Sunday, December 28, 2008

And Still the Questions

Each day Stuart spends about three hours questioning me as to what happened to his Daddy. The first hour of his day and then again for up to two hours before he goes to sleep. Many of the same questions are gone over in depth and detail again and again mainly checking that "Papa" is dead and why the doctors could not help him and why he cannot return.

Then during the day come the new ideas on how we can possibly help him and the concerns as to whether he is hungry or cold. An anxious little face saying "if we give the doctors more money maybe they can fix Papa" or "I love Daddy so much, I need to hug him" can put out the stars; crack my heart.

We are following the advice of councillors and Hospice who state for his age group he is doing exactly as expected. He also questions our close friends and family to see if they will come up with the same answer or be able to provide a new one. They were so close, Duncan who had been orphaned twice as a child, took his parenting role very seriously and was a wonderful father. My heart breaks thinking of all that he will miss of Stuart growing up and all that Stuart will miss growing up without him in his life.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Freedom of Death

In anguish I dwell secluded,
in this vast empty space.

As, bursting with sorrow, my soul divides
A chasm engulging the last of my strength
Though once never fearful now my sad heart quakes

Bright smiles having been replaced
this shattered woman exposed and vulnerable
in hurt, hides her face.

Being brave on the outside ravaged within
yet this short life falters on
still decades before the freedom of death.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Completely Overwhelmed on Christmas Day

At times, I am so overwhelmed it is almost more than I can bear not to sink to my knees and howl with the agony of being alive. I want to just go to sleep and not wake up; for every moment I am conscious my head feels like a battlefield.

I cannot function anymore, outwardly I am trying to be brave but I don’t know how to persevere - I can barely continue this thing called life. This pain, this torment is binding, oppressing and slowly destroying me. My life seems overcast with a sad sense of waste, anger, hurt and brittleness.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve

I had a really good day today. Stuart and I fetched Mitchell and we did a bit of last minute shopping. Then Mitch's new girlfriend, Emma, came over and we spent a lot of time outdoors playing with Stuart.

This is the first Christmas that Stuart can really understand all about Father Christmas and his Sleigh and so he has been very excited and put in his requests when we met him at the Shopping Mall for a Blue Bicycle and a Hammer.

We had planned to have a large Christmas Lunch on Christmas Day with lots of family and friends this year but I just could not face it without Duncan and so those plans were cancelled. During the day I set the table with almost as many trimmings as I would have originally and did all the food prep.

My friend Jill and her daughter Lorian joined us in the evening and we had a delightful time. Jill was so good with Stuart when he talked about and questioned her quite often about Duncan. Even though she had not been forewarned this may happen she handled the situation like a pro. I was so glad that Mitch was here as having to play "Santa" on my own would have been devastating but instead, as always, I had his support and we had fun putting the presents around the tree. I know tomorrow might be a different story but I am grateful for having had this little respite today.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

What to Say to a Grieving Friend

Having been through many years of infertility and many IVF's to have Stuart I thought I had grown a relatively thick skin to people's insensitive comments. Here a childhood friend of mine, and fellow infertile, logged some typical ones on her blog:

It seems that people do not know how to act or react when you have suffered the loss of someone close. Many are grieving for that person themselves, some just don't know what to say.

"What a terrible time of year (Christmas) for this to happen"
Any time of year would be terrible. There is always a special day and it is going to be difficult to bare. Valentines Day, His, My or Stuart's Birthday, Our Anniversary and so on.

"Well have an awesome Christmas"
Yes, I was actually wished this in a variety of ways straight after discussing Duncan's tragic death. What did they think? Now that I am single I would be hitting the clubs?

"I understand how you feel, my husband just left me"
No you don't! Your husband will still be there to hold a little hand on your child's first day at school, to proudly see him graduate and dance at his wedding. I do not despise my husband; he did not choose to go.

Here is a site that has a few more:

Sunday, December 7, 2008

I Silently Begged

I remember every part of the journey to the hospital in almost hyper-reality. Everything was acutely sharp and clear. Tearing through the morning traffic in the Ambulance on that fateful day and then that same road each morning at 7hoo and home again at 23h00 over the next ten days. And every day, along that road, I silently begged for this not to be happening.

And each day when I massaged his hands and feet, when I say quietly and held his hand, when I spoke to him and shared my hopes and fears, when I lay next to him and held him close and took in the familiar smell of him, I silently begged.

I kept thinking if only I could wake up from this nightmare. How could this be reality? He is still young, we adore him so much, we have so many plans still to fulfill, he has so much to offer to so many people. I silently begged that he would stand up and walk out of that hospital and I would have changed places with him in a heartbeat.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

My Darling Husband, Duncan

You are…

Morning kisses on my cheek to wake me.
Ten-line SMS’s just to say you care
Tender touches when no one is looking.
Tender touches when someone is there.

My safe place on the coldest winter days
Vigour and vulnerability all rolled into one.
My answer to questions still to be asked.
The comic that knows just what I call fun.

The lingering scent of last night’s shower.
Gentle words meant only for my ears.
Smiles that make me feel warm and cared for
The strength that takes away all my fears.

My Love, My Life, My Rock, My All.
You Complete Me.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Celebration of the Life of Duncan Gray

25 March 1961 - 2 December 2008

Obituary: Dr Duncan Gray

Duncan was born in Cape Town and schooled in Pretoria, on completing his BVSc (Bachelor of Veterinary Science) at Onderstepoort in 1987 he purchased and ran a veterinary hospital in Pretoria. After serving at the practice as a Veterinary General Practitioner until 1990, Duncan joined the Faculty of Veterinary Science at Onderstepoort as a Senior Lecturer.

In December 1992, Duncan left his professional career as veterinarian to enter the real estate industry as an Estate Agent for Seeff Properties, operating in Sinoville in Pretoria. Promotions came in quick succession. Duncan was promoted to Branch Manager for the Seeff Menlyn operation, then to Regional Manager Northern Transvaal, and later to Regional Manager Transvaal. During this time, Duncan enrolled through the UNISA School of Business Leadership and completed a Masters Degree in Business Leadership in 1998.

In 1995, an opportunity arose to assume the position of General Manager for JH Isaacs Residential, with special responsibility for Eskel Jawitz Real Estate, one of two trading divisions at that time. In 1999 he made the move to gain multinational corporate experience through the appointment to Pfizer Animal Health as National Sales Manager. Over the next few years various promotions resulted in his appointment as Regional Director and Chief Executive Officer for Pfizer Animal Health Sub-Saharan Africa Region.

In 2005 Duncan felt that he had fulfilled his potential within the pharmaceutical industry, but that his growth prospects in real estate were still incomplete. Given his belief in the long term strength of the market and a desire to conclude a still open chapter, he sought a mechanism to re-enter the property industry and capitalize on his years of multinational experience. Building on this period in corporate management at senior and international levels, the association with Century 21 was an ideal opportunity.Duncan approached Century 21 Real Estate in Parsippany, New Jersey and concluded the Master Franchise Agreement for South Africa on 20 December 2005.

Duncan is survived by his loving wife, Colleen, and sons Mitchell and Stuart.

Widowed Too Soon

In ten days my life changed in a way that can never be undone, that no matter what happens in the world - if there is global economic crisis, if I work or stay at home, if I keep going to gym or stop swearing in traffic, if Table Mountain shook, crumbled and fell and was washed away in the sea, if anything joyous, or horrific or wrenching happened, anything that filled me with awe or wonder or terror or love - at the centre of it there will always be one irrevocable thing - the death of my precious husband and the father of our child.

I've had about enough of people telling me how strong I am and how great I am doing during this awful, difficult time. I would rather hear someone say how terrible it is, how outrageous and unfair. Maybe it would be nice for someone to say that I don't have to be strong all the time. That it is okay to curse fate and weep, that there is no right or wrong way at a time like this.

Every morning I awake to a recurring nightmare, all I want is for it to end but I have to keep moving forward for the sake of our child. I have to attend endless meetings trying to wind up Duncan's business for the end of the year, talking, thinking, signing documents, coming home way after dark worn out and wishing his arms were there to run into and knowing that instantly he would be able take all this anguish away. Instead I have to sort out what needs to be done on the building site - we were in the middle of a major renovation at home - then I start with my own work and fall into bed around 2 only to start it all again at 5. At least I am too tired to think ahead for more than the next few hours.

And then there is Stuart....that little face, those big blue eyes asking for his Daddy.