“A few days after my second husband Luke passed away, I picked up my 5-year-old daughter from a friend. I didn’t dare believe I would ever enjoy it again. But on the way home, my daughter started to happily skip it. Suddenly I thought it could be that simple. To be sad, but also to get through life. That’s when I realized I also had to learn to let these things coexist in order to go on with my life. I had to. For myself and my children.
Our daughter was all blue
I have lost two children and two partners in my life. Some said after the thousandth death: “Maybe it has become normal for you.” But grief, mourning, and loss are the worst thing over and over again, you’ll never get used to. The first hit came when I was 25 years old. My husband, Geert Jan, was the first to give us a son, then a daughter. She was six months old when my husband suddenly screamed when I got her out of bed. The sound was passing through the marrow and bone. “It’s all blue,” he said. “She has to go to the hospital!” In a panic, I headed over to our baby boy to find an important six-month-old. I immediately saw that the hospital no longer made sense.
They thought I was an overprotective mother
I cried every day. But most of all, I remember thinking I should stay strong. I had another baby to take care of! Geert Jean needed a rock for that. He carried with him the worst shock of finding our daughter. Moving to a new neighborhood will give us a fresh start. After our first son and deceased daughter, we had three more children and were happy. But fear and guilt kept haunting me. In the weeks before our daughter passed away, I had gone to the doctor countless times because she cried so much and she barely had a bowel movement. The doctors thought I was an overprotective mother. But what would have happened if I hadn’t let myself get away?
Waking up next to a dead man
When Geert Jan had a pain in his chest and was tired, we went to the doctor again. So far, it is assumed that there is nothing wrong. Fatigue, stress and hyperventilation. Heart attacks were ignored in Geert Jan’s family. Friday evening I begged the doctor for an examination. When he called the next morning to schedule a follow-up appointment, it was already too late. That morning I woke up to Geert Jean’s alarm. what the hell? I thought, why not turn it off? I wanted to push him, but when I turned around, I saw that his body was covered in blue dots. He died a long time ago.
Then I found out I was pregnant
Anger, injustice, sadness, guilt, inferiority. It was too big to allow. Just like that time before, I entered survival mode. I had four kids to take care of! Then it turned out I was pregnant, four weeks after Geert Jan’s death. Oddly enough, this was not at all scary: I still carried a piece of my great love with me. I shook off the grief, until the next blow came after 20 weeks of pregnancy. “If this child ever survives to birth, he will be born as a greenhouse plant,” the doctor told me during the examination. I thought it would be fine to have bars on the windows, when I stared outside, or I’ll just jump in now. A few days later I came home to a furnished children’s room with an empty stomach.
Angry people kicked me out
It pushed anyone who tried to get close…friends, family, neighbours. When Geert Jan and our first child died, they did so much for us. Babysitting, fetching food, my neighbor would come to our house every night because she suspected I found the evenings quiet and difficult. it was right. Sometimes I thought: Will you ever come home again? But then I’m glad I didn’t have to go through that period on my own. Now I feel guilty. I couldn’t ask for more from my surroundings. People kicked me out in anger.
new love but then…
Loek, a friend I knew through the media, was the only one who, despite my disapproval, continued to visit me daily. He was the only one who dared to attack me and break through my wall. What he saw was a devastated woman who gave the outside world the appearance that everything was going well. Inside, I was alone, sad and scared. Afraid of losing someone again. Especially when I developed feelings for Loek. I never wanted to feel the pain I felt after the loss of Change January. With that, I let Luke get closer little by little. I could never give myself up like I did with Gert Jean, but a year later we got into a relationship and a few years later we got married and had two kids.
Loek has given me confidence that life is still okay. But – you almost guessed it – he got sick. Especially tired. And when high inflammatory values were found in his blood in 2019, it was already too late. Staphylococcus bacteria were in her grip. In a week he lost 20 kilos and less than a week later, after ten years of love, he breathed his last. He was only 62 years old.
I can talk about it very well now, but such a thing is incomprehensible. Again I kept working on autopilot and keeping the family going, but I hardly slept. I was at work a shadow of myself. However, I didn’t think quitting was an option. I wasn’t dead, were I sick? It was the company doctor in November who opened my eyes by saying, “Nicole, how long do you think you can go on with this?”
I’ve been home for a few months now and can say for the first time that I’ve found myself again. I cried, grieved, and slept. But the scars I’ve left on my plate over the years are always there. I often think that things cannot go well for long. It takes time before I dare trust that luck is on my side for once.
Practice having fun
I practice it. That day when I saw my daughter skipping, I realized I had to actively try to stay positive or else I would die. My children carry me through life. Without them I would have long ago escaped to a place where no one knew me, or I would not have been there anymore. Plus, every day I decided to consciously think about the little things that are nice. Because even though they were sometimes hard to find out of all the sadness, there was always something beautiful to think about. That the food was good, or the sun was shining, or that time my daughter said, “Mom, it’s really not bad to live with you alone.” They are little boosters I give myself when I’m sad, sometimes multiple times a day.
Sometimes I feel like I have to answer to the fact that I have a new relationship and plans for the future. But I must not forget that I can enjoy myself, that I can go on with my life. It’s the one thing that has kept me going in recent years: keep going and keep enjoying all the beautiful things I still have.”