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Life before and after the deadline

Pictured with my sister (left) and 'oma' on my 8th birthday.

The last few days have been hectic. We’ve just sent our new issue to the printers. The deadline of 2 May was marked in my Google calendar way before we started planning feature stories, and for a far more personal reason. It marks the 1 year anniversary of my grandmother’s passing.

It’s a strange term, isn’t it? “Deadline”. Usually the point we all focus on as a team. The moment we dread, knowing time is up and whatever project we’ve been working on must be completed. When you think of it, in life, we never know when that moment will come.

It’s probably for the best.

I’m glad my dear ‘oma’ didn’t suffer long. She stayed in hospital only two short weeks before figuring; ‘To hell with this place, I’m out of here.’ Mom says ‘opa’ was waiting for her on the other side. With the dogs, of course. It makes me smile to think of them reunited, though I’m not even sure what I believe is really ‘out there’.

Maybe it doesn’t matter – not now, anyways. Our reality is forged by the sparks of hope and affection, isn’t it? As a practical optimist I know it doesn’t pay to worry about something you cannot control.

I may be a writer, but let’s face it; we only write part of our narrative.

One day, we’re here; laughing, sipping wine, reading our favourite book. The next, we could be gone. It’s not a thought I like to inhabit. There is too much life to enjoy. I’m not just talking about the big moments, also the small ones – which oftentimes are the most impactful.

Isa & Noé in their first car.

I watched in wonder as I witnessed the first confident steps of my niece last weekend. Little Noé was crawling across the living room floor moments before and suddenly hurried towards the coffee table, around which our family was gathered. She wobbled on her feet a bit, then curiously stretched out her pudgy, pink hands to pull herself up and hold herself steady. My mom let out an excited gasp. ‘Look at her go!’

Meanwhile, my 7-month old nephew Ike (we call him little Ikey) is extending his vocabulary, following the example of my niece with great enthusiasm. Honestly, put the two together and you’re sure to hear the most adorable exchange. Not that we have any clue what they’re saying.

The eldest of the bunch, 9-year old Isa, just got her first mobile phone. I got a call from an unknown number last night and heard her happily rattling on, as proud as can be. She is almost a teenager now, talking about who she likes (and doesn’t!), practising her English and recording vlogs. How time flies.

You know, I’ve always considered myself a word nerd. A proud one, at that. I bask in the poetic rhythm of language, the art of calligraphy — and I try to brush up my practical skills whenever I have the chance. I’m currently learning Vietnamese (my boyfriend Roland’s native tongue) and am having fun trying to work new phrases into conversation. (Did you know that “dep” means beautiful, for example?)

That’s a Dutch thing, I’ve heard. We like to blend English, German, French – whatever best suits the occasion. It adds both spice and nuance. Also, some words just sound better in another language.

Whether you love writing and reading or not, the power of language can’t be denied. It’s the tool we use from a young age onwards to relate to one another; to tell stories, to share our concerns, and offer advice. And words allow us to remember.

The good, the bad… and the in-between. And all the people we meet along the way.

We all turn into stories in the end. I think we may take comfort in that.

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