Monday, June 26, 2006


Last weekend Wonder and I drove to country estate "De Brookberg" in Neer (Limburg) to celebrate Litha with the Children of the Circle. We signed up for it some time ago. I had been doubting whether I should go or not, but decided to give it a go. In the introduction circle I told about my mum and I got sympathy and support right away. It was a wonderful group of people. Most of them I didn't know, but I felt at ease from the first moment.

Wonder had bought a new tent. There's a lot of room inside and you can stand upright in it. Wonder decorated it with a little altar, his drum, blankets and a box with candles. The view from the front was magnificent. The lake is beautiful and so is the landscape around it.

After the introduction the group split in two: workshop healing drawing and the sweat lodge. Wonder and I opted for the sweat lodge. He had done it before, for me it was the first time. The group itself built the sweat lodge. The framework was covered with blankets and canvas to keep the warmth in and the light out. We piled up big stones. With each stone we named a wish of transformation; I asked guilt to be transformed in freedom to be myself. The next stones we piled with a wish for someone else; I wished Ron could share in the energy and warmth I was receiving this weekend. Around the stones a big fire was built to heat them. While they were getting hot we took a dive in the lake, skinny-dipping. It was cold at first. The lake seemed to give me energy: I swam a fairly large round! Then it was time to enter the sweat lodge. It was dark and very hot. The sweat kept pouring of me, but I felt okay. We meditated and thanked the Great Mother. We did two rounds and in between and after we went into the lake to cool off. It was a very special experience, that I won't forget lightly...

In the evening we had dinner; everybody had brought something. We had self-made bread, white and whole meal. I took some soup and bread. After dinner I went for a walk along the lake on my own. There were sheep and water birds. I sat down and stroke a lamb, sooo cute! I took a picture of the sun behind a tree; I now have it as my desktop background. When I got back we walked to another place on the bank of the lake to have a drum circle. Wonder couldn't use his own drum; it had been too close to the fire and the skin had gotten out of the band. Therefore we took place behind the big round drum together. Wonder started to drum, but I didn't have the guts. Later Benjamin2Bears convinced me to try so I did, very gently. Wonder was in some kind of trance and was beating in a catching rhythm. I took it over and we drummed together. It was great!! At some moment I was overcome by the rhythm and started crying. One of the men encouraged me and put his arm around me to comfort me. It felt good to let it out. Afterwards we walked back and decided to go to bed.

After a good night I woke up around 7am. I went to the bathroom and then took a walk. In front of the tent I enjoyed the beautiful view. It was still early so I went back to sleep for a while. I missed breakfast, but wanted to swim in the lake one more time. I was all alone and it felt very magical. After everyone finished packing their stuff we stood in the circle to close it. I thanked everyone for their contribution to this weekend and told them I was very glad I had come. I've met wonderful people and the group feeling was very special. It was a pity to leave these splendid surroundings, but I was also very glad to come home with Ron again.

To see all of our pictures look here.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Rob's Arena

And now for something completely different....
Yesterday I went to my first Robbie Williams concert in the Amsterdam Arena. Mum had made me promise in the hospital that I would go and enjoy myself. Months ago the F-gang (forum-gang) from the RW forum agreed to go very early in the morning so we would be on front row. The girls had contacted me last week about it. I didn't know whether I would be able to manage that now. They said I could come later and they would see to it that I have a place with them. And they did! Ron dropped me around 11am. It was crowded already, but I just walked to the front and sat down. The waiting wasn't as tiring as I anticipated. It was long, but it was a nice group and I was as comfortable as possible. When we were allowed into the stadium, we had to run to the podium. Nothing for me, but again the girls had reserved a place for me in the middle of the front row. One of the best places to be!

Again we had to wait. The first support act (Orson) wasn't my cup of tea, but the second (Basement Jaxx) was very good. After that... waiting... and then... there he was! He entered from under the podium and arose right in front of me. I could almost touch him. Wow!! The start of an amazing and brilliant show. He looked as sexy as ever and his performance was the best! I can't believe I looked into those stunning green eyes for real! He sang "old" and new songs, a perfect mix. He did "Me and my shadow" and "Strong" with his best pal Jonathan Wilkes. He chatted in between songs and seemed to have a great time. Well, I sure did! Mum and dad must have been smiling from above when they saw me...

Way too soon the encores were done and the concert ended. In a whirl of exitement we left the stadium. We ate something and drank a lot (Diet Coke). Three of the other F-gang girls came home with me and spent the night at our place. Needless to say what my dreams were about last night. Sigh... Do I really have to wake up...? ;-)

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Mum – what happened

On Monday of last week mum called me after visiting hours. She sounded positive. There had been 6 visitors (4 planned, 2 unannounced) but she felt okay. Just a bit tired so she wanted to go to sleep early. The next day when she woke up she didn’t feel good: she was short of breath. By the time I arrived in Haarlem it had only gotten worse. The doctor decided to make an X-ray and ultra-sound scan. Fortunately that could be done in her room. We “hoped” there would be fluid behind her lungs or around her heart, because that was treatable. It wasn’t… The doctor was very honest: this was the aorta valve playing up. The only thing left was giving morphine against the pain and shortness of breath. Mum said it before he did: this is the beginning of the end. He confirmed that.

She was moved to a private room on another ward. I called Ron and asked him to call Joke and Gerard. If they wanted to speak to her while she was still conscious, they had to come now. Within a short period of time everyone arrived, including the sons of Gerard. Ron called mum’s sister. She was too far away to come in time, but she talked to mum on the phone.
During all this mum was cheerful, even made jokes. She was well aware of what was happening, but she was okay with it. She has always been terrified for dying, but she wasn’t anymore. She told me she would have loved to live longer, but now that this wasn’t possible she accepted it fully. She talked about the people she would meet again on the other side: dad, her brothers and sisters, nephew, friends. In spite of the situation I was glad she could see it like that. It made it a bit less hard to let her go.

I stayed the night with her; the nurses had placed an extra bed in her room for me. I didn’t sleep much, always had an eye on her. When mum had gotten a double dose of morphine I fell asleep. I dreamed of dad and asked him to take care of mum. He assured me he would and said: “half past 4”. I didn’t understand, but the dream was very comforting.

Mum was glad I was with her. In between the morphine injections she was awake and conscious. She put her arm around me and thanked me for all that I’ve done for her. She asked me to forgive her for not wanting me when she was pregnant. Of course I did, I know how much she loves and appreciates me. She reminded me of little things to do after her death, but I reassured her everything would be settled in the best way possible. One time she woke up and waved at me. She asked me: “Why do I wake up again? I don’t want to anymore. I want to go, is that okay?” I told her it was fine. The last time she woke up I asked her if she was short of breath. She nodded no. I walked to her and asked if she was comfortable. She wanted to sit up a bit more straight. I put my arms around her to help her. Then suddenly she stiffened. I called the nurse. He went to get Joke (who also was in the hospital) and the doctor. Joke was just in time. When the doctor came, she confirmed mum had gone. It was half past 4…

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


My mother passed away this morning...
I don't know what else to write. I feel so empty...

Update June 16:
Thank you for all the support and sympathy we are receiving:
e-mails, phonecalls, SMS, (e-)cards, etc. Very much appreciated!
I have also made an online condolence register.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Other stuff

The last weeks life was so hectic I only updated my blog about my mum. Thanks again for your interest and support! I'll still be posting about mum of course, but right now I want to share something else.

We are finally settling in living downstairs. In the beginning it felt like we were in a holiday home or something, I can't explain. There are still things that have to be done, but that's okay. Here are pictures to get an impression:

The dogs are already used to the new situation. Boris also stays downstairs at night and he's fine with that. Foofur still comes with us. When the garage door is open, Sidney (the daughter of our neighbours across the street) comes to play or just be with the dogs. Boris and Foofur obviously like her!
Poemel didn't feel at home at all downstairs. She refused to come down and kept escaping upstairs. In the end we decided to let her live there and now she's happy again. I'm with her often, because my computer is still there. I make time to be with her and give some tlc. It's okay.

The Fifa Football World Cup 2006 in Germany kicked off last Friday. I'm not the biggest football fan, but I like to see the matches of the Dutch national team. The Netherlands fall under a spell and turn orange (our national colour). Saturday Ron and another neighbour from across the street "pimped" his white Fiat Panda (almost ready for the scrapyard) into a Dutch WC-car with BMW-emblems. They attracted a great deal of attention and had lots of fun. The result looks magnificent!
The Netherlands won their first groupmatch against Serbia and Montenegro with 1-0. This friday they'll play against Côte d'Ivoire and on June 21st they meet Argentina.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Closer to home

Friday morning the nurse called me to ask if I wanted to come and see my mum. She was very emotional and sad. Also an assistent-doctor had said some things in a very unpleasant way. Perhaps it was his Amsterdam kind of humour, but I wasn't at all humoured when I heard it. The surgeon had calmed my mum down and given the assistent a piece of his mind. It took some time to come to Amsterdam, but mum was glad to see me. The nurse told us, that the doctor had made arrangements to move her to another hospital (in Haarlem, closer to home) . He knew that would make her happy. I could ride along with the ambulance. She is in a 4-person room, but the rooms are much bigger and more pleasant. I helped her to settle down. All in all it had been a very busy and tiring day, so I went home and mum could take a nap.

Yesterday Ron and I visited her in the afternoon. She was a bit gloomy, but I think we talked her out of it. Ron explained again, what the surgeon had said. The situation isn't hopeless. I understand her feelings, but I refuse to give up or let her do that. At the end she felt a bit better. I went downstairs to get us an ice cream. I have given mum my spare mobile phone, so she can call whenever she wants. I have given the number to my sister and brother and my aunt (her sister). In Amsterdam mobile phones weren't allowed but in Haarlem they are.

Today I went to the evening visiting hour. During the day it was very very hot and I can't stand it. This afternoon I had a terrible headache and felt sick. I decided to lie down under the ceiling fan for a while. After a few hours I felt a lot better, so after dinner I drove to Haarlem.
When I arrived the priest from mum's church was there. I had tried to reach him several times and left messages, but hadn't heard anything. It turned out he had a new mobile number, because he is moving to Belgium. He apologized, but I was just glad he showed up. I know mum wanted to see him before he left for his new post. He promised to stay in touch.
Mum told me she had had 2 bleedings today at the end of her chest wound. There was an extravasation that sent off blood to the outside instead of inside. Nothing too serious, it was solved. It showed her why she can't go home yet though. She wants to, but understands she has to recover some more.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Hospital day

Yesterday morning I left for Amsterdam again. When I arrived my mother was on the Special Care Unit. She told me her personal nurse there reminded her of Wonder, so she felt at ease with him at once. We laughed about it. She was very awake and conscious.

We didn't have to wait long before the surgeon came. He told her the bad news without evading, but in a very caring way. As I expected it hit her very hard, it was a huge disappointment. She cried and asked "how long?". But the doc explained that's not the question to ask at all. Okay, this is a major setback, but they don't give (her) up yet! He is going to talk with her cardiologist and lung specialist to see what else can be done. It won't be better, but they can try to hold the situation stable for as long as possible. It is bearable and she can still do things.

There is a ray of hope. When the surgeon had a good look at the heart during the operation he found it to be in better shape than expected. It wasn't that enlarged and the colour was reasonably good. The problems my mum is having seem to be caused mainly by her lungs, so that's where the focus will be at first while monitoring both heart and lungs. Another plus: she is determined to persevere in the non-smoking. We'll do all we can to help her.

All the tubes and other stuff are off, she only has a drip in her arm for medicine and blood samples and sometimes some extra oxygen. She is back in the ward and has a room all to herself. That's what she wanted. While we were moving her there we bumped into Sorcha and Luna, two friends of mine. They had to be in the hospital so they decided to bring mum a little present, an artificial rose with a card. Mum and I both appreciated that very very much! I pinned the rose to the notice board on the wall she looks at, together with a card I sent through the OLVG website.

I have spent the morning and part of the afternoon in the hospital. Ron hadn't seen her yet after the surgery, so we visited together in the evening. I bought her one of the gossip magazines. She really tries to see things positive, I'm so glad she does! Of course she cries from time to time, but I would be worried if she didn't. For the most part she is positive and already wants to go home!
When we returned home a lot of people were calling to hear how mum is. Ron volunteered for telephone service, so I could rest.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


First of all: thanks for all the support, thoughts, candles, etc. I'd love to thank you all personally, but I can't work up the energy right now. Sorry...

This morning around 11am I got a call from the hospital. Much too early (the surgery would last 4 to 6 hours), so I knew something was wrong. It was the surgeon himself. He told me my mother was brought to the ICU. My first thought was: thank god, she's not dead! The surgery started as planned, but didn't continue the way it should have. When the chest was open the surgeon discovered that the aorta was very severely hardened (calcificated). They knew about the hardening itself, but the seriousness would be unknown until the surgery. It was much worse than they anticipated. Technically it was difficult but possible to do a bypass and the valve replacement, but for my mum that wasn't an option. The risks would be unacceptable, sky high. She wouldn't have survived the operation... The surgeon consulted his colleagues, but they were unanimous. The only wise thing to do was stop the surgery and close her chest again, so that's what they did...

I was devastated, but after some phone calls I screwed up my courage and left for Amsterdam. I wanted to be with her, although it would take more time for her to notice me. After all she had gotten anaesthetics for lengthy open heart surgery. Around 3pm she opened her eyes now and then, saw me, smiled and slept on. After a few hours the artificial respiration was going to be turned off. A tense moment, but fortunately her lungs took over and she was breathing on her own. A ray of hope in sad times...

She was awake and talked a bit, but the surgeon considered her not yet conscious enough to tell the bad news. He'll do that tomorrow morning when I'm there. I can call the nurse around 8am to arrange it. I dread the moment, but I want to be with her when she hears about it. I'm afraid it'll hit her hard...

Please keep thinking of her, burning candles, etc.

Saturday, June 03, 2006


Yesterday was a very long and tiring day. We (Ron, mum and I) spent the day in the hospital. A lot of waiting, tests, questions, information, etc. etc. The staff was very nice though and we were taken care of in a wonderful way. The only problem was, that they didn't have any planning for the day. They knew what had to be done, but had no idea what time.
The surgery will take place this Tuesday, June 6th at 8.30am (CET). Please think of her or light a candle. The hospital priest has given mum the blessing for sick people (I don't know how that's called in English) in presence of Joke and me. She felt a bit better afterwards.
When Joke came to visit (she works nearby) we were still waiting for the surgeon and the anaesthetist. Ron and I went home. The car parking total was € 16 (from 8.30am until 4.30pm)! At home I fell asleep on the couch, exhausted and with a headache. After a few hours I felt a lot better and relaxed. It's okay, I wanted to be there for mum. I promised to take better care and think more of myself after this. :-)
This morning I called the ward to ask how mum's first night had been. I won't do that every day, but mum decided not to have a phone next to her bed. The nurse handed her the ward phone so we could talk for a while. She had slept well and sounded relaxed. Good to hear! Ron and I will visit her tonight. Joke and Leo are going this afternoon. My brother has received the key to his new home yesterday, so he's very busy. He called me this morning and will visit mum tomorrow. I coordinate the visits, so there aren't too many people in the hospital at the same time.
I have been to mum's house earlier to water the plants, take care of the mail, etc. Strange to be there without her present.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

The call

This morning the hospital has called my mother. Tomorrow at 9am she must report for admission. I'll go with her and be with her when the doctor and nurses inform her about examinations, surgery etc. Ron will be driving us, because I don't trust myself to be driving yet. I feel better though!