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.