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Shortly after Marisa died I read and heard that though my grief was very raw then, it would somehow lessen.

I didn’t believe them then.  I couldn’t then.

I have had a while to think about that notion.  I still don’t believe it, or at least how it was explained to me then.  I don’t believe that it lessens, I just believe that I am more experienced and know how and what to take from a pocket of grief.

Yesterday I was leading a Music Therapy session and one of the individuals in the session asked for the song “Amazing Grace”.  I started playing the introduction to the song.  A different individual started weeping. 

I counselled her and found out that “Amazing Grace” was one of her father’s favourite songs.  “And he is dead now”, she said.   I grieved for her.  I grieved for me.  I grieved for Zion, Jacoba and Zekijah.  But I didn’t weep or cry.  I probably would have cried had that have happened a year ago.  But that doesn’t mean that I wasn’t deeply sad because I was.  I was deeply sad.  Deeply, deeply sad.

We sang the song.  With all our hearts.  It was a perfect example of Music Therapy.

But I was still sad.  It wasn’t less sad than before, just different sad.  Because I have learned over the past couple years how to take what I need from that moment of grief. 

I just don’t know yet what to do with it everytime.


The DVD’s of the benefit concert for Marisa are now available.  The DVD is of my extended family singing and playing in October 2008 to raise money for a scholarship in Marisa’s name.  The highlight of the DVD is Zion, 6 and Jacoba, 4 at the time, signing “The Hiccup Song”.  In my humble opinion, that song itself is worth the donation.

I am not going to suggest an amount of donation because I think you can choose that on your own.

This is how I would like to do this. 

This week I will set up a place on this site where you can donate money and I will send you a DVD.  The proceeds will go to the Juravinski Cancer Centre, the place that Marisa had her chemotherapy.  More about the Juravinski Cancer Centre later.



When Jacoba was asked how old she is, she said, “a full hand”.

A full hand.  Or a hand full.  Either one.

We had a relatively great day.  I managed to pop into Jacoba’s class with my guitar and serenade the newest ‘hand full’.  I think she liked it.  She was proud of me.  I am clear that one day that may be altered, but for now she adores me.  It feels good.

Today is Jacoba’s 5th birthday.  Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day.  Monday is our provinces holiday “Family Day”.

And we are planning and executing parties.

Make no mistake about it.  It is great  (Jacoba thanked me for coming and singing in her class).  And it is terrible (we were seated at the restaurant tonight beside a young couple with children the same genders and ages and ZJZ).  We are living testimony that not only can joy and pain co-exist, it is neccesary for growth that they do



(Zekijah’s 2 year old party)


Today is Jacoba’s last day to be 4.  Ever.

This will be her second birthday without Marisa.  That is 40% of her birthdays.  Sadly, that percentage will only increase.

So we will make party celebrations.  There will be cake.  There will be friends.  There will be hot dogs (Jacoba’s choice).  There will be presents.  There will be hugs and kisses.  There will be cake with cream (Jacoba’s choice).  There will be friends.  There will be siblings (Jacoba’s choice…phew).  There will be games.  And there will be moms.  Not my favourite mom, but moms nonetheless.

And there will be a dad.  Who will be proud of his new 5 year old. 

And that dad will think of Jacoba’s bellybutton; the living connection to Marisa.

When people talk to me about Marisa, many of them speak of heaven.

I have consciously not said much about my views on heaven for various reasons but I listen curiously about what others have to say about it.

I had thought I had heard all the versions out there  until today.

I work for an organization, Bethesda, that supports adults with special needs.

Today I encountered an old friend who has lived at Bethesda for a long time.  We have known each other for more than 1.5 decades. 

He came up to me today.

He said, “Mendelt, is your wife dead?”

I said, “Yes, Marisa is dead”.

He asked if She was in heaven.

I said, “Yes, I believe She is in heaven”.

He said, “You know who else is in heaven with your wife?”

—-I thought, here comes a sad moment for me.  Here comes a story of a loved one, maybe his mom or dad, aunt, uncle or maybe even a brother or sister.  Here comes one of those holy moments where two bereaved people look to each other for a piece of healing.  I braced myself, looked him in the eye and was ready to console him.

I said, “tell me, who is in heaven with Marisa”.

He looked at me, smiled and said, “Elvis”.

My oldest sister Frances, a wonderful mother of 5,  had an old beat up van that had a beautiful sticker on the back.

The sticker was a picture of the earth with beautiful writing, “PEACE ON EARTH”.

Frances told me that every time she drove that van she would say, “Peace on earth…” and then she would add “…and in this van”.

“Peace on earth and in this van”.  I love it.

Today for the first time Jacoba put on her own seatbelt. 

We are getting closer to peace…


For sad reasons I had to explain to the children this week that a married couple close to them and loved by them have decided to separate.

We spoke during supper.

I explained to the kids that sometimes when people get married, they don’t get along so they don’t stay together.

Zion said “that doesn’t make sense”.

I tried another angle.  I said that sometimes when people are together and they fight then they go away from eachother and need to live in different houses.

“Heit”, Zion said, “that doesn’t make sense”.

I thought to myself try another example so that he will understand.

I explained another angle. 

Sometimes when a mom and a dad can’t get along and can’t live together without fighting and arguing they decide that it is better for them to separate and not see each other anymore.

Zion was getting annoyed.  He clearly explained to me that whatever my explaination of separation was, it wouldn’t make sense to him.  So he repeated.

“It doesn’t make sense”.

I was quiet for a moment.  He looked at me.  I thought to myself,

No wonder he thinks this doesn’t make sense.  He thinks that when people are living, married and they haven’t died from cancer then of course they should stay together.  That makes sense to him. 

I knew I wasn’t going to convince him to understand that it makes sense.  Because to me, it doesn’t make sense either.

But he was looking at me.  He was waiting for an answer. I said,

“You are right Zion, it doesn’t make sense”.

He went to reach for his milk.  Just before he took a sip, he looked over his cup at me and said, “I told you that already”.

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