1423 days


I have survived 1423 days (3 years, 10 months, 23 days) without my beloved child.  

It has become easier.  I am used to the pain.  I am at peace with the fact that my child’s suffering is over.  I honor her memory every day of my life.  Every day, when I walk through the In-Patient-Unit of Stepping Stone Hospice I thank her for her selfless request that “no-one should suffer the way she did”.

Families talk to me about my brave little warrior and thank me.  Thank me?  I don’t think so.  I would never have had the guts to start a Hospice.  I would still be lying in my bed grieving.

Life has been hard without Vic.  It was so difficult getting my life back on track after she died.  I have missed her wisdom and guidance with the boys,  I have resented the fact that I have become a backup mother to my precious grandsons.  I wanted to be a mother and a grandmother.  I hated being a bereaved mother.  I still do.

Our lives have settled.  Until May this year.

On the 31st of May, I received a phone call from Jared (eldest grandson) to tell me his father had died.  I was filled with terror, heartache, and fear.  My go-to person was no longer around to advise me and run interference with the boys.

I was in England at the time of Colin’s death.  I flew back the same afternoon.  All I can remember of the flight was how my face ached from crying. I was heartbroken leaving my little UK granddaughters behind.  They sobbed.  I sobbed.  We all sobbed.  I dreaded arriving in South Africa and facing the boys’ heartache.  I was consumed with guilt that I wasn’t with them on that horrible day.

I arrived in South Africa to meet two dazed young men.  I had to go and identify Colin at the mortuary and once again arrange the funeral of a child.

On the surface, the boys were brave and yet so devastated.  I was heartbroken.  At a certain level, Colin’s funeral was more difficult than Vic’s.  Colin was young and healthy.  He had truly connected with the boys and they loved spending time with him and his new family to be.  They loved being part of a family.  Vic had been ill for so many years and her suffering inhuman.  I was relieved that her suffering was over.

But Colin was so young and alive.  He had so much to live for.  So much to give.  He was at peace with his life and in love with a wonderful woman.

The day Colin’s clothes were brought into Stepping Stone Hospice, as a donation, I had a total meltdown.  It was the second time a child of mine’s clothes were donated to Hospice.

Yet, time passed and I am once again getting used to the pain.  That horrible empty feeling in your heart when you suffer a great loss…

I read many blogs and I often wondered why people remained stuck in their grief.  I wondered why they were unable to move forward…

Vic’s eldest son started displaying signs of PTS (Post-traumatic stress).  He suffers from panic attacks  and stopped wanting to be home.  He was angry with the world and especially me.

There are many reasons for this and it is not for me to write about his reasons.

What I am able to write about is the fact that Jared was trying so hard to protect his little brother and I from the pain and trauma of Vic’s death that he never dealt with it for himself.  He spread his angel wings over us and never stopped looking to see whether we are okay or not.

Now this beautiful, “parentified” young man is caught up in a cycle of trying to deal with the layers of grief resulting from his parents’ deaths.  He is working so hard to learn how to deal with his complicated/compound grief.  He is brave and beautiful.  He is in so much pain.

But, I know that in time he will heal.  He is no longer avoiding his grief.  He is dealing with the cancer in his heart eating away at the very grain of his soul.

I pray that I will have the wisdom to guide him through this difficult time in his life as he guided his brother and me through the first years after Vic’s passing.  I pray that he will always remember my love for him.  I pray that I will learn to cope with my guilt of not protecting him from something that I was aware of…

I now know why people remain locked into that cycle of grief.

https://tersiaburger.com/2012/06/30/a-mothers-love-for-her-sons/

I miss you Angle Child!


Vic and her boys...

Vic and her boys…

Today I attended my first serious business meeting in almost three months.  I have really neglected my business.  Fortunately there was the Christmas recess, so it was not too bad.  The series of very important meetings scheduled for the week of the 13th of January was pushed back to the first week in February once I realized that Vic was dying.

I dreaded seeing my (all male) colleagues today.  I have known some of them for 25 years and they all knew of Vic’s precarious health.

I sat in my car outside the building and took deep breaths.  These guys have never known me to show emotion.  I have been stoic throughout Vic’s illness, many operations and setbacks.  I was petrified that I would not be able to contain my grief!

Lots of hugs and pats on the back dispersed with the sympathies…a hushed silence followed me into the boardroom.  With a couple of minutes to spare before the start of the meeting the guys decided to go smoke. 

“It must be a relief for you to not have the responsibility of a sick child any more…” the one said through a cloud of smoke…..

“Yes” said another.  “It has been many years”….

I did not have to dignify the insensitive remarks with a response as one of the female directors came out and hugged me.  “I have no words for you” she said.

We went into the board room and took our seats.  Being our first meeting of the year the normal New Year pleasantries was exchanged.   I coped beautifully.

The meeting began and as soon as I started speaking I could hear a quiver in my voice!  I was mortified!  I shut up as quickly as possible and spent a couple of minutes trying to compose myself without drawing any attention to myself.  Breathe in through my abdomen …exhale!  Breathe in – exhale… My hands were shaking so I clutched my pen tightly!  I put my hands on the boardroom table to steady them.

For years I have NEVER switched off my cell phone in case Vic needed me.  If I was away from home (or even when I was home) I would fall asleep in with my phone in my hand.  24/7 my phone was on.

In a way it was liberating switching my phone off when the meeting started.

When I got home this afternoon I sat reading through my old BBM messages from Vic.

“Vomiting again”

 “Can I phone you Mommy?”

 “Mommy may I have morphine?  I am so sore!”

 “Still vomiting”

 “When will you be home Mommy?”

Tonight the boys went to their dad for dinner.  Danie and I popped in at a friend whose daughter-in-law was paralysed in a motorbike accident on the 8th of December.  Her three beautiful granddaughters seem a little bewildered.  Their mommy is in rehab and their daddy is staying with her 24/7.  My friend became a substitute mommy for the girls.  I have become a substitute mom to the boys again.

It was strange going to dinner – just the two of us.

Last night I covered schoolbooks… tomorrow morning I will take Jon-Daniel to the orthodontist to have his braces removed.  Vic desperately wanted to live for the “event”.  I hope she will be there in spirit.  Tomorrow afternoon Jared and I will go and make an appointment for our motorbike learner licenses!

I am battling to contain my grief.  I am trying to find the time to research “teenage grief”.  How do we know how to treat grieving teenage boys?  What if we make mistakes?  What if we fail Vic and her boys?  I fear I am not spending enough time with the boys.

Life is a mess.

I miss you angel child!