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Before Marisa and I were dating I saw her at a party. The song that was playing was ‘You can call me Al’. If you know that song, you know how many words are in the song and that the words are clever and quick.

I watched Marisa and she knew every single word of the whole song. Each one. And perfectly in time. I was amazed.

That was so sexy to me.

Paul Simon also wrote a song called ‘Graceland’ which says,

“losing love is like a window in your heart everybody sees you’re blown apart, everybody sees the wind blow.”

…sure is breezy in here.


So here we go.  Our first Christmas “without” Marisa.

Make no mistake about it.  It sucks.  It hurts.

Not the getting of cards that say “Mendelt, Zion, Jacoba and Zekijah”, but that they have to say that.

Setting the table for 4 instead of 5. 

Returning Marisa’s present.

Sleeping in our bed.

That salvation, grace and eternal life mean very little to a five year old when his Mom isn’t coming back.

But the hurt eases when I think of how proud I am of Marisa. 

And the hurt eases when we celebrate that Jesus came as a baby for people like Marisa.  And the hurt eases because shoots come from stumps.  And the stump that we are living right now is bound to grow a shoot.  That is the promise that Zion, Jacoba, Zekijah and I have.

(see, it sucks that it’s only the 4 of us)

My eternal thanks for being a part of this ride.  I wish you a blessed Christmas.


Mendelt and the angel      Psalm 91:11
I’ve only told this story to my family and a few close friends, but am compelled to tell it to you (the blog family) at this time.
Soon after Mendelt was born, I began experiencing a premonition I never had before with my other five children. I knew it was not post partum depression, it was much deeper than that and very real. There was an unexplained sense that I would lose this son of mine at a very young age. It worried and sometimes really frightened me. No matter how hard I prayed and tried to push away these feelings, the uneasiness stayed with me until Mendelt was about one and a half years old.
It was early summer, a beautiful day and Mendelt and I were playing on the front lawn. We lived on a circle lot with a lawn that sloped down to the road. Suddenly Mendelt started to run towards the road and to my horror I saw a car coming fast around the corner. I knew without a doubt that he was going to be hit, he was running too fast, the car was speeding and I could not catch up to him. I froze in utter fear and cried out “God”. And then Mendelt stopped on the curb so abruptly, it was unnatural and no child could have done this himself.
I did not see the angel, but I knew that God’s hand had held him back.
I often wondered what it meant, this miracle. Had God changed His mind to spare his life? What plans did He have for Mendelt? I think I now know.
A few years ago I told this story to Marisa. She listened intently, smiled wide and said “Amazing”.
Amazing Grace
Love and peace from Mem Hoekstra

Tomorrow will mark one year since Marisa was diagnosed with cancer. 

Marisa and I often spoke about what a party it would be on December 20,2007 when she had beaten cancer.

I’m praying that Jesus will come back tonight.  Literally.

Then I won’t have to face tomorrow.


Today I received a letter in the mail.  It was from a lovely woman named Carolyn.  I don’t know her very well, but well enough for her to send me a letter.  I’d like to quote from the letter.

The letter said,

Mendelt, I do not know what you are going through.  However, your experience makes me so much more aware of what I have…I hug my kids a little longer before they go to bed, or on the bus, I do not take for granted having a loving husband to help me raise our two boys, and am so much more aware of the little things in life that I usually take for granted.

I pray those never fade or become dull or routine.”

Marisa would have been proud to read these words.  This is what she wanted.  She wrote it in her posts.  She told her friends.  This is one of the things she hoped people would learn from this.

And Marisa did not take things for granted.  She wasn’t one to let things fade or become routine.  It has only been a week since we buried her, but it seems in many ways longer.

I miss her a great deal.

And thank you Carolyn for those words.  It made me proud for Marisa.



When Marisa was with us in body, it used to bother Zion that him and I were outnumber by the girls 3-2. 

This morning the four of us came downstairs for breakfast.  Zion said to me, “with mommy gone, there are now the same amount of boys and girls in our family.

Zion, that was just like your mom, finding the good in things.  Thank you.


one of my former students asked me in a private e-mail if I was scared.

Am I scared? 

Absolutely.  But maybe not of things you may have thought of.

I am not scared about the amount of work that lies ahead of me.  Marisa and I said before we had Zion that we were planning on having less sleep and more work.  It was true.  And we did okay.  I plan on that now too.

I am not scared of feeling far away from Jesus.  We have a good relationship.

I am not scared about helping the kids deal with their grief.  I will find people more experienced than me to help me with that.

I am scared about things like walking into our house every day without Marisa.

I am scared about when Jacoba gets her first period and I have to read the instructions on the box of maxi pads.

I am scared about what my children eat.  I am scared about people giving them candy to deal with their own grief.

I am scared about yet someone else coming up to me and telling me that I am going to have a difficult year ahead.  Don’t you think I know that already?

So am I scared?  Absolutely.  Do I think I will be okay?  Absolutely. 

I just don’t know when that will be.


There surely is a void in this house these days.

The kids are accepting things are their pace, it’ll be a while.

Thank you to everyone that came to the service.  For those that weren’t there, it was a packed house.  And then some.  Maybe one day I’ll post some of the things said at the service.

Thank you for all your support.  And all your prayers.  It is much needed.

Love Mendelt

Vanderveen, Marisa Alison (November 8,1974)


On December 6, 2007 Marisa’s cancer was taken away by Jesus. 


Marisa was happily married to Mendelt Hoekstra for almost 10 years. 


She is the beloved mother of our children, Zion, Jacoba and Zekijah.


Marisa is the daughter of Chris and Ann VanderVeen, the sister to Monica and Greg Vandertuin and sister to Christy VanderVeen.


Marisa is the daughter-in-law to Gerzinus and Jeannetta Hoekstra and sister-in-law to Frances and James Olson, John and Henri Hoekstra, Monique Hoekstra and Alec Home-Douglas, Jacoba and Peter Doris and Klaas and Tanya Hoekstra.


Marisa is the favourite aunt of 15 nieces and nephews.


Marisa wanted those who loved her to know how much she appreciated all the many saints who surrounded her over the past 33 years. 


Marisa does not have cancer anymore. 


Shine on Marisa, shine on.


Visitation will be Friday 7-9p.m., Saturday 3-5p.m. and 7-9 p.m. at Fruitland Christian Reformed Church.  (


A memorial donation can be made to a trust fund for our children Zion, Jacoba and Zekijah.

Please visit for more details.


Many have asked about the trust fund that has been set up for our children Zion (5), Jacoba (3), and Zekijah (1).

Instead of flowers of gifts, you may donate to this fund.  You may do so by sending a cheque to Tallman Funeral Home in Vineland (905.562.5454) or at any Meridian Credit Union account number 6787600.

This money can be directed in any of these names:

Zion Hoekstra, Jacoba Hoekstra, Zekijah Hoekstra or Mendelt Hoekstra.

This money will go into one fund and that will help bless the kids down the road.

Thank you (Zion), thank you (Jacoba), thank you (Zekijah).


Marisa will be laid in the ground on Monday, December 10 at 9:30. This will be done at Lane’s Cemetary which is in St. Ann’s.

She will be right next to three young trees.

To get to the cemetery from the QEW you would take Victoria Avenue cut off, go south towards Vineland. Go up the escarpment and you will find Regional Road 69. Turn right on RR 69. That road will wind and hill for about 5-8 minutes and Lane’s Cemetery will be on your right.

From the QEW it would be about 15-20 minutes driving to the cemetery. You are all invited and then we will go on from the interment to the church in Grimsby.



…shine on Marisa, shine on.

Late this morning, December 6, Marisa took her last earthly breaths in my arms.

She went to a mansion.  With many rooms.  Probably pianos.

Visitation is going to be at Fruitland CRC ( on Friday night 7-9 and Saturday 3-5 and 7-9.

We will bury Marisa Monday at 9:30 and the celebration service for Marisa will be on Monday at 11 at the Mountainview Grimsby Christian Reformed church.  More details to follow.

Don’t be sad for Marisa.  She doesn’t have cancer anymore.

Shine on Marisa, shine on.


waiting for death is difficult

–I hate to do this on the blog, but the word about Marisa is getting out through other various means and I feel this is the best way to let you know what is going on–

On Monday night, Marisa got quite sick.  She is now in the hospital, in Hamilton and she is resting peacefully but it is clear that heaven is near.

Please do not come to the hospital.  I don’t like having to write that, but Marisa is surrounded by her family now and this is what she wanted to happen.

Also, please do not speak to our kids about this.  I will do that myself.  But please pray for them.  Zion, Jacoba and Zekijah.

Thank you for everything you have meant to Marisa.

I love you,


Without getting too technical, Marisa has had to have a ‘tap’ implanted in her abdomen.  This is the result of the fluid buildup in her abdomen.  This ‘tap’ (called a pigtail), which is semi permanent, allows excess fluid to drain out of her body instead of staying inside which was making Marisa very uncomfortable.

This has left Marisa quite tired and in pain.

I can’t tell you the joy and appreciation that Marisa gets from your comments.  They are like medicine.  Marisa said that she had forgotten half of the stories so those were a good reminder.  Thanks.

Thank you for all your cards, comments, prayers and love.   Please keep loving.


Sara Pot in one of her comments said that she liked hearing other stories/memories about Marisa.  Good suggestion.

Here is one I’ll not forget.

If you know or have met Marisa, you may think that she is quiet.  While sometimes that is true, she is never shy.  Quiet sometimes but never shy.

Also if you know Marisa, you will know that she is quite the athlete.  She has played softball for many years and has a very accurate and quick throw.  She is also very cerebral when she plays.  No one out thinks Marisa.

So here is the story…

Marisa is a big Blue Jays fan and once her and I went to see a Jays-Yankees game.  In front of us was a loud, annoying Yankees fan.  (is there any other type of Yankees fan?)  Then at one point in the game, this Yankees fan yelled at one of the Blue Jays players and said,


Marisa calmly got the attention of that fan and said to him,

“Would you like to have a throwing contest with me?”

Wisely, this fan decided not to take Marisa up on her offer and was much more quiet for the rest of the game.

Marisa smiled.  I was aroused.  Come to think of it, I think that game was about 9 months before we met our firstborn, Zion.


Please know that your comments are helpful.  Marisa wanted to hear them today so I read them all to her. 

I just wanted to acknowledge you.  Thank you.


Shine On DVD

This DVD is of a concert put on by Marisa's family that raised funds for a yearly scholarship in Marisa's name.

Donate Now to receive a DVD