Vic often said “I must be such a disappointment to you. I have done nothing with my life!”
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 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, respected and admired 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
…… 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 at 2 am on the 16th of November 2012, a mere 2 months and 2 days before she died, that I would start Stepping Stone Hospice! She kept talking to me about Stepping Stone until she lapsed into a coma. We started on the 1st of January 2013 and Vic died on the 18th of January. Our first patient. Our first death.
…..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.
……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
……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!
I read a heartbreaking article that truly hit home
“A mother was discovered pushing her dead son in a swing late last week. The unnamed woman is believed to have spent hours with the toddler’s body at a local park in Maryland—she had possibly been there with the dead child for the entire night, according to neighbors. Police were called after concerned neighbors noticed the mother at Wills Memorial Park in La Plata for “an unusually long time.” “ http://firsttoknow.com/watch-mother-found-pushing-dead-toddler-on-park-swings/?utm_source=ftk_nwsltrF
More disturbing were the comments:
“People who are mentally unfit should never have children. My God this news of the father wanting custody set off this unfit mentally ill mother yet again. It is just to much strain for people who are mentally ill to bring up a child safely. The father is just as much to blame by marrying a mentally ill person in the first place to have children. God help them.”
“why are good baby given to bad mothers like this they dont deserve to have children I hope god punish her.”
Thank goodness that some sanity prevailed in some of the comments:
“I feel bad for the mother. When people grieve they can fall apart mentally, especially when a parent loses their child.”
“How do you know she was a bad mother? She was obviously in shock to be doing what she did. Aren’t you quick to judge?”
This is the world we live in. A world that consists of two sets of people… Those who have lost a child and know the devastation of mourning a child every single day of their lives and those who can pick up a phone and talk to a living child; who can go visit, hug and hold their child(ren).
The first will more than likely comment “why are good baby given to bad mothers like this they dont deserve to have children I hope god punish her.” and a parent who knows the devastation of losing a child will potentially comment “How do you know she was a bad mother? She was obviously in shock to be doing what she did. Aren’t you quick to judge?”
I know that Vic’s death left me reeling from pain, anger and loss. It was so hard letting her go. It was impossibly hard seeing her little body leave home for the last time.
Yet, some Facebook friends will pass snide comments about people posting photographs on their Facebook pages of the dead child and soppy messages… Yes, I am guilty. I post photos of Vic and soppy messages that convey my longing for my beautiful little girl.
Unfriend me if I get up your nose. I will grieve whichever way I chose. Your child(ren) are alive and you have absolutely no idea of what true loss is.
My child is dead. I burn candles for her and sometimes I fall asleep holding a photograph of her. I have sat sobbing just hugging her ashes. Does that make me mentally unfit? No, I am just another grieving mother and you will never understand. And, I hope you never have to understand!
It is a mere 850 days since Vic died. 2 years and 4 months seems so short… 850 days seems far more representative of the longing. It seems “longer”….
I woke up this morning with tears pouring down my cheeks. I so longed to hold my child. I know that the boys remembered too. Jon-Daniel posted on his Facebook “Appreciate your Mom, tell her you love her, make her smile – because the only time she ever smiled while you were crying was when you were born!” The first to “like” his post was his brother.
I imagined that the longing would get better. It doesn’t!
At first it felt as if I was overseas – away from the trauma of Vic being ill. I always felt guilty at the “reprieves” I had when I was travelling for work. Now I would give anything and everything for just an extra minute with my child.
It was hard standing next to Vic’s bed hearing her cries of pain. It was even harder seeing the despair in the eyes of her precious boys when they stood next to their mom’s bed helpless to ease her pain and fears.
So often over the years I wanted to run away. In the end, when Vic cried from fear of dying, I felt the need to put an end to her suffering well up in me. I put my hands over my ears and screamed in my head.
How do you answer your child when she cries “I am so scared”?
We have a patient at Hospice who vocalises her fear the way Vic did. Today I just held her. How do you still the fear of the unknown in a dying person? And NO!!!! It has nothing to do with religion. Everybody is scared.
From that dreaded moment when a patient is told they are terminally ill an avalanche of shock and fear hits them. It is called actually “named” – terminal fear. Vic (and Elizabeth*) fear dying, pain, saying goodbye, loss of control and mostly all-encompassing the fear of the unknown.
Vic’s overwhelming fear was that people would forget her – that she would be replaced…. Vic questioned her life’s worth. She did not work and in her mind that meant it that she had not achieved anything. That she would leave no legacy. No matter how many times we reassured her that she inspired hundreds of people worldwide, the fear never left. I hope that she now knows how powerful her legacy is! That hundreds of patients have benefitted from her death wish and, most importantly, that her sons are her true legacy.
I have witnessed that grieving starts the moment of handing down the sentence. It is a long and hard journey for the dying person, their loved ones and friends.
And, today that Elizabeth’s* fear rests heavy on my heart, I know that we will provide her a safe haven where she can relax into death. We will hold her hand and guide her family through this dreadful trauma of saying goodbye to a wife, mother, grandmother and friend.
I pray for wisdom and strength to handle the déjà vu of Elizabeth’s* final journey.
This post has been sitting in my Drafts since the 23 of November 2014. This morning I was told that my grieving is isolating me from the world… So be it. I lost my child and she deserves to be mourned. If people cannot cope they must simply just stay out of my life. I will not invade theirs… So if I offend someone it is tough. Once you have walked my journey you are welcome to criticise. Remember to hug your children – I never thought Vic would die. Shit happens.
It is 671 days since Vic died.
I have not blogged in a while. I stopped because I felt too exposed. People were reading my blog and “using” my emotions against me. My public grief became a weapon to be used in dealing with me.
I have received a number of emails from some of my blogger friends asking me whether I have started a new blog. I haven’t. I have missed blogging.
Blogging to me provides me access to a network of people who have experienced the loss of a child. If one has not lost a child you will never understand the pain thereof. It is grief that no one can begin to understand. I read other mothers blogs and their words are my words.
We have had a number of milestones.
I have thrown myself into Stepping Stone Hospice. I have grown as a person. My heart has been broken by the deaths of precious patients’ and the pain of their families. I have made new friends only to lose them weeks later. I have stood next to close on a 100 death beds this year.
Jon-Daniel turned 16. Vic left a box of party goods to be used for his 16th birthday. I opened the box, for the 1st time after her death, and found the polystyrene “Happy 16th birthday” lettering; party poppers, balloons. Vic was always very set on being fair. What she did for the one she would do for the other. She set up Jared’s 16th birthday party. She left the same for her baby.….. A final act of love for her precious son.
There are no further birthday boxes prepared for the boys. She has left 18th and 21st birthday gifts; Jon-Daniels confirmation candles and their 21st keys. But no further party goods.
On the 17th of October 2014 Jared attended his Matric Farewell (prom). Exactly 22 years after Vic’s Matric Farewell. He wrote on his Facebook that it was hard to be excited about
He was so handsome and his little girlfriend looked beautiful. Vic would have been so proud of her son! I know that she was there but I also know that Jared would have given anything to have her physically presence…. He would have wanted her to straighten his bow tie and flaff with his hair. She would have cried and insisted on 100’s of photos.
I vividly remembered Vic’s farewell and how exquisitely beautiful she looked. I remembered how careful I was when I helped her dress because her skin marked so easily and we did not want red marks spoiling the evening for her. I remembered her and Gia giggling whilst they were getting ready for the Big Event. I remembered my pride looking at my little princess…
I slept very badly that evening because I actually remember that his mommy was very hung-over the morning after her farewell…. He arrived home in the early hours of the morning and he was sober! I could not have been prouder.
Now Jared is writing his school exams. I remember how I fought with Vic to study hard and get her marks up. I remember the frustration of knowing that Vic was not performing to her ability. She only did enough to pass comfortably. I realized then that all she ever wanted to be was a mommy. It was hard to accept. The dreams that I had for her were exactly that – my dreams.
Vic had no ambition to become a doctor or an advocate or even politician. She started thinking up her children’s names when she was 4 or 5 years old. When she was old enough to draw she “designed” her wedding gown. It was hard to accept.
Vic and I were so opposite to one another. I am ambitious and driven. Vic was content to live…
So, here I am on my knees again hoping and praying that Jared’s marks will be good enough for him to gain university entrance. I gave him the letter Vic wrote him…the letter to be given to him just before his final school exams. I was petrified that it would upset him and affect his mental state adversely. He was thrilled and quietly said that it was so nice getting a letter from her and being able to read her words. He said that he missed her little notes… and her hugs.
When I heard his words I felt his pain and loss all over again.
As time passes it is becoming more difficult. Maybe because people are “fed-up” with my grieving. They are impatient with me and want me to forget and accept. They become frustrated because I try and find every excuse to mention Vic’s name. Their empathy has switched to impatience.
And, I don’t care!
My soul is grieving for Vic. The pain has travelled so much further than my heart. It has filled my body and soul to the core. I want my child back. I want to hear her laugh. I want to see her smile. I want to feel her hugs. I want to hear her voice. I want to be a mommy again. I want to be a grandmother again. I want my life back.
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…
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.
A tidal wave of emotions,
have sent my soul out to sea.
Crashing currents submersing,
what once was you and me.
Drifting afar distantly,
a glimpse of precious time.
While I held you close to me,
singing your favourite rhyme.
Rocking gently back and forth,
arms encircling you whole.
Lips pressed upon sweet innocence,
your cries I did console.
Praying the Lord may keep you;
wash your troubles away.
Hoping a bond forever remains,
the same tomorrow as today.
Splashing scents of adorable purity;
upon your mother’s face.
I draw you closer, your tiny being;
and even tighter I embrace.
Consumed with pure admiration,
at the woman you’ve became.
your absence chastised me numb.
Although I know you had to,
spread those vast angelic wings.
I still can hear the laughter,
of a child’s heart that proudly sings.
These crashing, violent riptides;
will soon turn a peaceful wave.
Knowing the life I gave you,
is the life in me which you did save.
This current of my heart, is perfectly;
in synch with every beat.
A perfect bond between us;
without your love, I’m incomplete.