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

Mother and Child


In the 206 days since Vic died I have never missed her as much as now.

My UK daughter-in-law and her three girls are visiting. The poor little poppets have all had a gastric bug. The girls are amazing and I love them with every fibre in my body and they love me too. What struck me once again this week is that incredible bond between a mother and daughter. When a child is ill they want their Mommy. There is no substitute for a Mommy.

Dr Christiane Northrup, author of the book Mother-Daughter Wisdom (Hay House), says: “The mother-daughter relationship is the most powerful bond in the world, for better or for worse. It sets the stage for all other relationships.”

No other childhood experience is as compelling as a young girl’s relationship with her mother. Mothers impart on their daughters how she feels about being female, what she believes about her body, how she takes care of her health, and what she believes is possible in life.

Jennie Hannan, executive general manager of services at counselling provider Anglicare WA, agrees. “How a woman sees herself, how she is in her adult relationships with partners, and how she mothers her own children, is profoundly influenced by her relationship with her own mother,” she says.

When Vic was ill she wanted her Mommy. Last year, when she had her arm operation, she was so distraught in ICU that the staff asked me to stay with her around the clock. With each and every major surgery she ever had (excluding one knee operation), my face was the first she saw. Vic knew that I stayed outside the ICU until she was released into the ward. More often than not, I was not allowed to sit with her all the time but she knew I was there.

I am not exactly gifted in sewing or knitting… (It was the only subject I ever failed at school) yet I knitted Vic a massive blanket in 2007 sitting outside ICU and next to her hospital bed. I only ever knitted at hospital and I am a very slow knitter. If we had buried Vic I would have buried her wrapped in her blankie… My life ground to an absolute halt when Vic was in ICU or hospital.

Witnessing this incredible bond the past 2.5 weeks has brought back incredible memories of Vic sitting on my lap, her little arms curled around me and her head nestled into my neck. That incredible trust and reliance between us.

My daughter-in-law and I sit and chat into the early hours of the morning. She has a happy disposition. Her life revolves around her family. She has an easy laugh and great sense of humour. If ever I went into a Quiz Show and there was show business section I would want her next to my side. When she goes to bed she gives me a hug. I love this woman for her kindness and compassion.

I realised how much I have missed that companionship, our chats into the early hours of the morning. Somehow it truly made me realise that my child is dead and I am alone.

Jared, Vic’s eldest has come down with the girls’ gastric bug. His dad brought him home early because he wanted to be home…. He got straight into bed. I sat down next to him and asked him how he was feeling. I could hear the tears in his voice when he said “really ill…” I could hear the forlornness in his voice; his longing for his mother to be sitting on his bed.

Dear Mommy…                                                             Words could never explain what you mean to me…It always meant so much to me that no matter how bad you felt or how sick you were, you always went out of your way to do anything and everything you could for us… Always going out of your way to make everyone’s life easier especially mine…

You were always my hero… No matter how sick you were every morning you woke up and got dressed. Even if you didn’t do anything you always looked your best…

I love you so much mommy… You made such an impact on everyone’s life that you will never be forgotten…you will forever live in our memories as the bravest woman and best Mommy of all time…

No one will ever be able to replace you…

Jared

Jared is alone today. Jon-Daniel lit candles for Vic when he arrived home. Jon-Daniel is alone today.  How can such a tiny, sickly person leave such a horrific void in our lives? A mother and a child cannot be substituted or replaced. It is as simple as this.

Precious Vic, we miss you so much!!  We are all feeling miserable without you.  We miss that incredible bond we had with you.  We want you back at home.

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

There is pain after death



On the 10th of October 2012 I posted this:

Two days ago I reblogged a post “Is there pain after death” written by a Dr James Salwitz. This post elicited some comments – mainly from Vic. Vic has started reading the odd post of my blog. In a way I am truly okay with it but on the other hand I find it difficult to blog my fears and emotions knowing that Vic may read the post. I find that I have become guarded in what I am writing. I am thinking that I should blog about stuff that may allay Vic’s fears….

Yesterday Vic asked “Mommy, I know what we believe in but what if there is more pain after I died?”

“You read my blog?” I asked.

“Yes” Vic replied.

“Sweetie, I believe that when the time comes our loved ones will be our guardian angels and hold our hands whilst we cross over….”

“I know that Mommy but what if I am still in pain… What if the pain does not stop?”

“Sweetie, the pain that continues after death is the emotional pain that belong to the loved ones that are left behind. That is what the post is about…..”

Tears welled up in Vic’s eyes and she said “I know that Mommy but what if I am still in pain… What if the pain does not stop? What if your pain does not stop?”

Andrew, http://lymphomajourney.wordpress.com/, commented as follows… “Even before one leaves, I always thought it more difficult on my family to watch me go through what was pretty aggressive treatment than on me.”

sbcallahan, http://thedrsays.org commented…”this is one of the difficult things about being the one who leaves. to know that your loved ones are going to suffer more than they already have is heartbreaking.”

“how to die? I have watched many die over the years and the range is as you would imagine. there were those that just could not let go and suffered every indignity to their body and soul. of course others went quietly with love around them. I have not decided if I want to be alone or with loved ones by my side. is there a way to make it easier for them? would they rather receive a phone call with the news or be at bedside? either way it will hurt them, not me of course as I am the one leaving. I would be lying if I said I don’t think of how I will miss so much. the thing is I have had so much, so much more than others and it seems selfish to complain. what they will go through is tremendous compared to what I will go through. I will sleep eternally and they will live. the best I can hope for them is peace of mind and future happiness. I want them to think of me and smile as I do now thinking of them.” http://thedrsays.org/2011/03/

I am beginning to think it is easier to be the person leaving than the one being left. I have always known that about relationships and breaking up but now realize that it is the same when someone you love is dying. My husband became suddenly angry and I knew there was something wrong. it is so unlike him to get angry over nothing that I was completely off guard. we had been watching the movie “steel magnolia’s” and he asked me what Julia Roberts was dying from and I told him kidney failure. later when he was able to talk, he shared that it had reminded him of my own kidney failure and near death. we live in limbo waiting each week for blood tests to know if I am back in failure or good for a few more days. I don’t really think about it and when he shared his fear my heart ached. The sad thing is I have no fear and realize more and more how hard this is for him. I know that he will be fine in the end but it is hard for him to imagine he will be fine without me. It is so much harder to be the one being left behind. http://thedrsays.org/2011/03/25/the-one/

Vic so often tells me how worried she is about the family. She worries about how the boys, her dad and I will cope. Whether we will cope…. whether we will be able to get over her eventual passing…. Andrew and sbcallahan write about their fears… for their loved ones. It is a fear that all terminally ill people appear to have.

My Mom died a bad death! Two weeks after major surgery she died an agonising death from septicaemia. We could see the gangrene spread…. She was burning up with fever and no amount of pain medication could dull or relieve the pain. God alone knows what went through her mind because she was ventilated. When my Mom finally died we were so relieved. We were relieved that her suffering was over. We were traumatized by the dying process not her death.

As a family we have lived with Vic’s pain and her excruciatingly slow journey towards death for the past eleven years. For eleven years we have heard her scream with pain, moan with discomfort, we hold her hair back when she is doubled up over a toilet bowel, vomiting until she fractures a vertebrae. We have nursed open wounds, changed colostomy bags…. We have watched our daughter and mother suffer the most horrendous symptoms.

So baby, if you read this post, know that we will miss you. We don’t want you to leave us behind but we want your suffering to end. We will continue to love you until we are reunited one day. You have to trust us that you will always be “my baby” and the boys’ mummy. But know that we will be grateful when your little body is freed from its pain and suffering. You will be at peace… You will not suffer more pain after death. We will mourn you but we will also be at peace… We will think of you and smile…

It is okay to let go my angel child.

Preparing for Vic’s death was not easy. It was however a breeze compared to the actual pain after Vic died.

In a way I supposed I almost romanticized Vic’s passing. I knew that I would miss her. What I did not know is how much….I did not know that my mind would block out the suffering beforehand.

I thought I would always remember her cries, her tears, and her pain. I did not realize that I would forget her cries, pain, tears…. I remember her shuffling little footsteps down the passage, her soft kisses on my cheek, her gentle nature, her laughter…

I thought I would be relieved that her suffering was over – Nothing and nobody could have prepared me for the huge void in my life.

Today I know that there is excruciating agony after death. For the living…

I wrote “We will think of you and smile…”

Vic, today I know we think of you and cry… selfishly I don’t have peace.

Chaka’s is not the same without you. Nothing will ever be the same without you my Angel.

I miss you so much!!!

Posted in A Mother's Grief, Death, Death of a child, Family, Family Life, Terminal Illness

A Mother’s Love for her Sons


A year ago I posted this.  As I said in my previous post – Chaka’s 2012 is a separate story.  I am reposting the separate story…

I have been researching the effect of a mother’s illness on her children.  The boys are two beautiful, well-adjusted, honest and compassionate young men.  Vic’s illness has certainly deprived them of a childhood in the true sense of the word and prematurely matured them into compassionate, caring, young men far too early in life.  At the tender age of thirteen Jared was cooking for the family…  This must certainly have an effect on how the boys perceive relationships with people.

Now according to my research the boys have become what is called ‘parentified’ children. These children solve the problem of sick and inadequate parenting by taking care of their

parents. They in effect become     parents to their parents, giving to the sick parent what they need from the parent. Now the roles are reversed. This seemingly creative solution is unfortunately too self-sacrificing to be healthy in the long run.

“‘Parentified’ sons who take care of their sick mothers in order to cope with their inability to parent, struggle to suppress obvious needs for love and feelings of loss. They learn to work hard taking care of the needs of others and living off of the scraps that come in the form of reinforcements for their competence and reliability. Their needs for love are overlooked and overshadowed by everyone else’s needs.”  The boys, especially Jared, falls into this category 100%.  When his little girlfriend was hit in the eye by a hockey ball, he immediately went into caregiving mode,  At the time I thought it to be extremely unhealthy that he already has this caregiving character trait.  He used to always make the tea and offer to do so much around the house and for his Mom.

I have put a stop to this.  I pray it is not too late for the boys to adjust to a “normal” household…

It is however important for them to realize that death is a part of the circle of life and that it is not something dark and something to be feared but rather, if happening in a timely fashion, something that one can embrace. The boys appreciate and respect Vic as their mother.   Vic has raised her sons to be respectful.

“The power of a mother’s strength comes from her heart, from her unabashed, unconditional, and unwavering love for her child. There is, as J.K. Rowling wrote in her Harry Potter books, a magic in that love. No matter what happens, a mother is always there for her child. A mother’s love is never to be questioned, and – though she may not know it at first – neither is her strength.”

Vic literally rose from her deathbed to be there for Jared with his operation on Wednesday.  When my Mom died I related her final moments to someone jumping from a diving board into a deep pool, reaching the bottom and kicking to rise to the surface of the water for one more breath… only to sink again.  This is what Vic does.

Before Jared was wheeled into theatre he whispered into his mom’s ear.  She took his hand and said “I promise”.

Vic, drip in hand, walking with Jared to theater!

The surgeon said the operation would last two hours.  Vic dutifully went back to bed and rested.  One hour and forty-five minutes later she was, IV drip in hand, standing outside the theatre door, waiting for her son.  I begged her to at least sit on the chair, but she refused.  “Mommy, I promised Jared my face would be the first thing he sees when he comes out of theatre!”

It took a superhuman effort, but Vic’s love for her son drove her to keep her word.  It is true that no mother wants her child to suffer in any way, but life is unfair like that. So, we as mother’s do what we can to provide support, comfort, and protection. And we grow strong enough to bear their hurt as well as our own.  As Vic did.  As I do. Motherhood cuts deeply, brings you to your knees most days; but it also brings a strength that may surprise you.

The vicious cycle of anger truly rose to the occasions on Wednesday.  I got angry with Vic because she was not putting her health first!  I KNOW I would have done the same but it was terrible seeing my child do herself harm to be a Mother.  I want to wrap her in cotton so she would be spared that extra day…

Yesterday Vic said she doubted whether she would see the end of the year.  She is however adamant to be at Jared’s confirmation…one more goal…

Go Girl!!!

Well, Vic is home.  I am so grateful.  She is conceding that she is too sore and ill to go to hospital…Saturday Jared comes home!!

Share this:

 

Posted in A Mother's Grief, Death, Death of a child, Family, Grief, Hospice, Palliative Care, Religion in my world, Terminal Illness, Vicky Bruce

Mommy’s dream is coming true…


Jon-Daniel’s BBM status today was “Mommy’s dream coming true” with this photo…

Jon-Daniel

Your dream is coming true my angel child. Your Stepping Stone Hospice is functioning, and we have received a building as a donation!  Next week construction will start and by the end of the month we will move in! 

Behind the building there is a duck pond and a quaint little chapel.  I look forward to planting some roses in the garden!  We anticipate wheeling our day-care patients into the garden so they can feed the ducks.

Of course we do not have furniture yet.  The boys are donating the furniture for the two Dignity Rooms (dying rooms).  It was their decision!  We want to real make the rooms pretty and lively… We will play gentle music and burn candles like we did for you… It will truly be rooms of love…

Yesterday I was at the site and I was looking at the terrain that they were clearing.  All of a sudden there was this perfect white feather…Another message from you Angel.  Thank you.  I needed a sign…

Stepping Stone Hospice is daunting.  This week an article appeared in the Tames Times.  It opened a floodgate of telephone calls…  An elderly man called.  His voice was raw with grief and despair.  His wife is dying from liver cancer and he is going through all those familiar caregiver anguish.  How will he know when it is time?  But she is still working and in total denial…He did not want help and will put my number on speed dial… I experienced what Arlene must have experienced when I phoned her the first time….  Quite a few new patients this week…so much pain and fear…

We have had wonderful offers of help.  A woman phoned today and said that she did not know how to care for a sick person, but she was prepared to go clean a sick person’s home… We have had offers of help from professional councillors, people from all wards of life…Now we can only hope and pray that people will volunteer furniture and make some financial contributions! 

I am amazed at the goodness and generosity of people.  The company that donated the building belongs to a young man, Jaco Schultz.  You would have liked him my angel.  He is really a nice young man with a “white heart”.

 I can hear you asking “Where did you find him Mommy?” 

I did not find him.  He found us!  Long story…here is the short version!

We sell second-hand clothing to raise funds…  El-Marie, Jaco’s sister took 14 bags of clothing to Trix.  Trix (a wonderful woman with a superb sense of humour and a passion for Stepping Stone Hospice) told her what we do with the proceeds of the clothes (we buy medication for the indigent patients).  Two weeks later she dropped off more bags and asked whether we could meet her brother… 

The meeting itself was quite funny.  It was when I had that terrible flu.  The morning of the meeting I hardly had a voice, my head was throbbing and I was certain I would die.  Remember the woman you met, who lives around the corner from us and whose daughter-in-law was paralysed in an accident in December 2012?  She was at the meeting.  I was so scared I would spread my flu germs, and she would contract my flu, that I wore a facemask – I did not want DiL’s death on my conscience.  It must have looked so funny!  Me with this horrible surgical facemask… gasping for oxygen and only breathing in concentrated germs! 

Jaco asked to see the terrain, and we went on a walk-about.  He asked whether a tree could be moved….We had a promise of a building that would have a small day-care centre, two dignity rooms, a treatment room…! As easy as that!

plansWithin weeks the promise is becoming a reality.  Construction starts next week!  I am so excited!  So my Angel Girl, there was a purpose to your suffering after all. I wish it was different but it isn’t. We have been blessed beyond comprehension. 

I believe that God is personally overseeing this project. 

Love and miss you with all my heart Sweetie.

https://tersiaburger.com/2012/11/08/being-prepared-to-die-is-one-of-the-greatest-secrets-of-living-george-lincoln-rockwell/

https://tersiaburger.com/2012/11/16/we-both-laughed-and-the-moment-was-over/

https://tersiaburger.com/2012/12/02/where-to-now/

https://tersiaburger.com/2013/02/13/the-process-of-preparing-for-death/

https://tersiaburger.com/2012/10/15/remission-15-10-2012/

https://tersiaburger.com/2012/10/01/sometimes-the-pains-too-strong-to-bare-and-life-gets-so-hard-you-just-dont-care/

https://tersiaburger.com/2013/05/27/hospice-patients-live-longer/

https://tersiaburger.com/2013/04/24/stepping-stone-hospice/

https://tersiaburger.com/2013/01/03/tomorrow-may-be-better-than-yesterday/

 

 

Posted in A Mother's Grief, Angels, Chronic Pain, Death, Family, Family Life, Grief, Hospice, Palliative Care, Religion in my world, Terminal Illness, Vicky Bruce

“This is to have succeeded”


Vic often said “I must be such a disappointment to you.  I have done nothing with my life!”

100_8092 (2)

This morning I read these beautiful words and so wished I could have shared it with Vic.

“This is to have succeeded” posted on June 4, 2013 by Dr Bill http://drbillwooten.com/2013/06/04/this-is-to-have-succeeded

“To laugh often and love much; to win the respect of intelligent persons and the affection of children; to earn the approbation of honest citizens and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to give of one’s self; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived—this is to have succeeded.” ~ Bessie Anderson Stanley

To laugh often and love much – That Vic did.  She always had a smile on her precious face.  Even when she was in dreadful pain she would try to smile.  When she was in a lot of pain her laugh was shrill.  Pain seldom stopped her from laughing… In 2007 I said to Vic that my life was sad.

“That is terrible Mommy.  Why?”

I felt like hitting my head against a wall!  What did the child think?  In 2007 Vic must have had 18 operations; developed every hospital superbug in the book; developed septicaemia, had a high output fistula; developed Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome; spend months in ICU and survived having the ventilator turned off… Vic was op TPN (Total Parental Nutrition) for months…she had a massive open wound that we could not keep covered with a colostomy bag.  It was too big and positioned very low down.

“I worry about you every second of the day baby.  I worry whether you have vomited and how much you vomited; I worry whether you have been able to eat anything…  I worry about your wound.  I worry about your pain control….”

“Mommy, that is so sad.  At least once a week the boys and I laugh so much that my tummy hurts from it…”

Vic in 2007
Vic in 2007

Vic loved unconditionally and with every fibre of her body.  She gave everything!  She was a wonderful daughter, mother, friend…She loved her family, her siblings, her friends and her boys.  She LIVED love.

Her last words ever were “I love you Mommy”

… to win the respect of intelligent persons and the affection of children;  Worldwide, intelligent people, respect and admire Vic for her courage, tenacity…  We called Vic the “baby whisperer”.  Children loved her.  She loved children.  Her only ambition as a toddler and teenager was to be a Mommy.  She loved her sons beyond comprehension…

The Baby Whisperer
The Baby Whisperer

…… to earn the approbation of honest citizens and endure the betrayal of false friends; Vic suffered a lot of betrayal in her little life.  People got tired of waiting for her to die.  “Friends” spoke about her “addiction” to pain medication behind her back… They used her illness as a weapon against her when she was at her most vulnerable.  False friends (and loved ones) spoke their “minds” and condemned and judged Vic for choices she made… Because she was ill people thought they could say what they wanted, when they wanted.

….. to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others;  My precious child was so naïve.  She refused to see the bad in people!  The only time she got irritated and miserable was in hospital.  She always found the good in people.  She did not speak badly of people.  When I was angry with someone she would placate me…point out their good points… She knew that if she voiced her own anger it would have driven me over the edge.  Vic taught me unconditional love, forgiveness and tolerance.  Vic brought out the best in me and the most other people.

…..to give of one’s self; Vic was a people pleaser.  She would turn down MY bed!!!!  She made sacrifices for each and every person in her life.  Even in death she worried about other dying people who were less privileged than she was.  I promised her 2 am one morning that I would start Stepping Stone Hospice!  She kept talking to me about Stepping Stone until she lapsed into a coma.

IMG_9511

…..to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; Vic left the world a better place.  Her sons are monuments of the person she was; her dream of a Hospice has been realized.

The boys taking Vic for a walk at the Donald Gordo

……to have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation;  With the 2010 Soccer World Cup Vic went crazy with enthusiasm; she bought every gimmick that hit the shops; she went of the “soccer train” in her wheelchair, she watched every single soccer game.

Vic loving World Cup 2010
Vic loving World Cup 2010

100_2079

……to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived     Vic’s legacy will live on through her sons and Stepping Stone Hospice.  Long after I have died, people will continue to benefit from Vic’s dreams and goodness.

—this is to have succeeded.”  My angel child – you succeeded!  You succeeded in life and with living.  You made the world a beautiful place filled with goodness and hope.  I am so proud of you.  You lived life to the full.  You made a difference!  You lived a greater and more successful life than most people.  You have put the world to shame.  You are my hero!

Vic and her monuments
Vic and her monuments

https://tersiaburger.com/2012/10/16/and-the-winner-is/

https://tersiaburger.com/2012/06/09/9-6-2012/

Posted in A Mother's Grief, Angels, Death, Death of a child, Family, Family Life, Hospice, Osteogenesis Imperfecta, Palliative Care, Terminal Illness, Vicky Bruce

Caregiver Isolation


Alberton-20120625-00559It happened without warning…

In 2002 I was on top of the world.  My career was at an all-time high, financially we were secure and I LOVED my job.  I was able to work long hours and spend time with my friends.  I was on 9 Church Committee’s and very involved with community work in the poor areas.

Then it happened…Vic had her blotched back surgery and our lives changed forever.  I spent 22 days in the waiting room outside the Intensive Care Unit.  My life ground to a halt.

We moved into a downward spiral of hospitals, doctor visits, x-rays, scans, 81 abdominal surgeries, pain, open wounds, hospital bugs, sepsis and wound dressings.  I felt over-whelmed and out of control.  Doctors and nurses prodding and touching my child.  To them she was a commodity.  But, to me, she was my life.

Slowly but surely my life changed…  I became fixated with finding a “solution” to my child’s devastating health problems.  After all, I am a Baby Boomer.  We don’t accept bad situations.  We find solutions.  We sort out problems.  I refused to accept the doctors’ prognosis as I did when she was a little girl.  I was told that Vic would not live to the age of 12 when she was diagnosed as a toddler…  I refused to accept it.  Vic not only outlived the prognosis but lived to complete school, get married and give birth to two beautiful boys.  The ventilators were turned off and Vic continued to breathe, live….

We went from one doctor to the next.  I spend hours every day of my life on the internet looking for solutions and advice; it became a coping mechanism.  I worked longer hours in-between surgeries.  Quite frankly, work became a crutch.  I spent less and less time with my family and friends…I suppose because I felt no-one understood my fear, my despair, my pain…

My fear, despair and pain became my constant companion.  My computer and the internet my trusted friend…

One day, about 7 years ago, Jared asked me “Oumie don’t you love your family?”

“Of course I love my family!  Why are you asking such a question?” I replied

“Because you are never home….”

I had to sit down and reassess my life.  Quite honestly the financial implications of keeping Vic alive and care for her was daunting.  I feared going home because I could not handle Vic’s pain….  I knew in my heart there was no cure.  The mere thought of Vic suffering for endless years were terrifying!  I could not bear to see the fear and helpless desperation in the boys’ eyes.

So contrary to what I have written before, and comments that have been left, I have not been the best mother.   There was a time that I ran away.  I was petrified of the thought that Vic would suffer for another 40 years…be dependent upon me for another 40 years… There were times that I thought to myself “There has to be more to life!”  I felt lost in the in-balance of my life.  No matter where I turned it was work and responsibility!

In 2009 my Dad came to live with us.  He suffered from Alzheimer’s.

Dad and I
Dad and I

Whilst I reached a maturity level where I realized that being a caregiver is a privilege, not a burden, our lives changed.

I started sleeping downstairs many years ago when Vic was so ill.  I was scared I would not hear her if I slept upstairs.  I slowly slipped into a habit of working late on my laptop and then falling asleep on the sofa.  This continued when my Dad lived with us.  I still sleep downstairs on the sofa – waiting for Vic shuffling footsteps down the passage, text messages saying “Can I have something for pain?” or the intercom screeching!  The intercom was the 911 call.

I slowly and inextricably slipped into depression.  My entire life was dominated by my fears for my child.  The caregiving demands steadily increased as the years passed and the situation deteriorated.  It became a dark and difficult period for the entire family.  We could no longer spontaneously decide to go to dinner, go away for a weekend or even a holiday.  Every activity demanded a great deal of planning.  We became more and more isolated as a family.

It is natural for family and friends to drift away when a loved one becomes ill. The longer the illness, the longer they stay away. By it’s very nature, caring giving is draining. It is far easier to stay home and rest than socialize outside the home.  Isolation can lead to loneliness, depression, and illness. It takes energy and effort to maintain friendships when one feels tired and discouraged.

My salvation was cyberspace.  I joined an Alzheimer support group, https://www.caring.com.  Without the support group I would never had coped with my dad’s descend into Alzheimer’s.  A year ago I started blogging on Vic’s final journey.  I have found a cyber-community with parents who also lost children, friends with a word of encouragement, a kind words.   I receive advice, support and information from a loving cyber-community.

I however realize that I need re-join life.  There are days that I just want to stay on my sofa with a blanket pulled over my head.  I fear that if I sleep in a bed I will never get out of it.  In the TV lounge there is always people.  Whether it be the boys, Danie or the housemaids.

Today I had tea with an old friend.  For almost 4 years I have not been able to see her.  She has a young son that I have never seen.  Our friendship was reduced to the odd phone call or text message.  Often she would phone and there would be a crisis with Vic.  I would say “I will phone you back” and never get around to it.  I isolated myself from friends.  I was so miserable and totally absorbed with Vic that no “outsider” could penetrate my “barrier”.

My life centred round my sick child and family.

Despite the trauma of Vic’s death and coming to terms with the horrible loss, my life has changed.  I have had tea with my new Magnolia friends and Christelle.  We go out to dinner on the spur of the moment; we have been on holiday and I spent 4 days at a Spa with my sister!  I have watched Jon-Daniel play hockey matches, started gym and started remodelling the house.  I have seen a psychiatrist and take antidepressants.  We have started Stepping Stone Hospice.

How amazing is this?

If the truth be known it is not amazing at all.  I am dying on the inside.  I cry uncontrollably – mostly when everyone has gone to bed.  If the boys were not living with us it would have been so different.  I KNOW I would still have been in bed.   I am consumed with longing for my child.  Last night I replayed 100’s of voicemail messages that Vic had left me….

“Love you Mommy…”

“Love you Baby Girl”

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

“Never Alone”


Kempton Park-20120905-00875

We played “Never Alone” as we carried Vic out of the church to the hearse…”Never Alone” because our love will always enfold you.  We love you so much!!IMG_8396 062

Lady Antebellum – Never Alone Lyrics

“Never Alone”     http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lnNK4Alwbsw

May the angels protect you 

Trouble neglect you
And heaven accept you when its time to go home
May you always have plenty
The glass never empty
Know in your belly
You’re never alone

May your tears come from laughing
You find friends worth having
With every year passing
They mean more than gold
May you win but stay humble,
Smile more than grumble
And know when you stumble
You’re never alone

Chorus: Never alone
Never alone
I’ll be in every beat of your heart
When you face the unknown
Wherever you fly
This isn’t goodbye
My love will follow you stay with you
Baby you’re never alone

well
I have to be honest
As much as I want it
I’m not gonna promise that the cold winds won’t blow
So when hard times have found you
And your fears surround you
Wrap my love around you
You’re never alone

Chorus

May the angels protect you
Trouble neglect you
And heaven accept you when its time to go home
And when hard times have found you
And your fears surround you
Wrap my love around you
You’re never alone

Chorus

My love will follow you stay with you
Baby you’re never alone

IMG_8291

24.12.2012
24.12.2012
Posted in A Mother's Grief, Angels, Death, Death of a child, Family, Family Life, Vicky Bruce

I am the last mother…


I come from a long line of exceptional mothers.

My Mom died 15 years and 11 months ago.  She was tiny and petite.  I remember my school friends telling me that my Mom reminded them of a fairy princess.  My Mom dressed beautifully, had perfectly manicured nails and hair…. She taught us the finer things in life.

My parents
My parents

My Mom always worked…she was bright and diligent in her profession as a bookkeeper.  She was proud to be a career girl.  Mom knitted beautifully and made glorious tapestries!

The surprising thing is that we did not ever feel deprived because Mom worked.  I was proud of my mom.  As a family, we went on wonderful holidays every single year of our childhoods.  We were always the well-dressed kids on the block…We got new bicycles, and we had a beautiful home.

As a child, I thought we were rich.  Of course, I knew that many of my parent’s friends lived in seriously nice homes, but somehow I never thought those people were wealthier than we were.  Today I realize that I grew up in a middle-class home.  As a child, I felt protected and RICH!  How amazing is that?

My mother was a remarkable lady.  She brought us up to be compassionate, honest people; to never let the sun set on an argument; to love unconditionally, to protect our own… We learnt from her strength, her respect for others, her courage, faithfulness and her love for God.  Mom was around for the happy and sad times.

My mom as a young woman
My mom as a young woman

“As mothers and daughters, we are connected with one another. My mother is the bones of my spine, keeping me straight and true. She is my blood, making sure it runs rich and strong. She is the beating of my heart. I cannot now imagine a life without her.”
― Kristin HannahSummer Island  http://denacronholm.com/

My Mom died after she developed septicaemia post-operatively.  It was two agonizing weeks!  We sat next to her bed willing her to fight, get well…. To die…

When my Mom died I thought my life was over.  The grief was overwhelming.  It was my first “real” death.  My gran had passed many years ago, but that was my mom’s grief… I was young, ambitious and climbing the corporate ladder.  My life went on.  I remember my Mom crying at silly times because she was missing her mom.  I remember thinking “surely it can’t be that bad?  Old people die…”

After my mom died I read these words, A daughter without her mother is a woman broken. It is a loss that turns to arthritis and settles deep into her bones. ” ― Kristin HannahSummer Island.  My mom grieved for her mom until the day she died.

I must add that my father was an amazing gentleman.  He supported my mom on every level.  He treated her like a queen and tolerated no less from us children.  I adored my dad!  But today’s post is about my mom and motherhood.

I only understood my mom’s love for us after I gave birth to Vic.  It was an all-consuming love.  I held my tiny baby girl in my arms and knew that she needed me for every one of her needs; she could not survive without me…  My mom and I were so close after Vic’s birth.  We shared a selfless love that only mothers can understand.  As mothers, our children come first; nothing is more important than our child’s comfort, happiness and safety.

Mom, my siblings and I
Mom, my siblings and I

“Womanhood is a wonderful thing. In womankind we find the mothers of the race.  There is no man so great, nor none sunk so low, but once he lay a helpless, innocent babe in a woman’s arms and was dependent on her love and care for his existence. It is woman who rocks the cradle of the world and holds the first affections of mankind. She possesses a power beyond that of a king on his throne.
…Womanhood stands for all that is pure and clean and noble. She who does not make the world better for having lived in it has failed to be all that a woman should be.”
― Mabel HaleBeautiful Girlhood: A Timeless Guide for Christian Adolescence

I know there are mothers out there that really suck…  I know because I have been told by friends that they were never protected or defended by their moms.  I am so sad for people who do not have a good relationship with their mothers.  I was blessed with an amazing mother and that enabled me to be a good mother to my child.  My child was an amazing mother to her sons.  She loved her boys with every fibre in her body.  She suffered excruciating pain and indignity to stay alive… Vic could have given up much earlier in her life.  She fought to live right until the end…why???  It is easy – to bring up her beloved boys herself!

Vic reading to her boys
Vic reading to her boys

I am so proud of the mother Vic was.  She packed a lifetime of parenting into the little time that she had with her boys.  Jon-Daniel’s (14 years) BBM message this morning read “I really do miss you Mommy.  I miss the laughs we had and the time we spent together, and I miss talking to you.  Love you Mommy.”

A moment in the sun in the Hospital courtyard
A moment in the sun in the Hospital courtyard

The boys are level-headed, clean-living boys.  They have taken their mother’s words to heart “I am your mother not your excuse”.  Academically they are doing well.  Emotionally they are coping.  They are beautiful boys and truly do Vic’s memory honour.

I am the last mother alive…there will be no next generation mother to carry forward this miracle of motherhood.  The boys may become fathers, but I am the last of a long line of great mothers.

I will think of it on Sunday when millions celebrate Mother’s Day all over the world.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Angels, Death, Grief, Osteogenesis Imperfecta, Terminal Illness, Vicky Bruce

3 Months Ago


Every day I go to Vic’s Facebook page to see whether someone remembered her… I leave her messages… Today at 14:18 I dialled her mobile number out of habit.

Exactly three months ago I knew my child’s life had been reduced to hours…I knew that her little body could no longer fight whatever infection was raging in it.  Her temperature was off the chart… the thermometer only registers temperatures up to 106 °F (41.5 °C) and then goes onto “HI”.

It was this time, three months ago, that Vic’s breathing changed.  Three months ago it was Vic’s last night of breathing.

Earlier that day I fell asleep next to Vic – my hand on the pulse in her neck.  I was so exhausted I could not think or function.  I just needed to be with her every second of her last hours.

IMG_2092 1

The boys came to say their goodbyes…

I no longer allowed visitors.

I remember lying next to her recalling a discussion we had when I had flu and was running a fever.  I am a terrible patient.  I am such a ninny.  I remembered saying to Vic “Sweetie, when I am dying please don’t let people touch me…”

“I won’t” she promised.  “My skin also hurts when I am running a fever…”

“Why didn’t you tell me?  It must irritate you when I stroke your hand or hair when you are sick?”

“Because I know you need to touch and hold me when I am sick…” she said.

“I will never to it again.  So next time you are running a fever know I want to hold your hand and stroke your hair…”

“It’s okay Mommy.  You can hold my hand.  I don’t mind.  It hurts but makes me feel better…”

“That’s an oxymoron if I have ever heard one in my life!” I laughed and Vic joined in

That night, three months ago, there was no idle chatter or laughter in the house.  Just the sound of Vic’s breathing.

Tonight, three months later, everyone has gone to bed.  There is no sound of laughter or idle chatter in the house.  Earlier tonight there was.

I keep imaging that I am hearing Vic’s footsteps shuffling down the passage. The boys have lit extra candles for their mom.  I know that they are sad.

I am aware that the dynamics of my grief is changing.  I am starting to function, smile and look “alive”.  The numbness has gone.  The pain is real now.  My sadness is constant.  I go to sleep with tears in my eyes and wake up with tears running into my hair.  My grief has become “mine”.  It has become a constant companion.  I do not want to share it.  I want to embrace it.

I know there is so much to be grateful for, I know I wanted Vic’s suffering to end, I am grateful that she is no longer fracturing vertebrae from vomiting, crying with pain… I KNOW all of this on an intellectual level.  I try to tell my heart to be happy or at least grateful, but my heart won’t listen!

I don’t want to sleep tonight.  I want to lie awake and remember my beautiful baby girl, her warm smile, her tiny little hands and her pure soul.  If I fall asleep I pray that I will dream of my baby girl…

Posted in Angels, Chronic Pain, Death, Death of a child, Family, Family Life, Grief, Osteogenesis Imperfecta, Terminal Illness, Vicky Bruce

We were one


24.12.2012
24.12.2012

I had my first counselling session with the Hospice psychologist.  It was terribly difficult and emotional.

So often when Vic and I chatted Vic would say “I am so worried about you Mommy…”

In November last year when Dr Sue, Vic’s palliative care physician, broke the news to Vic that her organs were failing Vic’s first words were “Oh Mommy, I am so worried about you – How will you cope?”

When our housekeeper went on leave late December, Vic said to her that they would not see one another again…that she was dying…. Vic asked our Betty to look after me because she was worried about me…

My standard answer to Vic was “I will be okay baby!” 

Vic would say “I know, but I worry about you.  Promise me you will see someone professional after I am gone?”

“I will be fine.  I will be grateful that your suffering is over…But I promise I will!”

I did not know what I was talking about when I said I would be fine… Vic knew me better than I know myself.  Nothing could have prepared me for the tsunami of grief that hit me, the void in my life…

So I walked into Alan’s office this morning.  I noticed the strategically placed box of tissues, the crumpled ones in the little wastebasket next to the chair…I crossed my mind that he only deals with grief.

We spoke briefly about the boys, but Alan firmly said that today we would focus on me… 

I bravely started talking without waiting to be prompted.  After all, that is why I was there.

“I knew that I would miss Vic after her death but nothing could prepare me for this” I said

“Vic was diagnosed with Osteogenesis Imperfecta at 18 months.  The doctors said she would not live to be older than 12 years.”. 

I spoke clearly and succinctly about Vic’s medical history.  It was familiar territory.  I have share this information with many doctors, research centres, medical professionals… I spoke about Vic’s blotched back surgery and the devastating effect it had on the rest of her life.  I ranted about Drs S + V.  I articulated my hatred of them, my anger at their arrogance.

I spoke at length about how I fought doctors, tried to find solutions, cures… How I would not leave Vic’s side when she was in hospital or ICU.  I told him about the ventilator been switched off and Vic starting to breathe on her own again…

I sobbed my way through Vic’s uncontrolled pain; the doctors telling her that she was a morphine addict…The doctors refusing her adequate pain control post-surgery because of her so-called morphine addiction…

I battled to tell him of Vic’s incredible will to live – sobs wracked through my body.

I share with him my guilt at being the one who administered her sedation at the end of her life.  It took me a couple of minutes to get Vic’s final words of “Mommy, I love you…” out.

I saw Alan look at the clock on the wall.  I knew our time was almost up. 

He sat forward on his chair, his elbows on his knees.  His voice and eyes were gentle with compassion.

“Tersia, it is normal to grieve.  Vic has taken up all your time and energy for 38 years.  You never separated from her.  In your mind you were one…”

That is so true.  That is why I feel as if part of me has died.  Vic and I were so close.  She always remained my baby girl.  I never became Ma, Mom or anything but “Mommy”. 

On the 9th of October 2012 I posted these words

https://tersiaburger.com/2012/10/09/is-there-pain-after-death-post-2/

As a family we have lived with Vic’s pain and her excruciatingly slow journey towards death for the past eleven years.  For eleven years we have heard her scream with pain, moan with discomfort, we hold her hair back when she is doubled up over a toilet bowel, vomiting until she fractures a vertebrae.  We have nursed open wounds, changed colostomy bags…. We have watched our daughter and mother suffer the most horrendous symptoms.

So baby, if you read this post, know that we will miss you.  We don’t want you to leave us behind, but we want your suffering to end.  We will continue to love you until we are reunited one day.  You have to trust us that you will always be “my baby” and the boys’ mummy.  But know that we will be grateful when your little body is freed from its pain and suffering.  You will be at peace…  You will not suffer more pain after death.  We will mourn you, but we will also be at peace…  We will think of you and smile…

It is okay to let go my angel child.

Vic and I discussed this post… We cried then, and I cry now.

I pray that I will find peace.  

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

29 days – Promises Kept


My beautiful Angle Child

Today it was 29 long miserable days since you stopped breathing.

I have continued to breathe, walk, talk, eat, drink tea; I have attended meetings, cried and even laughed.  My life has continued yet part of me is dead.  I have lost my words today.  I just want to have a cup of tea with you.  I want to tell you how much I love you and how much I miss you.

Promises Kept

I’ve kept my promise,
of what I would do.
To continue to live,
my life without you.

I get up each morning,
I get through the day
struggling past tears,
every step of the way.

I go on with life with,
a forced happy face.
My heart aches badly,
for what I can’t replace.

I don’t know what to do,
to deaden this pain
It’s so hard, here without you,
where I must remain.

But I will keep my promise
and I must believe,
That you’ll be there waiting,
when it’s my time to leave.
-unknown

 

Posted in Family, Uncategorized, Vicky Bruce

Never gone away…


Vic and her boys in healthier days!
Vic and her boys in healthier days!

I have received countless beautiful messages of encouragement, love, compassion and caring on my blog.   Vic read my blog every day.  The last couple of blogs I deleted because even I could read the despair in my words.  Vic was in emotional anguish.  She kept saying “Mommy, I don’t want to die””  or “Mommy, I am so scared”.  She would wake up and cry with fear…

I have not replied to all the messages, but will systematically work my way through it.  I did read the messages of encouragement and support to Vic.  Right up until the end….  Vic loved the support we received.

It may come as a shock, but I am actually a very private person and allow very few people close to me.   Through my blog people have come close to me, reached out and touched my hand and heart and I thank you for it!  Vic often said she wanted to write and thank you all for your love and support.  Sadly she never got to do it.

Over the past 8 months I have laughed and cried with you as you have laughed and cried with me.  Some of you have written Vic beautiful poems and others have dedicated songs.  

Thank you so much for your loving concern.  For allowing us to enter your lives; for your encouragement and support.  I shall continue to blog our survival journey.

Judy Unger  http://myjourneysinsight.com/2013/01/28/never-gone-away/ has on a regular basis written me encouraging emails and shared her beautiful songs with us.  I would like to share this special lady’s one email with you.

Jan 22, 2013

Hi Tersia,

 I am continuing to write to you. You have entered the awful hole. You are now a member of the bereaved mother’s club. No one wants to join this club.

I read your post. The numbness is very bizarre. What purpose is there left to living – where did she go? I remember it all.

I continue to compose and sing. I was stunned when I wrote and recorded my new song “Angel in the Sky” just two weeks ago. Never has such a beautiful song come out of the sky to bless me. It is many years along for me – so I can sing about my angel with sweetness and without pain. I dream of when that time will come for you. For now, close your eyes and think of Angelic Vicky holding you tight.”

This is Judy’s latest song that she dedicated to her son who died 18 years ago.  It is crystal clear that 18 years down the line Judy still mourns her son…  I know in another 18 years I will still be mourning my baby girl’s passing.   Thank you dear Judy for sharing your beautiful song with us.

 
NEVER GONE AWAY
Copyright 2011 by Judy Unger
 
I know that soon you will leave me
how will I ever say goodbye?
there’s so much you’ve left me
I’ll try hard not to cry
and when you’ve left you’ll still be with me
in all the songs I’ll long to play
every time I see a smile
you’ll have never gone away
 
It always seems to me, that whenever I was down
your hand was the one holding mine
but your fingers I’ll let go of now; how I long to hold on
you’ll touch so many others when you’re gone
 
I know that soon you will leave me
how will I ever say goodbye?
there’s so much you’ve left me
I’ll try hard not to cry
when you’ve left you’ll still be with me
in all the songs I’ll long to play
every time I see a smile
you’ll have never gone away
 
Sometimes I will stop and wonder
you’ll know what I am feeling
I’ll hear your laughter in my mind
I’ll remember all our special moments
They’ll run by with a tear
You’ll leave, but in my heart, you’re still here
 
And I know that soon you will leave me
how will I ever say goodbye?
there’s so much you’ve left me
I’ll try hard not to cry
when you’ve left you’ll still be with me
in all the songs I’ll long to play
every time I see a smile
you’ll have never gone away
you’ll have never gone away
http://myjourneysinsight.com/2013/01/28/never-gone-away/

Jan. 23, 2013

Hi Tersia,

 Tersia, what can I say? I read your post. It is unbearable. There are no words. I think every bereaved parent suffers the helplessness of being unable to save his or her baby. Vic is your baby. The horror of her ending will eventually fade, but your opera has begun.

The amputation of a soul – there are no words for it. You will emerge from the fog, you will get through this – and you have already been through so much already. You had goodbyes – something that many bereaved parents long for. But with the goodbyes came god-awful suffering and trauma. How can you let go of that?

I think of the lyrics from my “Angel” song – “My lovely light – just not in sight.” Vic will always light your way now. She is not in sight – but that doesn’t mean she isn’t with you.

I know Vic is with me.  I still smell her, sense her presence and find notes of love everywhere.  Vic will always be the light of my life.  I love and miss you 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 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 Chronic Pain, Daily Post 2012, Family, Family Life, Grief, Palliative Care, Terminal Illness, Uncategorized, Vicky Bruce

Another birthday…..


South African grandchildren
South African grandchildren

Yesterday I celebrated (another) birthday.

Late Saturday night Vic’s restlessness was indicative that she was determined to be the first to wish me.  At 11.30 pm she came through and said “another half hour….. I want to be the first to wish you Mommy.  I just want 30 minutes alone with you on your birthday…”

“No problem angel.  I’ll switch the kettle on.” I said

“I will be back in a minute” she said

I made coffee and checked some e-mails.  At 12:00pm I expected her to come through singing “Happy Birthday” but no Vicky….

I went through to her room and the poor baby had fallen asleep on her bed…

Jon-Daniel came through and brought me a cup of tea on a tray, with a gift and card and a rose!  “Happy birthday Oumie” he said.

He had bought a book I have wanted to read for a while “The Elephant Whisperer” – It is an inspiring, true life drama of a herd of wild African elephants on an African game reserve. The herd is destined to be shot for dangerous behaviour when this special human being, Anthony, intervenes to try to save their lives.  I was so thrilled that he remembered.

Just before 01:00 am Vic shuffled into my TV lounge.

“Oh Mommy, I am so sorry I fell asleep.  I thought I would just close my eyes for 5 minutes whilst you make the coffee…”

We sat and chatted for a while.  Vic shared her good wishes with me and we just sat and spoke.  We spoke about our very special mother-daughter relationship.  We spoke about years gone by and how blessed we are to have this time together. (I cannot imagine Vic married and living in someone else’s home on her final journey.)

The girls, Esther and Lani, arrived at 10:00am with gifts, a cooked meal, dessert and cake.  The grandchildren set the table…  My sister Lorraine and dear friend Judy arrived bearing armloads of gifts.  The grandchildren had written me letters and cards – it was so special.  Vic bravely cooked a pot of rice and had lunch with the family.  All the grandchildren swam and played tug-a-war!   We laughed and joked.

It was a perfect day.

Esther and Lani planned the day to start early whilst Vic is at her best.  As the day progresses so her energy levels decrease.  Immediately after lunch Vic went to bed.  She was in so much pain and absolutely exhausted.

All the grandchildren wanted to stay.

Sunday evening we Skyped my son and his family in the UK.  Vic and Danie spoke.  Vic and Danie Jnr have a special bond.

DIGITAL CAMERA

Twenty two years ago I married Danie Sr and his four children; Esther 23, Lani 18, Liza 16 and Danie 11…  Danie married me and one, sick, very protected, spoilt brat, Vicky, aged 16.  Vic and Danie Jnr were the two kids who lived with us.  Vic embraced her new family.  (I was petrified of the children!)

Vic’s siblings have been amazing over the years.  I could never have coped as well as I do if it was not for their love, support and encouragement.  The siblings are fiercely protective of their little sister.

Vic and Danie Jnr spoke for at least 10 minutes last night.  It was a sad conversation between a brother and his older, little sister.

“I miss you so much Little Brother” Vic said

“I miss you too Vic.  How are you feeling?”  Jnr asked

“I am battling Boetie (Little Brother) Vic said

“We are coming to visit in April then I will see you Vic”

“I don’t know if I am going to make it to April” Vic said

“Just hang in there Vic.  It is not that long to April…” Jnr consoled her

“I know but I am tired.  I am just missing you” Vic cried

“I will fly over for a weekend.  I want to see you again” Danie promised

Vic was so tired last night.  Her little body cannot handle parties anymore.  She tries so hard.  This weekend we will have Jared’s 16th birthday.  It is only his birthday on the 26th but most of his friends are away for Christmas so we have his friend party an early in December.

I know this will more than likely be another last for Vic.

Esther, Vic and Lani
Esther, Vic and Lani