You are currently browsing the monthly archive for May 2008.

Zekijah Jeannetta Monique VanderVeen Hoekstra

Thanks for all the suggestions and guesses about what lil’ Zed is trying to say.  I think you are all right.  And you all win an opportunity to come over to our house, spend the afternoon with the three kids so I can ride my bike.

I think that she is saying either ‘my dad rules’

or ‘watch out world because I am half Marisa, half Mendelt, all Zekijah, partly influenced by my big bro Zion and my sis Jacoba and I am ready to take you on‘.

And as my mom says, “you go Zekijah, girl power!”


Zion woke up this morning as a 6 year old.  No more counting on only one hand.  He took this picture himself.  He told me this morning that I am his second best friend.  I’ll take it.  Happy birthday buddy.

\'my dad RULES\'

Marisa’s talented sister Christy took this picture of Zekijah at her party.

I thought it was worth sharing.  What do you think she is trying to say?  I’ll give you my answer in a few days. 

Honouring grief is an art.

Please be clear, I don’t claim to have the right answers but I do feel that when it comes of suffering, I “misunderstand a little less completely” (CS Lewis).

I recently went to a party where I met an old aquaintance. He hadn’t seen me since Marisa had died and when he saw me, he immediately told me that I was going to be okay. I found it to be a curiously quick comment but thought that he was right and that I am going to be okay.

An hour later we met up again in another circle of people where the conversation gravitated towards my situation. Again I heard him say that I was going to be okay. And again, he was right. I am going to be okay but I felt it was told to me for not only the second time, but in a dismissive tone.

It happened for the third time about an hour later. He and I were in another conversation with different people when the topic of my situation came up again and he again told me that I was going to be okay and then reminded me publicly that he had told me that already twice.

At this point, more than usual, the filter between my brain and my mouth was nowhere to be found (or heard).

I spoke to him and addressed his comments. I spoke the truth in love. I said that although he is right and we will be okay, when someone tells me that I am going to be okay in a flippant manner, it does not honour how difficult it is. When it is said so quickly and with nearly no taste of lament, it means very little. When it is said with a sense of ‘lets move the conversation along’, it doesn’t honour how difficult grieving is and how difficult it is to lose. And how difficult and lonely it is to find the road back to ‘okay’.

And I am not looking for pity because I don’t need pity. But sometimes people who are grieving need lament. Lament and pity are two very different things.

I understand that he was uncomfortable. I get that. And I understand that people say things because they are uncomfortable with being uncomfortable. I am often a victim of that emotion.

And I understand that he didn’t mean to be hurtful.

But that doesn’t mean he wasn’t.

angle 1)

Did it really happen? Did Marisa really get cancer? Did She really die? Isn’t She just coming back? Is She really, really dead? On December 6 did I really have to come home to a 5,3 and 1 year old to tell them that their Mom died? Did I really take that understandable punch in the face from Zion? Is it possible that I am able to shepherd three children by myself? Is this a joke? Is this a nightmare? Do I really go to sleep every night by myself?

Angle 2)

Did I really marry an angel that produced three more? Did Jacoba really say to me that she is going to be a joker when she grows up? Did Zion really eat his vegetables at someone else’s house without a big drama? Did Zekijah really call my name, my name, from her crib to comfort her? Do I really get to beam with pride when someone asks the girls who did their hair?

At the end of the day, life is beautiful or ugly.  It depends from what angle you look.  Sometimes I have those frightening, crazy ‘how did I get here’ moments but those are fairly easily redirected when I look at the kids and our situation from another angle.

Last night before the kids went to bed, we all sat in Zion’s bed and read a great book “What Dad’s can’t do” (It’s not what you might think, it sings the goodness of fathers).  After the book was done, all three kids were lying on my chest and we sang a song.  In four part harmony.  Not neccesarily the clean Ionian mode that many of us are familiar with, but still harmony.

After the song, we had a group hug and I was shown something from the angle I was seeing,

My whole world fits in my arms.

Jacoba has been wearing her uniform for 4 days straight.  She put it on the day we got it and has worn it day and night since then.  Even when she got ready for church, she put on her uniform.

Then the first soccer practice came.  It was cold. 9 degrees.  And windy.  Very windy.

It was tough for even the toughest.  And Jacoba had a tough time.  She participated in one of the drills and then decided to practice her crying.  I felt so bad for her.  Thankfully my friend Floyd took Jacoba into the car and they practiced flipping pennies.

On the ride home, Jacoba asked me if there was soccer next week.  I told her yes.  Then she said,

“is it summer next week?”

The Maple Dips!

Zion and Jacoba are on the same soccer team this year.  I am the coach.  Our team name is Maple Dip.  It should be a blast.  This is Jacoba’s first year and Zion has played before so I think he will watch out for his sister this year.  It will be fun to watch.

Go Maple Dip!

Mothers Day.

A day for moms.  For Mothers. 

I think that today will be just like the past 158 days.  Celebrating Marisa.  We have had 158 Mothers Days in a row.  Today will just be number 159.

Happy Mothers Day to all.

Zekijah turns 2 on Sunday.

Yep, I wrote Sunday.  Mother’s Day.  A couple of stories.

1) For those that don’t know, before Marisa gave birth to Zekijah, She had a miscarriage.  That means that if things had gone the way we wanted and thought they would, we would not have ever met Zekijah.  Now looking at her gorgeous face, I can’t imagine anyone else.  Life, I love you.

2) If you know Zekijah, you know that she speaks more at 2 than many 3 year olds.  She did this early on.  There was one time when Marisa handed her a book and Zekijah, who was just over 1, said to Marisa, “thank you Mommy”.  It was as clear as can be.

Marisa turned to me and said.  Thank you Jesus, for giving her so many words so that I can enjoy her now.

Zekijah, you are tough and gorgeous.  Just like your Mom.




This morning Jacoba and I were upstairs getting dressed while Zion and Zekijah were downstairs.

When I came downstairs, Zion came up to me and asked me if he could karate chop me on the head.  I said ‘okay’.  He proceeded to do it.  Then I asked him why he did that.

He said, “I just did that hard of a chop on Zekijah’s head too and she didn’t cry.”

I asked him why he did that on Zekijah’s head.

He said, “I was just checking how tough she is”.

Zion, she’s half Marisa.  No wonder she is tough.


I just spent 3 days with 37 high schoolers on a choir tour.  It was a great experience.  We had some great times singing, learning and exploring how to be better people.

For the bad press that teenagers sometimes get, they can be amazing people.

Our tour culminated with participating in a High School Music Festival in Toronto with 8 other schools.  At the evening concert, each school presented two songs individually and then also some selections sung with all schools together (350 students).

After I directed them in our individual pieces, we left the stage and I was flooded with the grief of missing Marisa. 

It was another death in what I call a journey of 1000 deaths.

But we sounded so celestial that I am sure She must have heard us.

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