Thursday, February 25, 2010


"When we win lotto..."

We used to dream and wonder what it would be like to be rich. Jouke had dreams of helping his family, going on fantastic camping (huh?) holidays and making sure we owned our own home. His dreams seem small, but to us they were huge. I mean, imagine owning your own home! Being debt free! Imagine...

We never once bought a lotto ticket.

Yet here I am knowing that, in a matter of weeks, I will own our house. I will be debt free.

Instead of being elated and relieved, it feels awful. I don't feel rich. I would give it all back in heartbeat. I would trade EVERYTHING for just another moment. For a chance to say goodbye.

Riches, it turns out, has got nothing to do with money. Riches, wealth, is not material. It's not stuff.

Instead, it is a house filled with laughter and fun.
It is being surrounded by people and noise and banter.
It is the dimple in a boy's cheek that makes him look exactly like his pappa.
It is chubby arms wrapped around your neck and warm snuggles early in the morning.
It is the sure knowledge and certain hope of eternity.

It is hearing a muffled "I love you" in your ear just as you are about to fall asleep.
It is the gentle rhythm of his heartbeat and his breath on your cheek.

Monday, February 22, 2010


It is 8:30pm. I am covered in grass, hot and sweaty. I just finished moving the lawn, but I ran out of fuel as the sun set, so for today I am done.

This makes me mad.

Not mowing the lawn, but needing to mow it late, after the kids are in bed and having to stop because I can't go get more fuel while the kids are in bed. Not to mention - I can't see where I am going anymore.

Today the burden of responsibility feels to heavy to carry. I am 28. 28! What 28 year old carries this weight of responsibility? How is it that at this age when most people are just settling down for the first time or are busily climbing the corporate ladder, I am left dealing with all this?

I love my kids. I do. Everyday they are the reason I get up and function. They are the reason I want to "get better". I will not want to trade them - EVER. But some days this is too hard. Caring for them while they grieve.
Caring for them full stop.
I knew before I became a parent that this job is hard work. I knew it was a long time commitment. I thought it would be a job shared. Thought that I would have a fall-back.

Last night I had a really horrible dream. Horrible and all day I have been followed by it. And then tonight I realised that I NEED A BREAK!!

I do breakfast every morning, I care for the house, I care for the dogs, I care for the yard, I feed everyone, I clean everything, and every night I tuck 3 little bodies into bed. Then, instead of the reward of a job well done I am then faced with a long lonely night until sleep finally comes. Sleep, my only break. Unless I dream like I did last night, and then I get no rest ALL DAY LONG!

I need to find a pause button somewhere. I want to stop the ride and get off. I want to for just a few moments not have to carry this load, do all these things. I want to shake the responsibility.

I am just. so. TIRED!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Half your life

My baby will be 2 tomorrow. Last night we had a little party for her. Nothing huge, more just something to mark the day.

Today I can't stop thinking that she has now spend half her life without knowing her Pappa.

She is such a happy little girl. Obsessed by puppies and crazy about soft toys, she is always laughing and playing and brings me much joy.
The 8 months following Jouke's death she wasn't doing so well. She was hard work, she was clingy and impossible to deal with. But one day, almost overnight, she started to sleep better and cry less and wasn't scared of people anymore. For now she is doing ok and, for now, I think she has dealt with her grief.

This (I know it sounds weird), makes me sad. Sad that she now has no idea what it is like to have a Pappa. Sad that she touched a man's face the other day and was freaked out by the stubble. Sad that she will grieve one day for someone she does not know.

Beautiful Alani, Jesus gave you to me because he knew that I would need you as much as you need me. You are such a ray of sunshine. The gleam in your eyes and the speed with which you get around will forever remind me about your wonderful Pappa. You were given his energy and lust for life and adventure and he would have just loved getting into mischief with you. We love you honey. Have a wonderful day!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Pappa in the sky

So far I have been talking mainly about how I am dealing with grief. Strange as it may sound, its the easy option. By far easier than talking about how my kids are fairing. The sadness in their eyes, their tears and their questions are tough. As a mother we are programmed to fix our children's pain. Band-aids, kisses and cuddles - these are our tools. Love is what I have been given. Tonight it doesn't feel like enough.

"When Pappa come down from the sky...."

This is how Anja's questions start. I gently remind her every time that he wouldn't be coming down from the sky, he can't come back. She refuses to believe. Its normal for a 3 year old not to understand the permanence of death, but its cruel. Cruel that she lives in hope not realizing that her hope, her dream, can never be true.

She sobbed on Tuesday night "I want Pappa back!!". I cried with her, for her.
"Jesus isn't real", she said, "you just say He is to make me feel better."
I sat there stunned. I thought we adults had the corner on doubt. I was wrong. We talked, I asked more questions and explained again about heaven, about Jesus.
"Then I want to go to heaven. When can I go?" Again, stunned. I had no answers. I still don't have any.

I remember the week following Jouke's death. I slept on the floor in their bedroom as I wanted to be near them and because I just couldn't sleep in our bed. One night Anja, then only 2, asks me to bring her a bucket. Thinking she is sick, I run. When I get back, she takes the bucket and tries to make herself be sick. After a while she hands the bucket back. "Are you ok? Do you feel sick?", I ask. "I just want to get this yucky out", she says "just want this yucky out."

How I wish I can do that for them. How I wish that I could take the yucky out and make it all better.
Problem is, death is the one un-fixable in life.

Saturday, February 6, 2010


When Jouke first died I was completely overwhelmed with questions of "Why?". A million different questions ran through my mind, but by far the question I asked most was "why now?". He was only 32, I was only 27 and our kids were (are) still only babies.


Its a question that will drive you mad. There is no answer, there is no knowing.

It has now nearly been a year. 12 months, 365 days. A life time ago and yet only yesterday. Our grief is still raw, he tears are still close and we are still learning exactly how to do this without the one person that kept it all together. That said, I feel as though we have learned a little. Some growth has taken place and while I still really HATE this situation, there are times when there are moments of acceptance.

One of the things that I am coming to see is God's powerful hand and events leading up to his death. Things that happened that meant we were able to say goodbye and have no feelings of regret. I thought I might outline some of those below.

* Jouke and I met and married very young. Were were young but we were given nearly a decade fulled with joy and adventures.

* We always wanted 4 children. Two within 2 years then a 4 year gap and then 2 again. It didn't exactly work out that way. Alani joined our family about 3 years too soon (on our timetable) and because we had 3 children in 3 years time, we felt our family was complete.
Now I see that God knew what an immense blessing that little girl would be to us and what a huge role she is playing in my healing. He also kindly took away the feeling that we 'should have'. Not our timing, but His perfect hand for the good of his people.

* When Anja was 7 months old we spend about a month living with a friend who had lost his wife in a horrible car accident. We needed a place to stay and he needed the company. It worked out well. Now I see the lessons I learned about grief, widowhood, loneliness and pain. Never before had I ever confronted any of these emotions, but because of the time spend with Ian I was able to recognize them in me. They are horrible, but they are not completely unknown. I am ever thankful to our friend who not only taught us much, but who continues to be a wonderful supportive friend.

* Jouke worked a flexi-week. 4 days on and 3 days off. Because of this we often went on weekend breaks and very rarely used his annual leave. At one point he had so many weeks saved that his boss told him to take two weeks off, or else.
So this time last year we went on a 10 day camping holiday. It was fun and the time we spend as a family, and with some wonderful friends, will forever be treasured memories. When we returned we used the last few days of his leave to renovate the laundry and lay some new flooring. The night of the 3rd of March we finished. The last shelf was up and we headed to bed. That is my last memory of Jouke.
Now I see that those weeks were a gift. Precious, precious time together. Wonderful memories. And I now live in a house that Jouke had made practical and livable. His work is everywhere I look, a memory in every corner of this house.

* The Sunday night before his accident, Jouke suddenly dropped his paintbrush and headed for the computer. Confused, he told me that something was wrong with his family and he needed to speak to them. He was worried, something felt wrong. Via Skype he spoke to his parents, his siblings and some friends. By the time he was finished he felt silly, because everybody was well. Now I see that he was given an opportunity to say goodbye. One last chance to tell them he loved them.

There are many more such things that happened in the months and weeks leading up to his death. People we met, that have been amazing support for me through this past year; financial decisions we made that have helped us survive; buying our house and managing to get in front to help cushion the blow for me later and being part of a church that takes their call to support the widow and the fatherless very seriously.

For all these things I am thankful. Not my timing, but God's timing.