St Joseph’s Lilies…

Photo Credit to:
Photo Credit to:

Someone phoned Colin and told him it was okay to bring the boys home…

My friend Judy arrived.  I can’t remember for love or money what she said.  I do remember the comfort I felt from her presence.  The boys arrived and we group hugged.  I remember thinking “how calm they are”…

I took them through to Vic’s room, the linen had already been changed and the room tidied.  One would never say someone as precious as my beautiful Vic had died in the room a couple of hours earlier…  Vic’s room looked the same as it would have looked if she was in hospital.  As if she would be home within a couple of days or weeks … as thousands of times before.

We cried a bit.  We spoke about her suffering being over.  I could sense her gentle spirit.

Vic’s room was not a scary place to be.  Esther said that it was a room of love…  I was so scared the boys would not want to go into Vic’s room, that they would associate the room with death.  My dad too died in that room…  I knew I had to sleep in Vic’s bed (again) that night.

The minister and undertaker arrived at the same time.  The minister had prayed for Vic so many times in her life…he knew her well.  I always called him my “secret weapon”.  On umpteen occasions he prayed the dying prayer and Vic would miraculously recover!  This time it had not worked.  This time he would pray the prayer for the dead…

The boys and Colin sat in on the meeting.  We discussed the service and I requested that Vic not be referred to as the “deceased”.  Vic had given me the order of the service, the hymns she wanted sung and the names of her pallbearers.    The boys decided on Psalm 71 as the Scripture reading – it was Vic’s favourite Psalm and one of their favourites.  It was easy.  The minister, Bella, prayed and left.

The undertaker hauled out his I pad and within minutes he had scanned Vic’s and my ID documents.  He showed us lots of photos of different caskets.  We chose a dark coloured rectangular casket.

“Would you like flowers on the coffin?” he asked

“Oh yes” I said.  “St Joseph’s lilies – lots and lots of them” I asked.

“How big must the bouquet be?” he asked

“The entire length and width of the coffin” I replied

“That’s a lot of flowers” he said.  “The coffin is 2m long…”

“That’s far too big” I said

“Mommy will slide up and down in the coffin” one of the boys said….

“Don’t worry” he said.  “We put in wedges so she would slide around”

“We want 2 metres of flowers” I said

“Can we add another type of flower” he asked

White roses” the boys said simultaneously

“Do you want a viewing or an open casket” the undertaker asked.

No!  No-one is to see Vic the ways she looks now.” I said

The funeral was arranged.



Valley of Death

January 2013.  Today was a special day.

Boys lying with Vic before Chris' arrival
Boys lying with Vic before Chris’ arrival

Yesterday Vic asked me to contact her minister.  Chris arrived at our home at 9.30am.  We all sat in Vic’s room whilst Chris read Psalm 23 and prayed for Vic who was walking through the “valley of death.” She prayed for Vic to find peace and acceptance of her situation.

Chris then served Holy Communion.  Vic, at first, did not want Jon-Daniel to partake in the Communion.  Chris explained that a child having to be confirmed before they are allowed to partake in Communion is a man-made rule.  I pointed out to Vic that it would be very special if Jon-Daniel could have his first Communion with her… Vic agreed.

Chris ministering to Vic
Chris ministering to Vic

It was so special.

I was filled with deep gratitude that we as a family have the opportunity of making memories every day. Today I am particularly grateful that Jon-Daniel will always carry the memory of his first Holy Communion with him.  Even if his mom does not attend his confirmation he will remember that he took his first Holy Communion with her.

Vic and Jon-Daniel after taking Communion
Vic and Jon-Daniel after taking Communion

For the first time in a long time I was grateful for Vic lingering death.  I am grateful that Jared had the opportunity to tell her that she is a legend and that she will always live on in so many people’s minds and hearts.  That Stepping Stone Hospice is her legacy….


Jared and his Mom
Jared and his Mom

Dying isn’t a science. There is no methodical process of coming to terms with death.  The reality of what is busy happening to Vic is frightening and overwhelming.  Earlier this week, when I gave one of the boys permission to go out, Vic said “See Mommy, this is why I cannot die.  I don’t know if you will be strict enough with the boys…”

Vic is desperately clinging to life.  Vic is afraid of losing control of her bodily functions and becoming a burden to us.  Vic is afraid of the act of dying.

The rest of us are scared because we want her suffering to end.  We know we will experience terrible guilt afterwards… Even as I am typing I KNOW I will second guess everything I did for Vic and every decision I ever made regarding her medical care.  This is just the way it is…

Angela and Tracey visited today.  The visits are so exhausting for Vic and yet she did not want them  to leave.  Every time they say “I must go…” Vic will pout and say “just stay a little longer…”

Vic, Tracey and Angela sharing a laugh
Vic, Tracey and Angela sharing a laugh

The weight is just falling off Vic.  She managed to keep in a mug of diet “Cup of Soup”.  Small mercies!

Lelani picked up the new morphine script from Dr Sue.  She made imprints of the boys’ hands for Vic… She massaged Vic’s little feet.  Jon-Daniel and I swam and Jared went with his girlfriend and her parents to a day resort.  Danie picked up the script from the pharmacy and washed his own motorbike.  (First time in 15 years….he always has it done!)

Vic being pampered by her sister Lani
Vic being pampered by her sister Lani

A normal day in the life of a family walking through the valley of death…I don’t want to forget any part of it.


I always pray for you but you don’t seem to have a guardian angel 17.6.2012

It has been a busy weekend!  Friday afternoon Reuben and Nonthanthle came to visit.  Reuben is my son from another mother and Nonthanthle is his beautiful wife.  She is 14 weeks pregnant with their first baby.  Life and death go hand-in-hand and I wonder if this is the baby that will celebrate Vic’s life?

Reuben is a pastor in a poor community.  He is an amazing person filled with love and compassion.  I truly admire him for all the hurdles he has overcome in life.  He is proud and yet not scared to talk about his fears.  He fears that he will not be a good father to the baby… It made me think: What makes a good father? 

So today, on Fathersday, I reflected on fatherhood…

I was blessed with a wonderful father.  My Dad was a gentleman as well as a gentle man.  He was a  wonderful provider, husband, father and friend.  A cruel blow of fate was dealt this wonderful, proud  man when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.  Mercifully my dad succumbed to Alzheimer’s Pneumonia on the 20th of May 2011.  So, even though I could not wish him a happy Fathersday today, I have first hand experience and knowledge  of what a good father should be like…

Danie is a wonderful father to Vic.  If she had been a biological child he could not have been more caring and loving than he is.   Vic’s own father could not handle the guilt knowing that he was a carrier of Osteogenesis Imperfecta.  He coped with the diagnosis by walking away.  He could not handle seeing her broken little body knowing that it was his genes that caused it.  We were so young.  I no longer judge him but I am grateful that he is not around to see her suffering now.  I know that when the time comes Tienie will be around to help her pass…

Vic so desperately wanted to get out of bed to be with the family at lunch.  Poor poppet only made it to the bathroom.  She sobbed her little heart out.  Esther, gentle soul that she is, lay with Vic until her sobs subsided. .. Eventually the pain meds kicked in and she was able to  sleep peacefully for a while.

I received a sms from Robbie (Vic’s  friend) and she wrote ” I feel so sorry for you all.  Poor Vicky.  Its too awful.  For all of you.  One wonders if God is watching.  I always pray for you but you don’t seem to have a guardian angel”

 Some days I agree.  Today after having the kids around for the day I disagree.  Guardian angels come in many different forms.  Some come as a  young pastor  who travels far and at great expense to come and pray for Mercy, a sister (Esther) who lies beside Vic and cries with her, another sister (Lani) who brings flowers and milk tart, a Dad  who takes Vic toast and coffee at 06:30 so she can have tablets.  We are surrounded by guardian angels…

I pray that Vic will have a good night’s sleep – undisturbed by pain. 

I pray for just one more good day with the boys.