fairness doesn’t seem to belong here
a heart doesn’t beat unchanged
lungs don’t breathe air parallelly
a body doesn’t survive equally
body cells don’t divide unvaryingly
a baby crib’s country doesn’t count evenly
no, fairness doesn’t seem to belong here
sometimes the spirits have other plans
and care for us differently in ways
we cannot comprehend.
Why is it that some of us have so much on their plates? Not in the sense of work or activities. No, I mean too much as in loss, pain and grief.
Every now and then this question grabs me and words as “it’s so unfair” always end up rolling off my tongue. Last Thursday morning I said these words again. I opened my mailbox and I scrolled down the bullshit information (most of it). Since three months or so I receive a daily newsletter of a Dutch newspaper which is kind of strange as I’ve never subscribed to it. Anyway, I don’t always take a further look, but that morning I did. My eyes stopped when I read the headline and I decided to open the article. I was able to read it as it wasn’t hidden behind a paid wall. Yes, it was about her. His sister he was so proud and fond of.
I read that she died at the age of 37, Paulien van Deutekom, the former Dutch world champion all round speed skating. She left behind a 1-year-old little daughter and husband, her family and friends after she suffered from cancer.
For quite some years I lived together with her brother in a student home in Rotterdam. I remember he said how disciplined she was, always moving, training, cycling. Living a healthy life. Working hard. On top of that she had such a sweet heart. I met her a couple of times in our student home years ago. Her brother was so proud of her. Unfortunately over the years I lost contact with him, but I was able to send him a message which he replied the other day. What can you say to someone who experiences such a painful loss? I mentioned it’s so unfair to lose her at such a young age, just like I felt it. This unfairness lingers in my head.
We woke up
I talked with my partner about it and he always seems to look at death differently than I do. More from a distance. I’m sucked into it and almost can feel the pain of those who experience a heavy loss. I feel sadness when I hear news like that. I imagine the broken hearts. But I also feel it hits me like somebody pinches me and I tell myself “thank God I’m alive”. Dorus and I, we woke up this morning. My mother woke up this morning. My sister. My brother. Dorus’s dad in New Zealand. His brothers and sisters. Their partners woke up. Our friends. We all woke up this morning. Nobody is ill.
People like Paulien, they lived their life as all which they experienced had to be squeezed in a short time. Therefore it was an intense life. Maybe to another person it would held a complete lifetime. They truly lived. In their short, but lives well lived my partner sees a certain consolation. Yes, it’s a beautiful thought, yet for a parent or brother we can’t imagine how it must be to live with this cruel reality.
My sister turned 50 last Friday. I wasn’t there, but in thought I was and automatically I went back to March 2015 when a doctor said she possibly had metastatic cancer. I took the first plane to be with her and my family. In that time we were torn between hope and fear. I will never forget how thankful I was my sister wasn’t severely ill, but would be able to become healthy again. In the end she recovered from her illness. My old roommate’s sister didn’t.
Cherish what you have
It’s a fact, we can’t control everything in life. However, as the words which a friend wrote to me say: what we do control is how we cherish what we have and to make the right decisions for ourselves, with love and without regrets. It’s true. It’s powerful.