You are currently browsing the monthly archive for March 2008.

When Marisa died, it started a long chain of solitary ‘firsts’.

Our first Christmas without Marisa, the first New Year’s, Jacoba’s birthday, Marisa’s mom and dad’s birthday, and now the start of the baseball season.

Marisa and I love the Blue Jays.  Just last season, Zekijah went to more Blue Jay games than both my parents combined in their whole life.  The Blue Jays had their opening day today against the hated Yankee’s.

The game was rained out.

I thought that was fitting.



I don’t eat ice cream so it is never on the grocery list.

Marisa loved ice cream and when she was still here, she would either buy it or put it on the list.

The kids love ice cream.  But it hasn’t been in the house since Marisa died.

I went grocery shopping with the kids the other day and we walked by the ice cream freezer.

Jacoba looked at all the ice cream and with eyes wide open said,


It made total sense.  She hasn’t seen ice cream in our freezer for 4 months. 

…we now have some ice cream in the freezer.


Much of learning is relatively easy.  That is to say that when one person communicates knowledge to another, most often it is not done at the great expense of the teacher.

Grief is not that way.

When I hear parents tell me that they are better guides for their children because of the situation that Zion, Jacoba, Zekijah and I find ourselves in, I still don’t know how to process that information.  It sometimes doesn’t seem right. 

And sometimes it does.

Sometimes is makes sense.  A young mother of three glorious kids, struggling and dying of cancer.  People should learn from that.  But sometimes I wonder, do they?  Do they really, effectively learn from it?

I hope so.

Because it comes at the great expense of the teachers.


This morning Zion and Jacoba were playing together like angels.

They were playing a game at the table in the kitchen while I was cleaning up from breakfast.  They were involved with the game and chatting about different things.

Then Jacoba asked,

“Zion, do you know what cancer means?” 

Zion replies, “Yes I do.” 

Jacoba said “it means you are dying.”

Zion said, “Jacoba it doesn’t mean you are dying, it means you are dead.”

Jacoba said, “I knew that.”

I looked at them.  They were looking at eachother.  I purposely said nothing. 

I soaked up the beauty in the moment.

Because it was beautiful.  It was two siblings, two friends, two people, two souls grieving with eachother the only way they knew how.  They know that their mom died.  But as important, they know they have eachother.  And when I have doubts of my own inability to shepherd these two glorious children, I take solace in their solidarity.


So Jesus does the unimaginable. 

He knows He is going to die.  He is on the cross, He calls out, but continues on.  He shows the celestial courage to suffer.

Then He rises.  He goes to His friends and tells them to check out His hands.

His hands still show the crucifixion.  But He is perfect.

He shows His scars, His wounds but he is still raised.

and because of that….

Marisa can do the unthinkable.

They tell her she is going to die.  She is riding the dragon of cancer, she calls out, but continues on. 

She shows the celestial courage to suffer.

And now she is perfect.

Her scars tell a story.  A difficult, painful, tiring, heart wrenching, complicated, expensive and wonderful story.

Her story brings tears to my eyes.  Some tears of joy. 

But mostly tears of pain.

Because I’m not perfect…yet.


I wish you a Blessed Easter.


Yep, I turned 34 today.

34 is surely not “old”, but I surely don’t feel “young”.  Let’s say I feel experienced.  And nothing beats experience even if it is suffering.

Zion is such a perceptive kid.  He walked into my room this morning and said “Happy Birthday Heit”.  How cute.

Jacoba drew me four pictures, a “little alien chariot”, a “mountain chariot”, a “dot to dot” and a “dot to dot chariot”.  Beautiful creativity.

And Zekijah was her regular bright self today.

The kids gave me a shirt and a tie.  They picked it out themselves.  The shirt was very ugly.  Aren’t kids supposed to give their dad an ugly shirt?  I think so.

We had a nice lunch out the the family, my parents, and my brother and sister.  It was nice.

But when we got home from lunch, the afternoon came down heavy.  The house was loud and quiet at the same time.

But then my mom came over.  The cloud seemed to lift.  We had a great chat.  We talked about Marisa.  We talked about the future.  We talked about Zion, Jacoba and Zekijah.

There is nothing like a mom to help you feel better.  True that.

Isn’t it insane that Z, J, and lil’ Z don’t have their mom?


The truth is that we don’t think about Marisa all the time.

The days are too busy for that.  Zion needs to learn and read, Jacoba needs to show me her endless amounts of headstands, Zekijah needs to carve her space in the family and I need to focus on them while they do these things.

But when I think about Marisa after a time of not thinking about her, I’m reinjured all over again.  And it is not because of the actual wound but also that I keep thinking about being wounded and that I don’t know what to do with this wound.

Wounds.  The world has wounds.  I have wounds.  So do you.  We all do.

So did Jesus.  And by His wounds, we are healed.

Heal us. 



A few big things are coming up this week, including Good Friday and Easter.

Last year Easter was ‘new’ for us.

This year it will be ‘new’ again for me.

This whole death thing is quite uncomfortable. 

Last night, in Niagara On The Lake,  I sang in a concert of The Crucifixion, a choral meditation on the sacred Passion of Christ.

Some text from one of the pieces of music says, “Help us to pray and watch and mourn…”

Help us pray.  That seems relatively easy.

Help us watch.  That also seems doable.

Help us mourn?  That is tricky.  And noble.


The previous post was more a rhetorical question rather than a real one.

So please let me explain.

1) I don’t think that our children are cursed.

2) That post is a lament.    

Maybe the post was done in haste.  I don’t know.  But it did make a number of people uncomfortable.  It was real, honest and blunt.  It was posted after a particularly difficult time of grief from one of our children.  But please don’t mistake this explaination as an apology.

I KNOW that things will get better different but at this point my grief comes and goes.  And I believe that those who grieve should be given a large allowance to vent.  Sometimes those who are grieving need to hear the gospel.  Sometimes they need to hear the groans.

As CS Lewis writes, “No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear”.
I think Z, J and lil Z are blessed too.  They have a good community.
I don’t think our kids are cursed.  I think it sucks that they have lost something so good in Marisa.



I received a card in the mail today that said that Zion, Jacoba and Zekijah are very blessed to have me as their father.

Let us say that I believe that to be true. 

Are they blessed because I love them?

Are they blessed because I will take care of them and protect them?

Are they blessed because I put their soother back in their mouth at 3:46 A.M.?

Are they blessed because I put my personal life on hold to be with them?

Are they blessed because I play countless games of chess with them?

Are they blessed because I build forts and play tag with them?

Let’s say that is true.

If that is all true, does that mean they are cursed because their mother is dead?



We are experiencing some great weather these days.

Here are a couple of pictures of our children on a toboggan (check out Zekijah’s expression) and Zion’s suggestion of making our family into snowpeople.

Good times amongst….

“Mendelt, I hope you are having a good day and you aren’t sad”.

This was a message I received from someone.

I know what they meant.

But is sad so bad?  I walked down the grocery store and saw something that triggered a Marisa memory.  Then I was sad.  Deeply sad.  I felt like weeping.  In the juice aisle. 

Hey cashier, don’t you know Marisa is dead? 

I walked outside.  I remembered Marisa.

Hey stranger, don’t you know that cancer sucked her body of life?

I went home.  I saw my neighbours talking.  I remembered Marisa.

Hey neighbour, do you know that we put her in a box and buried her in the ground?

I felt like putting on sackcloth and ashes, weeping and gnashing my teeth. 

So why don’t I?

I remembered images of people in other countries.  They walk down main street hand in hand, crying, weeping, singing, chanting.  Are they honouring their grief?

It is clear that I am looking for something that this world will not provide.

Hey Jesus, why does your return seem to take so

excruciatingly long?



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