Thursday, December 31, 2009

Moving on

Tomorrow is the start of another year. 2010. A new decade really.
I have been wondering what this year will hold. I have many things that I would like to do, but I'm not planning really, plans are hopeless anyway. We know life can change in a moment. Its more things I wouldn't mind getting around to should I find the time.

What I most want, however, I can't have. I can't plan.
I want this grief to stop. I want to feel better and be better company. That said, I think this year in some ways is going to be harder than the last. Sure, I have learned or adapted to living this life. I now know that I am capable of far more than I ever gave myself credit for. I am far more aware of God's grace and his powerful hand carrying me through.

What is flooring me though is this need/expectation that I should move on. That given that the "firsts" are nearly over that I will wake one morning and feel better.

I don't. I don't feel any better. I feel more lonely, more scared and I ache to have Jouke back. I long to know again what it feels like to fall asleep in his arms or to hear his laugh. I long for the feeling that everything is right in my world and it kills me that I may never again. I long for my kids to have 2 parents.

So, yes I want to "move on", and shake some of this grief, but I don't want to loose him again. I don't want to cut him from my life and I don't want another in his place.

I want Jouke.

That's what I want most.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


It was a Wednesday 8 years ago when we started our married life together. A Wednesday because he wouldn't make a decision and to get a reaction I choose that day. He didn't mind. Wednesday it was.

It was a warm day.
I remember the people and the flowers and the hair. A hive of activity, until the moment that I saw him waiting at the end of the aisle. It all stopped. There he was, nervous, but calmly waiting. Stunningly handsome. I don't remember if we spoke to each other during the ceremony, only that he helped me hold the flowers that were getting heavy. I remember how he smelled that day. I remember how, unlike usual, his face was shaved smooth.

We were so young. He was just 25 and I not yet 21.
Babies. We were so sure we had found the perfect life partner. I still believe the same.

Wednesday 19 December 2001: Two becomes one.

Wednesday 4 March 2009: I am left ripped in half.


I hate Wednesday.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Riding Away

I have listed Jouke's bike on eBay.

If all goes well buy Sunday night is should be sold. Its tearing me up inside. This beat up, 13 year old, beast is one of Jouke's most treasured possessions. He loved it. Much time and money was spend tinkering and looking at this machine. Riding it through the state forest or just around the block brought him immense joy. The smile on his wind blown face told me that this was one of the things that made him feel alive.

But it has to go. The first real thing that I am letting go of. I feel so guilty. I'm doing it for the money.

I remember about 3 years back when I was frantically de-cluttering, I made the fatal error of giving some of his things away without his consent. They were carved wooden animals that we had bought on a trip to South Africa, after we both promised to not spend any money. On returning to the car we sheepishly admitted to each other that we both couldn't say no and had both ended up buying the beautiful, but ultimately, useless objects out of pity for the sellers.

So when I decided to give them away, I honestly didn't think that it would be an issue. I was wrong. He was so mad and I still remember him say something about 'don't every give away my stuff'. Afterward we laughed about it but at the time, my usually mild mannered husband, was really upset.

So you see my problem. I can still see his smile behind his helmet, can still smell the petrol fumes on his clothes, can still hear the roar of the engine. And I can still she how mad he was about those silly statues.

Then to add insult to injury, people have been emailing with ridiculous offers. Some up to a third less than the starting bid. How rude! Had they known the gravity of this sale and the importance of this bike, they would not dare, they wouldn't even suggest it.

Letting go. Its just stuff. Just metal and rubber and plastic. It feels like I am loosing him again.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Today I am falling, tumbling, spiraling toward that really dark, dark grief place. Grief is constant, always there, part of who I am. I don't like it, yet is seems like my one tangible link to the loss of a great man. Take it away and you remove some of me, some of our love. Knowing and marrying Jouke changed me and now loosing him has changed me again.

But that really dark grief I hate. The place where I struggle to function. I can do little more than take care of my children's basic needs. They know it and become needy and demanding in an attempt to bring me back. I see it, I know what is going on. I can't change it.
In that place I relive it all. I feel what I try so hard to run away from. I ache and cry and feel trapped in my own skin. My greatest enemy is my own thoughts and I struggle to turn them off or even down. The lump in the back of my throat that I constantly have to swallow past, threatens to, at any moment, reduce me to a ball of tears.

Not today, I pray. But the train is approaching with phenomenal speed. It cannot be stopped.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


During our whole marriage Jouke and I made nearly every decision together. Even small things like going out to friends for dinner was usually something that I would run past him before giving the final answer. He was a very easy going guy and as a rule was relatively unfussed about most things, but I still wanted to respect him and give him a say.

So, that leaves me at a very strange place. Every decision is now mine and I have nobody to use as a sounding board or co-decider. Now small decisions have become significant. Things like whether to send a mildly ill child on a play-date or which pair of shoes to buy or which way is faster home. All these things drive me nuts. There are no "right" answers only better ones for right now. That leaves a lot of room for self-doubt.

What about making bigger, more important decisions? Schools, money, housing, work, the list goes on. I am lost and confused and sadly rather easily led by anyone sounding like they know more than me. At the moment I am looking at upgrading the family car. We need more room to allow other people to better help me out with care for the children. But which one?? I have looked at everything on the market and cannot decide. Which one is most reliable, affordable and safest? Everyone I ask has got a different opinion.

The issue really though is not the decision itself, but that I am deciding all on my own. I hate it. I want to be able to talk to Jouke about the small stuff and sweat together about the big stuff. I don't want to have to carry this burden alone. I didn't sign up for this.

I miss him everyday, but never more than when I need an arm around me telling me that everything will be OK.

Saturday, November 7, 2009


My sister got married 3 weeks ago. The wedding was to be held 1200km away and given that I have 3 kids driving the distance was the only option. I was terrified. Weeks I planned and worried and layed awake. I don't like driving and have never driven more than 200km on my own before. That was Jouke's job. He liked it and was good at it. That is just the way it worked.
I didn't know how the kids would handle the trip and how I was going to stay focused on the road and make sure they were OK.

I was terrified of the wedding, too. Terrified of taking that one photo that I didn't want to take. Terrified of seeing the start of a marriage when mine has just ended. Of remembering the days leading up to my own wedding. Terrified of the first time all the family would be together since the funeral. Turns out I had reason to be scared as it was a really hard day. I will tell more about that later.

Other things scared me too. Packing the car, planning the route, staying in motels, the list goes on.

But what scared me most by far was the nearly 24 hours that I had to stare at the road. It is the time when the images of Jouke's passing fill the lens of my minds eye and I have to fight hard just to see through them, to see the road. I am left defenseless and unable to turn them off or to turn the sound down. Scenes I would rather forget (like the police at my house) play slowly, clearly and loudly and at times I cannot see the road.

A dear friend prayed specifically for God to take these way. He answered. Mostly I was focused and my mind relatively quiet. Traveling was hard work. The entire trip was hard work. But God was faithful. He kept us safe, he kept me sane. He showed me his strength in my weakness and taught me that I am capable of far more than I imagined.

I am proud of me and the kids. Proud that even when it is hard, when we felt like quitting we pushed on. I hope that Jouke would be too.

Friday, September 25, 2009

He knows

About a week after Jouke passed my little man asked that I pray with him for Jesus to come and live in his heart. WOW! what a moment. At 4 he had made a personal relationship with Jesus. Jouke wanted so badly for his kids to know Jesus and he would be so delighted to know that Tiaan gave his life.

That said, I have been wondering how real a little boys' conversion could be. Does he understand? These things have been plaguing me, until this weekend.

We were driving to some friends' house for dinner and a some country song, about the war, was playing on the radio. Something in the song, about men giving their lives for others, got Tiaan's attention.
He said: "That's like Jesus".
"How?" I asked.
"You know how He had to die on the cross for our sins so that we can live forever, like that".


And then he continues, "Its like how Pappa had to die once and now he can live forever, with Jesus."

Big WOW!

What a comfort to know that Tiaan understands. He gets the magnitude of God's grace and he understands that life for believers does not end, rather we are blessed with eternity, in heaven, with God.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Through all this I have learned who my true friends are. They are the ones that can look at me, broken and shattered and love me anyway. They are the ones that let me feel this, they don't try to take it away from me, they know they can't, but they feel it with me. They loved Jouke and miss him, too. They talk about him. They cry with me.

I heard this song a few weeks ago and it speaks of just what I am writing about now.

Thanks for those who are willing to share the dark. I love you!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Today I miss Jouke. Its not just that I am grieving for him, I miss him here. I desperately want him home, want to see his half-smile, to hear his laugh.

There are moments when I think that I can do this, play this game. I am strong, I tell myself. God has a bigger dream for me.
But then the reality of death, of permanance, of forever, creeps in and a wave of understanding hits me so hard I feel myself being swept of my feet.

How? Why?

I wonder about crazy things like what actually happened in Mudgee. Dread that Jouke was alone when he died. Hate that I didn't get to say goodbye.
It all feels so detached. I wasn't there, I didn't see, yet I am living it and it all doesn't make sense.

I am tired of this. Tired of feeling this low and pretending this hard that I am coping. Tired of life that keeps on keeping on. I don't want to move on.
Don't you see that my husband is dead and that EVERYTHING is different?
I don't care about petty things, that your coffee is cold and your shoe broken, don't you know that my Jouke is gone? Don't you see that those things don't matter?

I try to feel different, try to say busy. The problem is that were I go, there I am and Jouke is not. I can't shake this, can't run from it and can't get around it.


I heard the kids talking about love this morning.

"What is love?" I asked.
"When people hug", said Tiaan.
Anja replied: "Pappa. Pappa and Jesus".

They know more than I give them credit for.

Monday, September 14, 2009


One of Jouke's best mates is around this afternoon helping me with some things around the yard. Turns out some things I just can' t do, no matter how hard I try. Starting the whipper-snipper is one of them. I pulled until my arm ached but no luck. I am so grateful for his help.

While he was out there I ran a cup of tea out to him. Suddenly I missed Jouke so. I miss the noises in the shed and the sounds of him around the yard. I miss the smell of his clothes as he comes home from a bike ride - fuel and dirt and sweat. I miss his tools around the place and the many things he took care of that I simply do not know how to do.

Mostly I miss conversation with him. I'm a talker, he a listener. I miss not having anyone to have meaningless conversation with about all the little things that matter.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

At work for his Master

Jouke was a great worker. He wasn't lazy, he was willing and wanted to please. More than that he was capable and talented. There was little he put his hands to that he didn't do well.
It is that which I love about him that made him a wonderful employee. It was the same that made him a wonderful husband and father. Things got done, things got done well and because he was physically strong he could do things easily that others struggled with. I was told many stories about his physical strength and great work ethic in the days following his death. In a way it makes his death at work a bigger tragedy.
The day before he had to leave to go to Mudgee he told me many times that he didn't want to go, he also told a friend. But because of his ethic, his standards, he wouldn't listen to my pleas to not go and just pretend to be sick. For once I wished he did listen.

One of his good mates send me this only a few days after the accident:

There are two ways in which a workman regards his work: as his own, or as his Master’s. If it is his own, then to leave it in his prime is a catastrophe, if not a cruel and unfathomable wrong.
But if it is his master’s, one looks not backwards, but before, putting down the well-worn tools without a sigh and expecting elsewhere better work to do.”
Henry Drummond. 1851 – 1897

Jouke belonged to his Master. Everyday, in all he did, his attitude and humility spoke of this. His ministry was not one of words but action. He wondered everyday if he was doing enough to let people know about Jesus, to tell them the good news. I believe so.

And now that he is no longer here to tell, God is still being glorified. There was well over 300 people at his funeral where God's truth was boldly shared. The members of our church have worked tirelessly to make sure that we are cared for and this is speaking volumes of God's love in action. People have told me that they have seriously reevaluated their lives, some even quitting time consuming jobs so they can spend more time with their families.

His work for his master is continuing. What a wonderful legacy!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

6 months

That long already? I know its not technically the 4th but Wednesday is just a tough day. Couple that with father's day on Sunday and it is proving to be a really hard week. I hate it. I hate that anniversaries matters. Hate that I have survived for 6 months without him here.

So how I am really doing? Everybody wants to know. Not everybody can handle knowing the truth. I often answer "Doing as best as we can, thanks". Another woman on a similar path as me wrote in her blog:

I suspect that being near me is like looking into the sun. It hurts. You can't look directly at it for too long. Watching my pain must be painful for others. I don't envy them. It is hard for everyone, and those who are near me are especially brave.

So how are we really doing?

* Anja is struggling hugely. She has regressed in many areas of her development. She is back in nappies, she needs help dressing & eating and has become quiet and withdrawn. She hasn't got the language abilities to put into words her pain or even her memories. She is coping as best as she can, but I worry about her.

* Tiaan is such a beautiful boy. He was very close to Jouke and is having trouble accepting that this is real. He is asking lots of hard questions. I hate that his little head is worrying about such big things. He asked me the other day if I had got a chance to say goodbye to pappa. He is worrying about me. Worrying that I didn't get to say goodbye. My heart breaks for him.

* Alani has lived a 3rd of her live without a daddy. A 3rd! That makes me cry.
Two mornings ago she climbed out of bed and ran around the house calling "Pappa! Pappa!" How is that? She was only 12 months old the last time he was home, but she knows he is missing. It just shows you that we are made with the need to have a father figure in our lives.

* I am broken on the inside. I am changed. Hardened. I have built a wall around me, not really letting people close, not really letting anything out. I function because I have to. I try not to think about it. Really though, I am sad. Just so sad. And sick of being sad.
I am struggling hugely with knowing who I am without him. What to cook for dinner, what type of shampoo to buy, what to wear. All the thousand decisions we make everyday I made with him in mind. I don't even know what I like without him. I am trying to work it out.

So yeah, this is tough. I wouldn't wish this on anybody. But, I am coming to understand God's grace in a way that I never have. I am starting to see that life is not about what I want but more about how God is shaping me for his glory. I am seeing God's love practically through his people everyday. I am anxiously waiting for heaven - it is so real!
And a hope is growing in my heart, that through all this we will come out the other side. God is not done with us yet. He wouldn't leave me like this.

Friday, August 28, 2009

5pm comes everyday.

Today we had a good day. The sun was out and it was rather lovely outside. The kids played in the sand and on the swings whilst I hung washing on the line. We played on the floor and read some books and for the most part everything felt normal.

Suddenly my mood changed. It wasn't conscience, I didn't want it too, but I knew without looking at the clock that it must be nearly 5 o'clock. 4:51pm. My body knew. The normality of the day fooled me into thinking that in about 10 minutes he would be home.

For a moment I forgot. How? How do you forget something so profound? Why is it that I just cannot fully wrap my head around death? I just don't understand.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Single Mum

I hate that term. I hate being called single and couple that with mum, which by definition implies there should be a dad, it leaves me feeling sick in the stomach. Love it or loath it though, that is what I am. I hate it.

Grieve aside this parenting 3 babies all on my own is insane. Even when we have no major emotional issues to deal with the days are long and hard. Take today as an example.

I was woken at 6:30am (after only falling asleep a mere 5.5 hours before) and while I tried to ignore the calls for breakfast, by 7:15am I was standing in the kitchen with 3 breakfast bowls lined up. Following breakfast we spend a quiet morning at home with me only getting out of my PJ's at about 10:30am. Let me however define 'quiet': cleaned up kitchen, dressed kids, changed 2 smelly nappies, broke up 3 fights, put a load of laundry on, checked emails, payed some bills and made 3 coffees. By 11 we were all dressed and I spend about an hour with the kids doing some pre-kindy workbooks and building puzzles.
Following lunch we watched a little TV and then I found it...head lice!! Anja with the worlds curliest hair had some crawly things on her head and they were not welcome. So I spend 2 hours carefully removing any hints of insects before setting of to town to buy a few groceries and of course head lice lotion (For the record, this is surely one of the worlds most degrading and embarrassing moments).
Once home I lathered the kids' hair, combed and searched, stripped bedding and remade beds. Dinner was ordinary, but the kids are in bed with full tummies.

I am done, tired and ready for bed. But I still have laundry to fold, school bags to pack and a truck load to toys to put away.

I will get to that, I will, really. Just as soon as I have this cup of tea.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Reality hits

This grieving thing is strange. In the weeks following the accident I often thought that instead of feeling all the emotions one would imagine feeling when your husband dies, I was feeling nothing. No, not nothing, but not anything like I imagined one would. The funeral was difficult, but in the hours that followed I felt weirdly relieved. Days would pass without any tears and while I constantly thought about Jouke and my loss I was able to completely distance myself from the reality, the gravity of the truth.

There were moments that things got rough. 5pm on a Wednesday still is one of the most difficult hours of the week - the day and time of the accident. Going to bed is difficult. I remember about 4 days after the accident having a panic attack because I couldn't figure out how to get into bed, alone. Seeing his work ute (isn't still driving around town) or any electricians working makes me anxious.

The last 3 weeks however, all the emotions I imagined one would feel in a situation like this has come to the surface. Instead of coming at specific, predictable times they now hang around constantly. I am sad all the time. I am feeling the loss constantly. I started crying. Today I was on my way to work and had trouble stopping. Tears are streaming down my face as I order a coffee (an attempt to calm myself) and I am sure the girl behind the counter was very uncomfortable.

Talking to others who know grief this seems to be normal. Shock has worn off, reality has set in. I expected it, but I am completely taken by surprise. I am trying hard not to fight it. Trying to just feel. Hoping that by facing all this head on, that I might come through quicker. I don't expect that I will ever "get over" this. I am changed forever. I'm just hoping for a better week.

Blog title

I was thinking about changing my blog name tonight. As you may have noticed I have changed everything else as I am feeling the need to make things different, to somehow signal this gigantic change that has happened in our lives.

But no, I'm not going to. Because mamma made it: through today, this minute, this week, the last 5 months. I am surviving. I am figuring out a way to make it through. Mamma made it. Slowly. Carefullly. Somehow I will make it through. Not because I am strong, but because Christ is strong. He is carrying me. And because of my babies.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Our days

It is nearly 6 months since we last saw Jouke. Its hard to believe. It only feels like yesterday, but then it also feels like a lifetime ago.
So much has changed. I have moved furniture around in the house and added some new pieces. My bed was the first to be moved. I turned it to face the other wall and added new bedding. It is still not easy to go to bed alone, but at least now it feels a little different, a little more possible. I moved the blue lounge out of the front room. It holds too many memories and at least now we can use that room again.

Our days are very different too. In order to cope we are keeping busy. Staying home all day is just too hard so I make sure that we go somewhere at least once a day. Our days are filled with people and while it can be exhausting I really don't know how else to cope right now.

I suppose though the biggest change is in our faces. We smile less. I try, for the kids' sake, but its just too hard some days. Our eyes are different too. My own eyes I hardly recognise and those of my children scare me sometimes.

Anja was very sad yesterday. When I asked her what was wrong she said that she missed me. "I miss you, I miss you and pappa." It breaks my heart. No kid should have to deal with that. I pray that in months to come I will be able to be more available to my children. Pray with me.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Seeing Australia

When Jouke and I first got married we had a dream to travel around Australia on a motorbike. He wanted a BMW enduro bike and I was only happy if the bike had arm rests and a radio.
We talked about our plans often - the places we wanted to see, the things we had to do.
Babies delayed our plans some.
No motorbikes we knew of could fit a capsule. When we fell pregnant with Alani, our 3rd baby in 3.5 years, I was 26. He quickly reminded me that by the time I was 47 she would be 20 and then we would go and see this country with the wind in our grey/ailing hair.
I am sad that will never come to be.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Reading back through my blog tonight I was a little shocked to see that one of the last posts prior to Jouke's accident was with my favourite photo of us. Just a few months ago all was normal and I was happy. Completely content. I was married to a wonderful man and all was going to right.

It only took a moment and all changed. I haven't told his story yet, its painful to put it in words, but that Wednesday night when the police knocked on my door will be edged into my memory forever. Not so much what they said, I don't even remember what they looked like, but that feeling of horror. I knew even before they said a word and I begged them to leave, begged them not to say a word. Jouke was an electrician and while working out of town he accidentally touched a live wire. No body saw exactly what happened, but most likely it was all over in an instant.

I wish there was words to explain to you the sort of man he was. Right now it is difficult for me to remember him fully - the pain is too raw. But I do know that he was wonderful. He had his flaws, things that drove me mad, but I loved him completely and I know he loved me. Mostly I remember his presence. Quiet, unintruding, yet filling the room. He was strong and sure and I felt so safe with him around. He loved to play. He played with the kids and with me and always looked for the fun in any situation. Those are the things we are missing most - safety and joy - those he brought to our lives everyday.

The ache, the gaint space, he has left in our lives is difficult to live with. Somedays breathing is hard. Looking in my kids' eyes and seeing their pain and answering their questions - hard, somedays hardly bearable. I know we will make it through, but I honestly do not know how.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Grief and Hope

There are no words. Just emptiness, sadness and confusion. Grief is real and it is cruel. You think that you have found a way to cope and before you know it you are overwhelmed again. I hope to one day share some of the glimpses of beauty in all this darkness, but right now I don't know how.

All I can say is that God is good. He has carried us thus far and will continue to do so. I don't understand, but I have hope, eternal, strong assuring hope that this is not the end. Jouke is with his Lord and maker, we are carried daily in His hands and one day in God timing and through his grace we will be together again.

This missing is hard.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

A profound loss

This week, for reasons that I cannot know, Jesus took Jouke to be with Him. My husband, partner, lover and friend - the father to my beautiful children. I do not know why or how and I will probably never know. All I know is he is with Jesus in a better place and we will forever miss him. I love him so.