“A few days after my second husband Loek’s death, I picked up my 5-year-old daughter from a friend. I hardly dared to believe that I would ever be able to enjoy it again. But on the way home, my daughter started skipping happy. That’s how simple it can be, I suddenly thought. To be sad, but also to jump through life. It was at that point that I realized that I, too, needed to learn to let those things exist side by side in order to move on with my life. I had to. For myself and for my children.
Our daughter was completely blue
In my life I have lost two children and two partners. “It may have become normal for you,” some said after the inevitable death. But grief, sorrow and loss are time and time again the worst thing there is, you never get used to it. The first blow came when I was 25 years old. My husband Gert Jan and I first had a son, then a daughter. She was six months old when my husband suddenly screamed as he got her out of bed. The sound went through marrow and bones. “She’s all blue,” he said. “She’s going to the hospital!” In a panic, I stormed over to our baby to find a lifeless six-month-old baby. I immediately saw that the hospital no longer made sense.
They thought I was an overprotective mother
I cried every day. But most of all, I remember thinking I was going to stay strong. I had another child to take care of! Gert Jan needed another stone for that. He carried the worst trauma with him because he found our daughter. Moving to a new neighborhood would give us a fresh start. After our first son and deceased daughter, we had three more children and were happy. But the fear and guilt continued to haunt me. In the weeks before our daughter’s death, I had been to the doctor countless times because she was crying a lot and barely had a bowel movement. The doctors thought I was an overprotective mother. But what would have happened if I had not let myself be sent away?
Waking up next to a dead man
When Gert Jan got a sore chest and was tired, we went to the doctor again. Even now, there was reportedly nothing wrong. Fatigue, stress, hyperventilation. The heart attacks in Gert Jan’s family were ignored. Friday night I asked the doctor for an examination. When he called back the next morning for a follow-up appointment, it was already too late. That morning I woke up to Gert Jan’s alarm clock. What the hell is this? I thought, why does he not turn it off? I wanted to give him a push, but when I turned around, I saw that his body was covered in blue dots. He was long dead.
And then I found out I was pregnant
Anger, injustice, sadness, guilt, lack. It was too big to allow. Like back then, I went into survival mode. I had four kids to take care of! And then I turned out to be pregnant, four weeks after Gert Jan’s death. Oddly enough, it was not scary at all: I still carried a piece of my great love with me. It took the edge off the grief until the next blow came after 20 weeks of pregnancy. “If this baby survives at all until birth, it will be born as a greenhouse plant,” the doctor told me during a check-up. It’s good there are bars for the windows, I thought as I stared out, otherwise I would jump right now. A few days later I came home to a furnished baby room with an empty stomach.
Beaten people of me anger
I pushed away everyone who was trying to get close … Friends, family, neighbors. When Gert Jan passed away and our first child, they had done so much for us. Babysitter, brought food, my neighbor had even come home to us every night because she suspected I found the evenings quiet and difficult. That was right. Sometimes I thought: will she ever come home again? But afterwards, I’m glad I did not have to go through that period alone. Now I felt guilty. I could not ask for more from my surroundings. I kicked people angry at me.
A new love, but then …
Loek, a friend I knew through the media, was the only one who, despite my rejections, continued to visit me daily. He was the only one who dared to go against me and break through my wall. What he saw was a broken woman who gave the outside world the impression that everything was going well. Inside, I was alone, sad and scared. Afraid of losing someone again. Especially when I got feelings for Loek. I would never feel the pain I felt after the loss of Gert Jan. Still, I let Loek get closer little by little. I was never able to give myself as I did with Gert Jan, but after a year we got into a relationship and a few years later we got married and had two children.
Loek gave me confidence that life would still be okay. But – you almost guessed it – he got sick. Tired, especially. And when high inflammatory values were found in his blood in 2019, it was already too late. The Staph bacterium had him in its grip. In one week he lost 20 kilos and less than a week later, after ten years of love, he breathed. He was only 62 years old.
I may well talk about it now, but such a thing is incomprehensible. Again, I continued to work on autopilot and keep the family going, but I barely slept. At work, I was a shadow of myself. Still, I did not think it was a possibility. I was not dead, was I sick? It was the company doctor in November who opened my eyes by saying, ‘Nicole, how long do you think you can keep doing this?’
Confidence is gone
I’ve been home for a few months now and can say for the first time that I’ve found myself a little bit again. I have cried, mourned, slept. But the scars from what I have put on my plate over the years are always there. It can not go well for a long time, I often think. It takes time before I dare to trust that luck is on my side for once.
I practice with that. The day I saw my daughter skip, I realized that I had to actively try to stay positive, otherwise I would perish. My children carry me through life. Without them, I would have long ago fled to a place where no one knows me, otherwise I would not have been there anymore. In addition, every day I decided to consciously reflect on small things that are nice. For though they were sometimes hard to find among all the sadness, there was always something beautiful to think about. That the food was good, that the sun was shining, or at the time my daughter said, “Mom, it really is not that bad to live just with you.” These are small boosts that I give myself when I’m sad, sometimes several times a day.
Sometimes I feel I have to answer for having a new relationship and plans for the future. But I must not forget that I can have fun, that I can go on with my life. That’s the only thing that has kept me going in recent years: keep going and keep enjoying all the beautiful things I still have. ”