When a child dies…


“When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for which has been your delight”. ~ Kahlil Gibran.

At times the pain and feelings of desolate loss is overwhelming.  I know it is because I loved Vic so much.  I am grieving because I miss my child, the mother of my grandchildren, my friend.  I miss drinking endless cups of tea…. sometimes laughing and sometimes weeping.

I have grown used to not constantly checking my text messages when I sit in meetings.  I have actually forgotten my phone at home on two occasions.  I miss the countless phonecalls, finding little notes everywhere…. a soft kiss on the forehead.

When a parent dies, you lose your past; when a child dies, you lose your future. – Anonymous

 

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One day less


I am glad the day is over.  I am grateful that I am one day closer to being reunited with my precious child.

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Tonight I fulfilled one more of Vic’s wishes.

Twenty five years ago Vic was the bridesmaid at my brother and sister-in-laws wedding.  She looked beautiful in a real grown-up pink dress…  They gave her a string of perfect little pearls which she treasured and wore on very special occasions.

After Vic died I came across the string of pearls with a little note.

The note read: “25 years ago Johan and Henda gave me these because I was their bridesmaid.  I would like to now return it to them…”

She wrote them a note telling them how much she loved them.  She told my brother that he was her hero.  She told my sister-in-law that she was amazing….

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Vic and her precious Uncle Johan

Marlene, BFF – Rest in Peace my beautiful friend!


Today, two years ago my best friend died.  On the one hand it feels as if a life time has passed and yet it is as if it was yesterday…

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There are only a handful of people who come into your world, and touch your life in a dramatic fashion.  Some of the people are just flickers of light during a long life, while others are a consistent glow for years.  For me, Marlene was my consistent glow.

I met Marlene 27 years ago.  We immediately started chatting and never stopped!  For 25 years Marlene and I were inseparable.  We would be in one another’s company for hours and within 10 minutes of leaving one another, one of us would remember something else that we forgot to mention and call the other.  Our first words would be “Hi  Poepies, I forgot to tell you…….. “

Marlene was one of the most beautiful people I have ever known.  Nobody looked good next to her.  At most we merely enhanced her beauty…  Marlene was totally unaware of the effect her beauty had on people.  She was very, very hard on herself.  I miss that beautiful laughter of hers – nobody could laugh (or cry) like my friend.

25 years of friendship!
25 years of friendship!

Marlene was a human SPCA.  It is ironic that her heart, that was so big, eventually let her down. 

I was privileged to deliver her eulogy.  At her memorial service I saw a sea of faces.  Old friends, new friends, school friends, work colleagues, family.  Marlene had compassion that was scary… always wanting to help – to do… The word “Love” is a verb; not an adjective…Marlene knew that.  She lived that knowledge.

She always made her friends and loved ones designer gifts.

Marlene and I agreed many years ago that we would “make” gifts…I thought we would bake biscuits or something… My birthday was the first “homemade” gift event…my dear friend made me a porcelain doll with photos of Vic, the boys and Danie in a necklace….  How could I ever compete with that???

My poceline doll
My porcelain doll

Marlene’s personal best friend had to be the phone…She LOVED speaking on her cell regardless of whether she was driving or not…she spoke on the phone every spare minute she had.  Marlene and Sonja spoke from the crack of dawn… I am a late starter, but we spoke until late at night.  On the Tuesday of her death I spoke to her at 10:45am – I started phoning her just after 3pm because I was in Marlene chat withdrawal…Needless to say I think Marlene was already chatting to angel Gabriel and boy did she have a lot that she wanted to tell him…

Christmas was Marlene’s favourite time of the year.  For decades our families celebrated Christmas together.  Her home looked like SANTALAND..  Marlene was an amazing cook.  She had a standing rule – everyone had to have two helpings of food to qualify for dessert!  She was an amazing hostess.

Marlene helping me "get married"
Marlene helping me “get married”

Marlene had a relationship with God that was a very personal relationship.  I don’t know anyone who worked so hard at herself – Marlene strove for perfection…The day she died Marlene was at peace with her God.  Marlene is exactly where she has wanted to be for so many years – at the feet of her Heavenly Father.

Marlene was so happy the last couple of weeks of her life – the business had picked up, she had forged beautiful friendships with some of her clients and that was a source of great joy to her;  Marlene was at peace in her friendships and was on the brink of a new life with an old friend.

The perfect hostess, the life and soul of a party!
The perfect hostess, the life and soul of a party!

Marlena, I love and miss you.  I still feel lost without you.  Thank you for a lifetime of chats, unconditional love, all Vic’s school concerts you sat through.  Thank you for your loving support with Vic over the years; the times you kept me company when Vic was in hospital.  Thank you for “tolerating” my busy house.  I KNOW my house drove you crazy with all the grandchildren.   Thank you for allowing me to believe that I made better pancakes and fudge than you did…I still don’t trust those statements, but I will give you the benefit of the doubt!

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Vic's Kitchen Tea...
Vic’s Kitchen Tea…

My dearest friend, I hope you are resting at the feet of your Heavenly Father; I hope that you are experiencing the peace that you craved on earth.  I hope you and Vic have organized a wonderful anniversary party in Heaven celebrating the Ultimate Event in your life.

Thank you for being here when Vic passed.  She told me before she lapsed into a coma that her Gramps and you were in her room; that you were there to guide her on her final journey…

Marlene and Vic at Marlene's 50th birthday Party
Marlene and Vic at Marlene’s 50th birthday Party

I am selfish when I say “I wish you were here”.  I miss you little sister and best friend!

Most precious friend
Most precious friend

I feel death coming closer…


Photo Credit to:  thegardeningblog.co.za
Photo Credit to: thegardeningblog.co.za

Today I read the post of a very dear blogger friend.  She is an unbelievably strong and resilient woman who is dying from congenital heart failure.  She is a medical professional who served her country bravely.  Sandra is married to an amazing man, and she loves his children dearly.  They are a great source of joy to her.

I have just re-read most of Sandra’s old posts.  It filled me with sadness reading her brave posts, an almost intellectual outlook on death… My friend is not a stranger to death.  As a medical professional she encountered death often.  Death in every form, indiscriminate of age, colour or creed.

Sandra posted : 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/2011/03/25/

When I read this post I recognised the same almost detached approach to death that Vic had…As emotionally intelligent people Vic and Sandra look at death and know that their loved ones are the ones who will suffer the loss.  Vic so often expressed her concern for her loved ones who would be left behind.  My friend does the same in her posts…

Sandra wrote:

I believe and hope that I will die with dignity,

we are not born with fear and so we can die without fear. I think a lot of us are not so much afraid of dying as we are of not being remembered. it is only human to hope that our kids will have some fond memory, our grandkids, friends and maybe even some people who just passed through on the way to somewhere else. I would like to think there will be some fond memories of me. Chris is going to have a memorial at our home (I think) for me. I have asked for a celebration of my life. remember me as I am a real person with some good some bad and some … that should maybe stay in the vault:)

http://thedrsays.org/2011/04/

Today she posted: “for tonight i am not going to lie to you. i feel death coming closer, i hear the bear growl.  at times i think i may see her but then she moves a little and we continue down this path.  the toxins are working their way through my body to the skin where they are sores that itch and bleed.  i have these toxins because my liver and kidneys are not working the way they should.  my liver is enlarged and causes great pain. it is like having the worst charlie horse you have ever experienced just under your ribcage on the right side of your body. of course the spleen takes up its chorus on the left side and the kidneys can be felt in more places than you think and may be different in different people.  i am so weak at times that just standing takes a monumental effort.  my arms and legs can turn to shaking jello.  sometimes my eyes won’t focus and my mind is hard to clear.  forget about reading or even looking at the temp control on the wall.”  http://thedrsays.org/2013/04/29/sex-lies-and-videotapes/

I am re-living Vic’s final journey with this precious, brave woman.

The purpose of my post is to thank Sandra for her friendship, support, guidance, compassion and advice over the past year.  Often when I vented about Vic being stubborn or ill Sandra would gently advise me from a terminally ill person’s point of view.  She opened my eyes to so much of my child’s emotions and personal struggle…  She knows because it is her journey too.

My friend is a medical professional and KNOWS what is happening in her body.  Vic knew too…

In November 2012 Vic started saying that death was close…she would not bounce back this time…and now my friend says “I feel death coming closer…”

Oh my friend what can I say?  I know the emotional agony that Vic went through when she was where you are now.  I wish I could give you some of my health.  I wish I could wave a magic wand, and you would have more time.  We both know I cannot do any of this.

Please know I hold you in my heart.  I am sad that your journey is almost over.  I am so sad for the dreadful pain you are in.  I hope you are having pro-active symptom control.

I want to thank you today whilst you are strong enough to hear my words. Thank you for your friendship, compassion and support over the past couple of months.

I think you are incredibly brave, and you remind me of Vic…Stubborn, compassionate, intelligent…amazing!  I hope that you will meet her when it is your time to cross over.  Please know that I treasure you as a dear friend.

I pray for a miracle, that you will have lots of time, pain-free days.  Know that you are loved and admired.  I wish we had met.

I am not saying goodbye – just thank you for being a wonderful friend

To all my blogger friends out there – please pray for Sandra and Chris….

I remember their sadness…


Sacre Coeur Basilica Paris
Sacre Coeur Basilica Paris

Many years ago I had to travel to Paris, on business, with two male clients.  The one middleaged man, advised me that his wife would accompany us.  I thought it was strange but did not give it much thought.  We had to attend the Eurostatory exhibition.  It may sound like fun, but exhibitions are hard work!!  We also had to travel to a neighbouring city to visit a manufacturer of products…  One arrives at the exhibition at 9am and you leave at 5 pm.  It is a lot of slow walking and standing.

Add the frustration of the Paris traffic and commuting between the exhibition centre and hotel….

Dinner is followed by falling into the bed and just “dying”…

My first thought was that this was a jealous wife who did not trust her husband on a business trip with a female colleague… the only other reason would be that she thought it would be a very sociable trip, lots of sightseeing and shopping.  Oh what the hell – as long as I was not expected to keep her company or take her shopping!

About a week before we left I found out that the couple had lost their son a couple of weeks before in a car accident.  I felt sad for them, made a phone call, asked my secretary to send flowers.  My life carried on…

I met the client and his wife at the airport.  Their eyes were so incredibly sad.  It made me feel very uncomfortable.  I remember telling them that the trip would be “healing”…  They nodded and said nothing.

We arrived in Paris on the Friday morning.  I told them that as soon as they has unpacked and freshened up we would start our adventure.  We would head out to Sacre Ceour…one of my favourite places!

Our first stop was the Sacre Ceour Cathedral.  We entered the cathedral and everyone was in awe of the beauty of the cathedral.  They asked why people were lighting candles.  I explained that people were lighting candles for loved ones who had died.

The husband and wife walked off wordlessly and went to light a candle for their dead son.  I was touched and sad for them.

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Over the years we have become ‘distant’ friends…we stay in contact, we exchange notes on our grandchildren, he phoned me when his daughter was diagnosed with cancer.  We cried together.  He said “You are the only one who will understand my fear…”  He knew Vic was ill.

I saw him today for the first time in about 18 months.  We spoke about business and a potential co-operation on a new project.  He said nothing about Vic.  He asked no questions.

Eventually, I said “Vic died three months ago you know…”

He said “I heard.  I tried to phone you, but you did not answer your phone.”

“I spoke to no-one” I said

“She is in a better place you know” he said.

“So let’s talk about how we are going to tackle this project” I said

I remembered the sadness in their eyes.  I remembered all the candles they lit for their son.  I remember not understanding their grief.

Now I burn candles for my beautiful child!

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An empty bottle of coffee


Vic's favorite beverage
Vic’s favorite beverage

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

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

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

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

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

The nights are so long without our chats.

 

 

 

Vic has left home for the last time…


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

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

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

I brushed her beautiful hair. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vic left home – forever.