmas Eve 2009 - (L to R) Lee, Vic, My Dad and I
Christmas Eve 2009 – (L to R) Lee, Vic, My Dad and I

“It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” ― Mother Teresa

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

Thank you God


I just finished a batch of choc-chip cookies.  The house is quiet and sweet smell of the biscuits has permeated the air.  The Christmas tree lights are flicking and the first batch of gifts beautifully wrapped.  It is the season of Christmas. Two weeks ago I despaired that Vic would not live to see Christmas. Dr Sue came and saw Vic this morning.  She lanced the cellulitis
abscess on Vic’s arm.  My baby girl was so brave!! Sue told us of a young man who came to see her in her rooms with a small abscess in his face.   He cried with pain.  Sue told Vic what a brave person she is…I was so proud of my little girl. Vic’s heart and pulse rate is very elevated.  She has a kidney infection.  Kidney infections make her tired. I just checked on Vic and she is sleeping so peacefully.  She has a serene expression on her beautiful face and she is truly pain-free tonight. Sitting here I am counting my blessings. My baby girl is home.  I cannot begin to imagine how difficult it would have been if Vic lived elsewhere or if she was married or involved.  I can now care for my child without having to consider my “position” in her life.  I am able to be her mommy and take care of her. The boys are settled and happy living with us.  We love having them so close to us.  They are such well-behaved, kind and helpful boys!  Before Vic moved home the boys, mainly Jared, had to cook most days.  Now they are able to be children. Life has settled into an easy routine.  We have laughter and fun.  We cry and despair.  We hug.  We talk and constantly affirm our love for one another. Vic is spending a lot of time with her boys – talking.  She helped with the preparations for Jared’s 16th birthday party.  Vic passed me the spices when I baked this year’s Christmas cakes.  We laughed when we decided the cake needed another “splash of brandy”.  Vic “chose” her Christmas Cake. My wonderful husband is such an amazing person.  He is my rock and pillar.  He loves and protects us. I am happy and content with our lives. Thank you God for this time of closeness.