‘Johan is ook weg’ (Johan too has gone away), ….

…the simple words of a father laconically stating the obvious.

 When I decided to start this blog, it was about the excitement of a new life, living and traveling in Europe. And most of my posts so far focused exactly on that, so much so that I believe I actually lose readers as each story is about ‘yet another De Wet trip somewhere’. However, living in Europe also has its normality and mundane day-to-day tasks which need to be done to ensure a sane living environment. I do believe most people embarking on expat living realise this and prepare for it, maybe even going to the extreme of taking ironing lessons before packing your bags.

 However, it’s not always easy going. Distance in times of sickness is a very difficult thing and though the modern era of Skype, email, flat rate telephony and all the other methods of communication available, it still is no substitute for that personal touch often needed to console emotions.

Johan in Sorgfontein ‘walk with the lions’

And that is what this one is about. Its my tribute to my brother Johan, a 46 year loving father, husband, brother, child and friend who last week lost his fight against cancer, and the emotional dilemmas one experiences when you’re so far from loved ones.

 Johan was aware that he had stomach pains for quite a while, and have been at the doctors for a couple of visits. Bacteria, hernia, spicy food were some of the prognoses, but then suddenly in January it was diagnosed as cancer, and quite progressed already! That was the start of a scary and tough, though also in a sense fulfilling 10 months which followed. I have learned in the past 10 months how the grace of God works through adversity to bring comfort and piece. I have also seen how friends and family come closer and closer and the good in people come to the fore when someone is in distress. I have seen how my friends, not having met my brother, stand up in support and going out of their way to comfort us as a family. AND, I have seen how he, Johan, the sick and dying one amongst us became the strong one, keeping his smile and positive attitude and even, on his deathbed comforting and praying for those around his bed.

 I got the message three weeks ago, though not explicitly that Johan was dying, but that he was getting very weak. He has lost in excess of 30kg in the past 10 months and had very little strength left. At that point he was taken to hospital again and I had to make a call of visiting him.

 My dilemma to myself was that by going to SA to visit him; was I admitting that he was dying and that I must go and greet my younger brother? And by not going and not seeing him I will have to go and attend a funeral without any last words later!

 I chose to go and will forever be thankful to my wife, Heleen for convincing me to do so. I had 10 days of stunning time with my brother before he passed away on 22 October 2012. I had the privilege of braaiing with him, even watching an episode of Dallas (figure that!) with him and having deep serious conversations about life’s regrets and opportunities while we even solved the Springbok coache’s problems in those 10 days. Heyneke should now just listen!

And then, yesterday when I phoned home, speaking to my Dad as my Mom was not home, I asked him about the quietness of the house after the two weeks of many feet entering and leaving their house and his answer was simply: ‘yes its quiet. Everyone’s gone home, and ‘Johan is ook weg!’ (Johan too has gone).

 So, Johan, I know you’re sitting smiling at our grief in heaven and I know it’s a much better place to be. I also know we will see each other again, and I know how great and comforting God’s grace is. But still it hurts, it hurts with a burning heavy pain in the chest type hurt and we miss you.

 I do whish we had more time.

 Rest in peace Broer.

Rus in vrede Broer

‘(9) And He said unto me, ‘My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefor will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.(10) Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distress for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then I am strong.’

                                                                                                – 2 Corinthians 12 : 9-10

15 thoughts on “‘Johan is ook weg’ (Johan too has gone away), ….

  1. Die swaarste na so n verlies is twee weke na die tyd ,as almal begin ‘vergeet’,dan raak alles werklik.Dan op twee maande besef jy hy is regtig weg en gaan nie terug kom nie en op twee jaar begin jy minder skrik as iemand verby jou loop en soos hy lyk of jy is nie elke Maandag(sy sterf-dag) hartseer nie.Kersfees en Verjaarsdae bly n riller,herdenkings en mylpale wat jou kinders bereik-maar as jy terug kyk sien jy wel een ry voetspore-God s’n en jy besef jy was nie alleen nie,al het dit die hele tyd so gevoel.Pragtige stuk wat jy oor Johan geskryf het en alhoewel my hart bloei vir almal van julle wat vir hom lief was weet ek hy is op die beste plek .God pluk sy mooiste blomme.Koester Heleen,sy is n diamant en dankie dat ons weer vriende kan wees.

  2. Sjoe De Wet, wat ‘n treffende ‘blog post’ en huldeblyk aan jou broer. He must be smiling down on you. Sterkte vir jou en julle familie, veral jou ouers. Jy sal vir altyd dankbaar wees jy’t vir jou broer kom kuier.

  3. “It is such a secret place, the land of tears” – Le Petit Prince.
    Aangrypend mooi geskryf vir Johan … ja jy is reg, hierdie is ook ‘n reis, die pad van gemis wat mens deurloop. Nie een van ons kan presies weet of verstaan wat jy nou dink of voel nie. Weet net jy en Heleen is baie diep in my hart, ook jou ouers en Rian en Sandra. Dis swaar om te weet julle het seer. As vriend voel mens om nader te wees en meer te beteken, maar steeds onmagtig. Sien julle vriende as hulpmiddels van Die Ou Grote tydens hierdie interaktiewe leerproses met Hom en die impak wat dit op ‘n jou innerlike toekomsbeplanning het. Met ons eie verlies van net oor die twee maande is die fokus vir my daarop dat die lewe inderdaad ‘n gawe van God is.
    Die verste reis bly maar in die hart van mens tot mens …. weet altyd hoe kosbaar julle is vir my.

  4. Ai De Wet, hoe smaar moes dit nie vir jou gewees het nie. Ek is dankbaar dat jy wel nog ‘n bietjie by hom kon wees. Baie goed geskryf, sonder te veel emosies maar genoeg om wel die trane in my oe te laat opskiet. Ek glo ook julle seer word draaglik gemaak deur God se genade. Sterkte vir al die dae waarin jy vorentoe nog baie gaan verlang. Gelukkig sal jy ALTYD met goeie herinneringe kan terugkyk en ek weet daar sal altyd iets wees om oor te glimlag.

  5. Het heel per ongeluk hierop afgekom en dit het my soos n` hammer teen die kop gevang.Ons was 1985/86 saam in die Staatspresidentswag en ek kan in alle eerlikheid se Johan was een van die Beste , Aangenaamste en Wonderlikste ouens wie ek ooit ontmoet het.Toe ons die dag uitklaar het hy my op die stasie afgelaai en dit was heel emosioneel om afskeid te neem. Het die voorreg gehad om n` Goeie vriend daarna deur die jare weer twee keer te sien.
    Ek hoop die pyn is al minder , want soos jy se DeWet – hy smile. wie sal ooit daai smile vergeet ?

  6. Ons vriend Gerrit van Zyl laat weet my ek moet ‘n slag jou blog kom lees en so kom ek op hierdie aangrypende stukkie af en dit laat my vir ‘n oomblik terugsit en nadink. Terwyl ek met groot spyt sit en lees waardeur julle moes gaan, lees ek gelykertyd die hoop en die vrede in die verhaal. Mag julle geseend wees. MM.

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