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Application forms are tricky things.

I am filing one out for a membership of a tennis club.  Reading the application form shows a number of different options.  I could sign up as a single adult membership or as a family.

The form defines family as two (2) adults with children.



Zion has some new terrain in his face.  Check it out.

Big Zed's first tooth

Big Zed's first tooth

And the redefining goes for each of our children.

And I guess that is what Jacoba is doing when she shuts down in the mall, when she tells people that there is an extra seat, when she gets tired and calls out “mommy”, when she has nightmares and cries out Marisa’s name.

She is redefining herself in her new world. 

I guess that is what Zion is doing when a random kid falls down on the playground and he runs over to pick the kid up, when he goes to the bathroom to get a bandage for Zekijah’s scrape, when he runs to me every morning for a hug.

He is redefining himself in his new world.

While it is one of the more important relationships that is being redefined, the one with Marisa’s family is not the only one that needs to be redefined.

The fact is, all my relationships need to be redefined.

I have a new role with Zion.  With Jacoba.  With Zekijah.  I need to redefine my role within my own brothers and sisters.  I am a new Mendelt.  There is a tangible distinction between pre-cancer and post-cancer Mendelt.  They are two different people.  The old Mendelt died with Marisa.

I have a new role with my basketball buddies.  With my neighbours.  With the kind people in our church.  With the gracious people that leave comments on this blog.  With the employees at the local grocery store, the bank, the hardware store, the bike store.  Everywhere I go, my role with people has to be redefined. 

I even have to redefine the role that I see myself in this world.  What should/can a 34 year old, father of three, recently widowed do to further the Kingdom? 

Which brings me to the most important role that has to be redefined.  My role with Jesus. 

And this is difficult.  Redefining roles is not easy.  It is not easy because there is love and hope and death involved.  There are promises involved.  That is hard stuff.  That stuff forces perspective. 

That stuff changes people.

Not for one minute do I worry about the relationship that I have with Marisa’s family.  Marisa’s wisdom shines through those decisions. 

And that wisdom can redefine all.

If you remember that the postponement of the Toronto Blue Jays season opener was, in my humble opinion, fitting, then you will understand this also.

The Family Reunion today was postponed.  Thanks for the kind comments.  You are gracious to me.


On Saturday, Zion, Jacoba, Zekijah and I will be travelling to a family reunion for Marisa’s extended family.

When I started dating Marisa, I had to carve my space into Her family.

When Marisa and I were married, I had to again figure out what place I had in the VanderVeen family.

And now that Marisa has died, I have to redefine my role.

And the fact is, that is difficult.  It is difficult to know what my place is in terms of birthdays, Christmas, reunions, and Sunday afternoon visits.  It is easy to say to just go to all the events.  It is easy to say, just go with the feel or flow. 

Frankly, being with Marisa’s family is not easy.  I should rephrase that. 

Being with Marisa’s family without Marisa is not easy.

Don’t get me wrong here, Marisa’s family are wonderful people but is difficult because each time it is another shocking reminder that Marisa isn’t here.  It is difficult because Marisa’s wisdom is missed.  It is difficult because sometimes we just don’t know what to say. 

So on Saturday we will go.  We will go to see the family.  We will shake hands and hug.  The blog readers, if brave, will kiss me.  We will reunite with uncles and aunts.  And I, most likely we, will grieve.

But we will go.  We will pack in the van, drive a couple of hours and do our best.  And at the end of it, by doing it, we will honour Marisa.


My brother John and his family of 6 is over here vacationing from British Columbia.  We were discussing how we can transport all of us and how many vehicles we needed.

Jacoba, like always, was listening.  She matter of factly declared, “My mom died, so there is an extra seat beside my dad that someone can sit in.”



We just came back from spending a few days up north at a beautiful cottage.  It was a 3 hour drive and we left our house in the evening so that the kids could sleep on the ride.  All three children fell asleep quickly after we left and 2 hours into the drive, Zekijah (2 years old) woke up.

She said to me,

“Heit, is Zion sleeping?”  I said ‘yes’.  She said,

 “okay.  Is Jacoba sleeping?” I said ‘yes’.  She said,

“okay.  Are you sleeping?”  I said ‘no, darling, I am driving’.  She said,

“okay. That is good”.  Then she promptly fell back asleep.

I like having a 2 year old supervisor.

Before I went to the wedding last Saturday, I was looking forward to hearing the vows that Bas and Hinke would commit to eachother.  Since I had just privately celebrated what would have been Marisa and my 10 year anniversary and had found our vows and studied them, I was interested in hearing what they had to say to eachother.

They were beautiful and their words hit me.  Among other things, they said that they would be with, support, and love eachother until the hour of their death.

The hour of your death.

When they said that, I both grieved and celebrated. 

I greived because I know what that means.  I grieved because I sadly know what that means.  I grieved because I wasn’t like the couple that have been married for 55 years and don’t know what that means.

I celebrated because people, like Hinke and Bas, still say these things to eachother.  And even though they don’t know what it means right now, they still say it.  And they promise this.  And there are people that prove in 2008 that saying things like this can come true.  That we can really do it.  We can be with eachother until the hour of their death. 

That we can be with, support and love eachother until the hour of their death…and beyond.

I have returned from The Netherlands.  We had a great time.  Here are a few pictures.

Mendelt, Bas (the groom), Klaas

Met Pake

Klaas, our Pake (grandfather) who is 92 and still sharp, Mendelt

what beauties

Bas and Hinke coming out of the kapel (chapel).

crazy cousins

Cousins Erik, Mendelt, Bas, Klaas and Hedzer.

the crazy canucks

Klaas and I made and sang a song for Bas and Hinke.  I think they enjoyed it.






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