“How do you do it?”
A question I often hear when I give speeches to conferences or participate in discussions, where Hans’ experience with the Health System can be used to improve it. When I reply rather vaguely, it’s not because I don’t want to talk about it, but rather because the answer is complex and developing over time.
I did the eulogy at Hans funeral, 14 days after his death. Even though it was hard to give the speech, it was much harder to write it. When I managed to get through the speech, it was an inner power compelling me, a force stating that I would and should do it. I was helped by still being in shock and by me only superficially – on the factual level – accepting his death. It was simply out of the question, not to do the speech.
In the following weeks, Hans’ story was told again and again to friends, family and journalists. Later, when we got involved in inquests and work around meningitis and various support groups, the story again had to be told, and in a strange fashion you get desensitised to the actual facts. It’s noteworthy, that on the occasions where the story does visibly move me while telling it, it ‘s when I mention a new detail or when I reflect on feelings I haven’t brought up before.
Complicated as it is, the answer to the question of how I can talk about Hans’ death in front of hundreds of conference participants is easier to answer than the question I ask myself: How can I keep on living? Go to work every day and plan for the future?
I constantly think about Hans and I do nothing to avoid it. His picture is on my phone and my Facebook page. Besides the candle that has been burning since 2/1/17, he has his corner of the house with photos and another collection of photos in the living room. I have some of his ashes around my neck in my silver heart and his autograph tattooed on my arm. I visit his bench as often as I can to sit and reflect. It will soon be 23 months since he died. That in itself is surrealistic. But the realisation is complete. We have reached a point in our lives where we can think and talk about a future life. A life without Hans. It’s just so much harder when it comes to the present. When Hans died, a meteor crashed into my soul, destroying most and leaving a huge and deep crater. Fellow sufferers often describe the grief as coming in waves, and it seems to me, that those days where I am low – where I’d rather stay in bed and cry all day engulfed in self-pity – are days where I have peeked towards the crater. Occasions where I have dared to think deep – think about my present life without Hans. How I miss a 19-year old living the rest of his life. With football, fashion, girls, friends, study, traveling, music and politics. How he tried to be cool and hide his actual respect for his parents who he would otherwise publicly find antiquated and make fun of. His compassion when he thought we needed it. How he expressed his love and humor. I miss the problems. When I hear parents talking about problems with their teens, I envy them. I wish I had problems with Hans… and then vertigo strikes. The empty feeling in the stomach. I have peeked towards the crater and I’m forced to look away. I can’t look down, I can’t think deeply about Hans and take hold of emotions deep in my soul. I remember as a kid, we warned each other not to think to hard about infinity. The story went, that if you by some chance suddenly got your head around infinity, your head would explode! That’s kinda how I feel about Hans. I fear going mad, if I think too deeply about him missing from my present life. I realise his death on all levels of consciousness, but I keep the consequences hidden for that part of my soul, that is still not anywhere near being able to take it. There might be a day, where my whole soul can take the truth, but until then, I am not looking down.