Friday, November 4, 2016

My new granddaughter

I am grateful, happy and proud 
to announce the birth of my 
Vilja Marie, 
born on October 22, 2016,
3366 grams and 49 cm.

Vilja Marie is the 5. generation on my maternal side with the name Marie. My paternal grandfather came to Norway from Finland as a young man, and the name Vilja is of finnish origin. The finnish meaning of the name is goodness/kindness and riches; in norwegian the word 'vilje' means willpower. My Finnish grandmother's name was also Maria. There's a lot of ancestry in her name :-)

Monday, February 15, 2016

What if it was easy?

Norsk tekst under bildet.
I'm not saying that life is easy. 
We can't control a lot of what happens to us. 
But we definitely can control how we deal with it. 
We get to choose positivity or negativity, and I'm sure we all know which is better for us. 
We can set our minds to hard or easy. 

My word for 2016 is EASY, 
and I have already experienced that thinking something is easy really works.

But then there are some days when I don't want things to be easy. 
It's like I want and need to feel the struggle.
So, so what if I sometimes choose to stay in the pit for just a little while? To acknowledge my losses, to feel my pain and my grief. 
For me, this is an important part of the process, to know that I'm not sweeping my feelings under an imaginary carpet. 
To face my grief head on. 
Not all the time, but every now and then. 

And then, to tell myself that, "yes, what happened to you is hard, but that doesn't mean your whole life from now on has to be hard." 
And I can tell myself that I get to choose when and what has to be hard or easy. 

And no, this process is neither easy nor automatic. It's a continual recommitment. It's hard work, and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. But for the times when it does work, life gets a little bit easier, and that makes it worth it. 

Jeg sier ikke at livet er lett.
Mye av det som skjer med oss kan vi ikke kontrollere.
Men vi kan kontrollere hvordan vi håndterer det.
Vi kan selv velge mellom å være negative eller positive, og vi vet vel godt hva som er best for oss.
Vi kan bestemme om det skal være vanskelig eller lett.

Mitt ord for 2016 er LETT,
og jeg har allerede sett at å tenke at noe er lett faktisk virker.
(Og la meg presisere at med lett mener jeg ikke lettvint.)

Men så er det noen dager da jeg ikke ønsker at ting skal være lette.
Det er nesten som om jeg ønsker og trenger å føle på kampen.
Så hva gjør det, om jeg av og til velger å bli i avgrunnen en liten stund? For å bekrefte tapene mine, og kjenne på smerten og sorgen.
For meg blir dette en viktig del av prosessen, å vite at jeg ikke feier følelsene mine under det innbilte teppet.
Å stirre sorgen rett i øynene.
Ikke hele tiden, men av og til.

Og så, å si til meg selv, at "ja, det som har skjedd med deg er vanskelig, men det betyr ikke at resten av livet ditt trenger å være vanskelig."
Og jeg kan fortelle meg selv at jeg må velge når og hva som skal være vanskelig eller lett.

Og nei, denne prosessen er hverken lett eller automatisk. Det er hardt arbeid. Av og til funker det, og av og til ikke. Men de gangene det funker, gjør det livet litt lettere, og derfor er det verdt det.

Monday, February 23, 2015

A Rite of Passage - Leon's christening day

Sunday was Leon’s christening day.

A rite of passage is a ceremony that marks the transition from one phase of life to another. This was a celebration of the birth and beginning of life for Leon.

It was an official welcoming to the world, and an introduction into the local community. This tradition is observed in most communities all over the world, irrespective of belief systems. It’s a tradition much older than known religions. It’s a reason for family and friends to come together to celebrate a new life.

Big brother Helmer was King of the Day!

It was a beautiful, but bittersweet day for me since Sigve and Geir Espen were not here to celebrate with us. I know they probably watched and took part from whatever dimension they now exists in, but the pain of missing them is excruciating, and even in the middle of my flock, the loneliness without Sigve is palpable.

The day had dual meaning for me. I am in the middle of my own transition. My status in society, and in my personal life, has changed from being a wife to being a widdow. I am trying to build a life on this new foundation. I am trying to learn how to live without Sigve by my side.  

Monday, February 2, 2015

Until death would part us

We were two individuals.

Rooted, confident, independent.
We kept approaching,
approaching and approaching.
It took many ”first sights”
before love came into the picture,
until eventually that day came
when we allowed ourselves
the luxury of saying
”I love you”

We loved each other.
There was no doubt.
There was no doubt
there was a future for us.
Together, we were so strong.
We were so together.
We were not ”I” and ”I” any more.
It would always be ”us” from now on.
Until death would part us.

Together, and between us,
we created life.
Two beautiful children
sprang from our love.
They flourished and grew
in age and wisdom.
How we loved them!
We kept them close
so they could become
rooted, confident, independent.
How we loved them!
The fruits of our love.

We grew too, in age,
and hopefully in wisdom.
We aged, and planned to
continue to age

Then the unthinkable day came.
we had to start grieving together.
So totally unthinkable.
Death did not yet part you and I,
but death parted us from 
our love son.
So unthinkable and so unbearable.

In the midst of all the unthinkable,
we were still together
to share that unbearable grief.
Together we managed to bear the unbearable
because we reminded eachother that he was loved.
Oh, so loved!

Our remaining love daughter,
with her own sibling grief,
became our rock and support.

Two grandsons joined us.
Even before they arrived
they were the apple of our eyes.
How we loved them,
our prides and joys.

Much too soon,
the next unthinkable day came.
I had to say goodbye to you,
the love of my life 
when death came barging in and said,
your contract is fulfilled,
I have to part you.
Again it was unthinkable and unbearable.
We had planned to grow old together!
But there is no arguing with death.

That afternoon
you drew your last breath,
and then you were on the other side,
where I could not follow.
We, who for 34 years
had been together through thick and thin,
were no longer together.

I am left here - alone.
Our love daughter 
with her own daddy grief,
is still my rock and support.
Oh, how we loved you,
and how I continue to love you!
Our grandsons are still my pride and joy.
How I love them!

But a large part of this grief is only mine.
You will forever remain 
in this torn apart heart of mine.

You, the love of my life.

* * * * * * * * *

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmases past and present

December 23rd is called “Little Christmas Eve” here since we celebrate the evening of the 24th as our Big Christmas (Christmas Day is not that much of a deal over here, we’ve already had our presents).

Sigve and I spent 33 Christmas’es together. First it was just us, then in 1982 Geir Espen joined us, and in 1985 Hilde Marie had also arrived. Over the years we alternated between Kristiansand (with my parents), Bømlo (with Sigve’s parents), by ourselves in Stavanger and later in Bømlo.

Quite early in our young family’s life we decided that we wanted to create our own Christmas traditions, in our own home, marrying each of our traditions. We also decided that it was easier for grown-ups to drive for 4-6 hours than it was for us and 2 kids to do the same. So whoever wanted to come and join us were welcome to do so, and we spent many lovely family Christmas Eves as a nuclear and extended family.

In later years, after our parent had left us, we were back to the four of us. One year it was even just Geir Espen, Sigve and I, when Hilde Marie and Jon Helge spent Christmas Eve with her new in-laws. Other years Hilde Marie joined us if Jon Helge had to work on Christmas Eve. 

Christmas 2011 was the last time that Geir Espen was with us for the holidays. I am so grateful that I have so many photos from those days. Helmer had joined us, and Geir Espen loved being an uncle. Sigve’s cancer was gone, and he was well. Such happy days.

Geir Espen died on July 14, 2012.

Christmas 2012. Our first Christmas without Geir Espen. How do you live through something like that? 
We had already realized that our lives had to go on, and the only way they could go on was in a good way. Nothing, and nothing else made sense.

Christmas 2014.
Facebook keeps telling me that 2014 was a great year for me. What do they know.

Although, in many ways they are right. Sigve and I always enjoyed spending time together. 33+ years of friendship and marriage creates a familiarity, a closeness, a togetherness that settled in our bones.

We moved from Bømlo to Tysnes to be closer to Hilde Marie and her family. We both loved the everyday closeness to Helmer.

Helmer is the grandchild that Sigve was afraid he would never get to meet. Just before Christmas 2009, when he got the leukemia diagnosis, Sigve said that if this was the end, his only regret was that he might not get to be a grandfather.

Then he went through the chemo and the stem cell transplant, and he was ok, and in February 2011 Helmer arrived. They developed an awesomely strong bond.

In January 2014 we learned that a new grandchild was on it’s way. 

In February 2014 Sigve and I went on a 15 day holiday to Malta, a place we had wanted to go back to ever since we spent one day there during a cruise.

We have travelled a lot over the last 15 years.  Our travels were one of Sigve’s main items of gratefulness at his diagnosis in 2009. That we had seized the opportunities that came along. That we had not said, we’ll do it when we retire. We have traveled the world, and we have loved it. Europe, the United States, South America, Asia, Australia, and many cruises. On our own, and with friends. We have loved it. Sigve had not done any travelling when we met. I was already a globetrotter. And he thanked me many times for turning him on to travelling. The one item on our bucket list that we didn’t make was Iceland, but I think he can go there now, any time he wants.

Then on August 28, Leon arrived, 2,5 weeks premature. I don’t believe in a controlling god, but I think this was meant to be. Sigve got to spend time with Leon during his course of chemo. Leon smiled at Sigve, and grabbed his finger tightly. This warmed his heart. I think Sigve knew the road ahead. He told me, this one will be a grandma’s boy.

Sigve died on October 30, 2014.

Christmas 2014. My first Christmas without Sigve. How do I live through it? I have already realized that my life has to go on, and it has to go on in a good way. Nothing, and nothing else makes sense.

Generation follows generation. The newest generation that Sigve loved and I love so much. I will follow up to the best of my ability. At the moment I am crushed, but I know I will prevail.

Shortly after his death, Sigve came to a friend of ours and said, don’t worry about Inger-Marie, she’s tough, she’ll be ok. This comforts me, and I know it’s true, even though it reduces me to tears as I write it.

Sigve, the love of my life, I don’t know how I can live without you, and yet I know that I can.

I’ll love you forever!



In hospital October 2014

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Sigve's final hours....

My beloved husband,
my best friend and soulmate 
for more than 33 years 
born October 14. 1955
died at 2.30 pm on October 30. 2014

These last days have been like a perpetual roller coaster. I still can't believe it.

Here is a recount of what happened: 

This was an acute and aggressive kind of cancer, and treatment started the day after the diagnosis was confirmed, there was no time to wait. The acute stage starts when there are 20% immature cells in the blood stream, Sigve had 59% when it was picked up in a blood test. 

In order to beat the new cancer Sigve was given high dosages of chemo for a week to hopefully kill off the cancer cells.  

In the process it would also knock out his bone marrow and his immune defense system, and then it was supposed to rebuild itself, hopefully cancer free. 

However, he did not get to that stage. While his immune defense system was knocked out, he contracted severe pneumonia and sepsis. 

On Wednesday, Oct. 29, he started having respiratory problems. He was outfitted with an oxygen mask, and was moved to an Intensive Care Unit where they had one on one staff. 

This happened around 2 pm, and he was still sitting up in bed and posting on Facebook. 

The possibility of him having to be on a respirator if things got worse, possibly some time the next morning, was mentioned. But during the next 2 hours his condition deteriorated badly, and he had to be put on the respirator immediately. 

We got to spend a few minutes with him before he was given a full anesthetic and intubated. By then his breathing was very laborious, and he couldn't speak much. When they removed the oxygen mask, his blood oxygen saturation immediately dropped to 60-70 %. 

So we got to say a few words of goodbye, and sadly this became the last time Hilde Marie and I spoke to Sigve, his last conscious moments. 

The sepsis that had set in caused the vein walls to droop, letting blood seep into the surrounding tissue. With a very low platelet count, his body couldn't stop the hemorrhaging. This loss of blood from the veins then caused the blood pressure to drop too.  

The pneumonia made it difficult to get air fully into the lungs, so at one point they decided to turn him over on his stomach, to try to expand the lungs. But when he was turned over, a lot of blood came up, and it turned out the fluid retention in the lungs was actually hemorrhaging. An anesthetics specialist came in and looked into the lungs with a scope, and gave adrenalin directly into the lung. This slowed down and eventually stopped the hemorrhaging.

So the night was spent administering medications to balance blood pressure, oxygen saturation, hemorrhaging and a lot more. Blood tests were taken all the time and he was hooked up to all kinds of equipment to monitor everything that was going on in his body. Porters were running back and forth to the lab, delivering blood for analysis, and bringing back refills of platelets, plasma, antibiotics, anything he needed. His room was full of doctors and nurses all night, and we are confident that everything that could be done was done. 

In the morning things seemed a bit calmer, but he was weakening all the time. We spent the time sitting with him, stroking his skin, talking, to somehow let him know we were there.

At around 1 pm they had to turn him back over on his back again, to try to get some of that same turning effect, and they needed to do an ultrasound scan of his heart. We had to leave the room, and they told us the turn might be too much for him, but it was all they had left to try. 

By now his heart was barely beating, only blood pressure increasing medications were holding up any kind of blood pressure, and his lungs were too damaged to breathe on their own. We were let back in, to sit with him again, to take our time for our final goodbye. 

Then they gradually turned off the medication flow, turned down and eventually turned off the respirator. Within a very few minutes his heart stopped beating, and at 2.30 pm on Thursday, October 30, Sigve was dead.

My darling, the love of my life, my husband for 33 years, was no more. 

24 hours earlier he had been sitting up in bed. It was, and still is just surreal.

I am grateful for having had the honor of being Sigve's wife for 33 years and 3 and a half months.

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