Saturday, January 29, 2011

Viktoriya, My Teacher, My Friend, Last Chapter

It has been a sad and difficult time for the friends and family of Viktoriya Shershnova.  Seeing her suffer in the way that she did the last 20 months after her horrific car crash was more tortuous for her loved ones than for her.  She went from being a vivacious, vibrant, loving mom and famous personality to a shadow of what she was, totally dependent upon the mercies of hopefully kind caretakers at the care facility at which she stayed. 

 I felt so fortunate to have been able to visit her on a regular basis during a portion of that time.  It was a privilege to be able to put her favorite lotion on her arms and legs and put chapstick on her parched lips.  She was able to pay attention and communicate a little bit.  She loved her face rubbed and her hands rubbed.  She would get a sweet peaceful little smile on her face when she was well enough to enjoy it. But she was in lots of discomfort and often communicated that as well by her looks of sadness and pain.
I remember the Christmas of 2009 when I scheduled my singing group, 'Friends And Neighbors', to go and perform their annual Christmas Performance at her care facility.  I had it put on the facility event calender and reserved the main hall and called ahead the day before we came to make sure that Viktoriya was able to be in attendance.  Despite all of that, the day we arrived, they weren't going to bring her out to see the performance because she wasn't ready and they said she didn't have a bed or chair that could accommodate her in the main area.  They were pretty much telling me that we could perform, but Viktoriya wouldn't be there.  
 Now this post isn't about me, but when they told me that Viktoriya wouldn't be coming out, the stubborn Helena welled up in me.  This is the stubborn me that has been through many a hardship and tragedy and has refused to back down and refused to let someone else tell me what I can or can't do, just because they think they can.  I  had 9 very busy women, my own Dad and son with me and here was this floor nurse telling me that we couldn't do what we came to do.  That wasn't happening.  I went throughout the whole facility, talking to every and any person that looked like they had any kind of influence. I also told the staff that we wouldn't be performing until Viktoriya came out and that we were prepared to wait.  And wait we did.  Finally Viktoriya was rolled out after about 30 minutes and we went on with the performance.  It was a special time for me because this was the Christmas present I was able to give her to show her how much I love her.  I will always appreciate the women of 'Friends and Neighbors' for driving the 50 mile round trip and patiently waiting until Viktoriya could listen to us on their busiest of Saturdays to do this for Viktoriya.  They truly showed that neighbors and friends are also the angels among us. 
 The last time I saw her, I felt like I wanted to have a picture taken with her.  It was amazing because she seemed really lucid and content that day.  When I got out the camera, she actually acted like she knew what I was doing and even smiled when the attendant said "1-2-3 smile"! This is my last special memory of Viktoriya. 

On Saturday, January 15th, I got a call from a bellydance friend who told me the sad news.  Viktoriya had passed away on Friday.  Apparently, she had been doing well and then one of the nurses checked on her and she had quit breathing.  They resuscitated her, but she couldn't breathe on her own. She finally quietly passed away.
 The funeral was very simple but well-attended.  Her daughter, Nikol, gave a simple but beautifully heartfelt eulogy about her mother.  Through her tears, she talked about how she had always admired her mom and hoped that someday she could be as beautiful as she was.  She spoke of how her mother had many trials, but always told her and her sister, Jessica, that she wouldn't trade it because she had her two girls.  She told about how every night she would come in and kiss her and tell her that she loved her.  She spoke of the special look she got in her eyes that made her know that she meant it. 
  Another person who spoke was Sarah Brimhall, one of Viktoriya's best friends and who was very close to her daughters, as well.  She had been one of her first students here in Utah.  Viktoriya had taken a special interest in Sarah, like she did so many, and had an open door to her any time she wanted.   Sarah had been with Viktoriya the day before her accident and spoke of how she was literally glowing with good health and happiness.  There is no doubt that she was an extremely beautiful woman on the outside.  But what is even more extraordinary is how beautiful she was on the inside and how much love she had for so many people.  
  I deem myself a fortunate person indeed to have known such a wonderful person as Viktoriya and call her my friend.  We had many heartfelt conversations and had a personal understanding of one another.  I know that her progression is continuing in Heaven and that her understanding is growing by leaps and bounds.  What she couldn't comprehend here on earth, will all be made clear in the world beyond.  Viktoriya's life helped me understand the limitless love our Father in Heaven has for each one of his sons and daughters and the mercy that he has extended us in our individual journeys of progression and knowledge in this life.  It is through his Son, Jesus Christ, that we are able to look with hope and joy toward the life after this one.
 So, Viktoriya, here is my final update on your life and I hope that all who knew you will find peace and know you found rest and joy in the loving arms of those who were waiting to greet you.  God be with you until we meet again!

At the funeral with another one of Viktoriya's dear friends
Some of the flowers at her funeral


scrilla said...

I'm sorry to hear she passed. I know she was a dear friend to you. XOXO

Chastina said...

What a beautiful way to remember her!