Only love.

Dear friends and other interesting creatures,

My genes, my love, are rubber bands and rope –
make yourself a structure you can live inside.
– Aimee Bender

Growing up, my entire existence revolved around the blessing, forgiveness, joy or occasional disappointment my grandparents may have felt about me. Oupa Mike and Ouma Chrissie were the genes, love, rubber and rope that held the family together.

I only realised after Oupa Mike’s death in December 2007, that we had lost not only lost a grandfather, a father, a friend and talented, funny and gifted storyteller, a giant – but our moral compass – our rock as a family.


In the moments growing up when I briefly allowed myself to think about the death of these people I treasure, I imagined it would be Ouma Chrissie that was the “true North”. In my heart, I knew she would be devasted should Oupa die before her, but I had never grasped the true meaning of a broken heart… and that it would be fatal.

She died in all sense but breathing, the day he did. 56 years of happy marriage to her best friend was enough to bring her to her knees, literally. While she was present physically for another eighteen months or so, she really wasn’t there at all. She carried him in her heart and I believe he carried her.

I miss my grandparents more than words could describe. No wordsmith could do better than I, for silence is also a word.

I have been missing my Ouma Chrissie especially the past few days, but then, I realise that I’ve never truly seen her as an entity alone. In my mind, they are joined and therefore my missing is of the sense of wonder I felt when I was with them. To them I was never loud, I was never too much, or too little – I was just right. Always.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realise that life is fragile. Here today, and a tombstone tomorrow. I’ve been visiting my parents more often, not because I fear their death, but because I fear not living with them while they are here.

I want to hear my Dad speak to my Mom. I smile at their conversations when they think they are alone, and the way their words seem to console, tenderly embracing each other, desperately aware of time moving forward. I want to fill my heart with more memories.

Life is not kind. Life is not patient. Life does not forgive all wrongs.

Only love.

I wish you enough,


The River 

The summers were sweltering. Walking towards a braai fire to greet you, I remember the extra warmth of the fire clearly. I remember your smile and the true happiness as we said hello.

You had clearly already started the Merry part of Christmas. I expected nothing less. You always were more of a bottle than a glass kind of guy. The Vaal river was running strong behind the trees and it soothed our souls. 

I hear the laughter coming from the kitchen. Hands clapping. My face exploding in a smile as I enter the house and I know I had been spotted. Hugs so pure and with such delight that it had the power to raise the dead. 

All was well in the world.

Even if contact was broken over long periods of time, I always knew you loved me, as I loved you. It was a rare connection. 

I think of you and the river, with a hole in my heart, a tear in my eye and a smile playing on my lips as I close my eyes. I’m a “monkey’s wedding”. Raining with sunshine.

Since you left this earth earlier this year, I’ve been more aware of you. Somehow you are closer. I’ve told nobody for the fear of sounding more absurd than usual. Maybe I needed the shoulder to lean on. Thank you for lingering.

Even though we both know you were not an angel, I felt safe knowing you are in my world. The landscape is forever changed.

I know now that the river had nothing to do with soothing our souls. It was the people that surrounded us with their love, acceptance and our sense of belonging. The laughter, catching fish and swimming with frogs is gone. Those hugs that could raise the dead, has died. 

Just as we were, in that moment, we were enough.
Stel x

PS. “Jy weet mos”. 

42 you said?

Dear friends, family and other interesting creatures,

Some bonds cannot be broken. Not even in death.

It may be 17 years since Tim died, but I had a very real sense of him yesterday. I could not understand why he lingered yesterday. Nothing out of the ordinary happened. Usually I am able to pin point an emotional from him, a smile, a look in his eye – yesterday I just felt him here.

He always visits, sitting on the right hand side of the bed, regardless of venue. Before he died, we had never even been in a bedroom together before.

Seeing Tim isn’t scary or creepy. It can be both comforting and heart breaking. Sometimes I smile, other times I feel renewed grief.

I am not big on “speaking to the dead”, or “crossing over”. I’m merely relating that somehow Tim keeps contact. Often followed up the next day or two in a quote or a song, an item that was of value only to us.

Have you ever experienced anything like this?

I wish you enough,

The Nocturnal Wenchy


Dear Tim,

I’ve told you before. The thing with death is, I have no new pictures of you. So I had to improvise a little.

As I have been preparing for my Grahamstown festival trip next month, I could not help but think of you. Do you remember?

You were in school uniform. Matric blazer. I was sitting on the steps of the church on the square in Grahamstown. I went to a private school so no uniform. I remember I was wearing a very stretched out purple jersey and brown leather shoes I had bought at the festival.

(Remains the most expensive shoes I’ve ever owned. Haha! I would much rather buy books. I had no idea at the time how much purple was still to follow.)

The sun was setting.

You came and sat next to me. I had never seen you before. You sat, silently. I remember…

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For the good times

Dear friends and other interesting creatures,
This reminded me of beautiful you,  Victoria . My youngest biological child.

The way you use to look at me with wonder when you were little.

I told you if they could one man on the moon, why couldn’t they put all of them there?  🙂 

You seemed to think I knew answers.

I love you chicken little.

I’m sorry for the bad times,  let’s raise a cup of tea to the good times. #theoriginalcast

I wish for you never to be afraid of depth.

Momma xxx

Posted from the galaxy of Samsung from the second cloud on your left.

.. so lui die ou, ou sprokie my kind


As die reën van stof en roet verby is
en die rook verdwyn
Sal daar in die sterrelose hemel
‘n neonboog verskyn

En kyk maar goed,
want as jy hom vind
vertel ek vir jou ‘n sprokie my kind,
van ‘n skatkis met ou kettings gebind
aan die neonboog se punt

Volg hom elke nag oor swart riviere
Oor kranse van beton,
as jy aanhou stap
tien duisend ure
sal jy dalk daar kom

Maar hier moet jy jou nimmer laat bind
want so lui die ou, ou sprokie my kind,
As jy geluk en vreugde wil vind
soek die neonboog se punt

Volg hom elke dag oor swart riviere
kyk nie eenmaal om
Dalk vind jy die land van blou saffiere
en dalk ‘n brokkie son

Sprokie vir ‘n stadskind – Koos du Plessis

Ek weet,  en jy weet en dis genoeg. –  Toy

Stel xxx