I wrote this piece for Kevin just before he left for university in 2016. Little did I know that he would be leaving for New Zealand three years later on almost the exact same date. We don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. No one is even promised tomorrow. So for today, if you are so very blessed to have your children with you, please give them each a hug from this mother who misses hers terribly.
This is a ‘living eulogy’ for my son, Kevin. I got the idea from a movie I watched recently and to me it was such an apt way to celebrate a person’s life while they are still alive. He’s leaving for Stellenbosch tonight (16 January 2016) and my mom-heart is shattered, so I want to honour him today:
Kevin van der Watt is larger than life. He is one of those very special human beings that, if you are so fortunate to know him, will change your outlook on life (or you personally) without a doubt. Besides the ‘usual’ positive attributes that he has, he is a unique and ‘different’ human being that will challenge you and change you – sometimes without you even knowing it.
Let’s get back to those positive attributes. Kevin is kind, loving, loyal, funny (and fun!), witty, intelligent, positive, sincere, persistent (very, very persistent,) cheerful, compassionate, consistent, courageous, devoted, forgiving, generous, outgoing, quirky, sensitive, trustworthy, warm… and many, many other things. With Kevin around, you are guaranteed a laugh and he will be funny in a way that you won’t mind even if it’s at your own expense! I suppose this is Kevin in a nutshell. But if Kevin passes away today the thing I will undoubtedly remember about him most, is his ruthless sincerity.
Let me explain: For the past few months Kevin started living what I can only call a brutally honest way of life. At first it shocks you to the core, sometimes it hurts your feelings, it always leaves you surprised (pleasantly or otherwise), it even makes you question society and the way we live our lives as a whole but most of all it almost always challenges your own belief system and the way you live life. You see, Kevin has decided not to lie but to be brutally honest at all times – yes, preferably not even a little white lie. Before he started this radical way of living I never realized just how many white lies we tell on a daily basis! “How do I look in this dress?” is answered with a sweet “You look lovely my dear.” Or a ‘safe’ answer like “I love that colour on you.” Which is of course a lie most of the time, but who has the guts to tell someone “You don’t look too good in that,” or “Please don’t ever wear that again, you are hurting my eyes?” Well, Kevin has. But Kevin takes it up a notch and this is where people get divided about being honest. You see, when you look really hideous in a dress and you ask Kevin how you look in it, he will reply with “You look absolutely hideous in that dress.” No sugarcoating whatsoever. Ouch.
It’s not always fun to be on the receiving end of this honesty but let me tell you this; he can take it the same way that he dishes it out. And that is why I respect him so much for this. He will admit that contrary to the path of brutal honesty he has chosen, he does slip up sometimes (he is human after all!). Essentially that makes him an honest lier or a lying honest person. It’s an oxymoron because in admitting that he slips up, he is again being sincere! Anyway, it is quite complicated… or wait, I want to correct myself, it’s actually not complicated at all. You just tell the truth. Period. No excuses, no lies – yes, not even a white one! (Of course I’m not stupid, I know there are things you simply don’t tell your mother! I’m ok with that 😉 )
A lot of people will find this type of honesty insulting and rude. I did too at first. I even questioned the way I brought him up! But then it slowly dawned on me that if we as a society could manage to all do this, the world will be a much better place! People will have better relationships, they will understand each other on a whole new level and nobody will ever have to remember what they lied about! This straightforwardness is so refreshing and different and it makes Kevin the most authentic person I know.
Kevin is going to study psychology at Maties this year. In a way I feel sorry for his patients one day. Because if they are expecting a psychologist that is going to sit there and stroke their ego’s and tell them how wonderful they are and that there is absolutely nothing wrong with the way they live their lives, they’ve got another thing coming! The most important thing they will receive from Kevin is honesty. And it’s going to hurt. But it’s going to be a huge gift to them as well. Luckily he is also warm, understanding and compassionate. And wise. And that will make all the difference.
I want to honour Kevin today for the young man he has become. I want to honour him for being a son to be proud of, a wonderful brother, a loyal friend and someone with a zest for life that is seldom seen. I want to honour Kevin for making me laugh and cry and the same time. For being there for me when I need him. I want to honour my son for always having a joke or two on hand and for trying to cheer everyone up with his wayward sense of humour. I want to honour Kevin for being the most authentic Kevin he can be.
Goodbye my son. I am going to miss you so very, very much. Things will just never be the same again, I know it. Thanks for being my star that laughs. I love you more than you’ll ever know.
Your very proud Mom X
I played this song to him yesterday as a ‘goodbye’. The words are beautiful and I couldn’t have said it better myself!
I’M NOT ALONE
If you go your own way And it’s far from where you started You may say, I’m not alone I’m not alone
And if you pray, in the eye of the storm. The broken-hearted will feel the grace, That’s how you’ll know. You’re not alone
You’re not alone, you’ve been here before. You’re not alone, you’re not alone
And if God can be my witness And the angels stand by me And the words of those who love me Is the truth that sets me free This much I’ve known my son You’re not alone, you’re not alone
If one day you don’t belong You’ll recall long after I’m gone These word’s I’ve known, Love has shown, I’m not alone
In the winter of your despair You’ll find the birds that once were there. Come back in spring, you’ll hear them sing We’re not alone
And if God can be my witness And the angels stand by me And the words of those who love me Is the truth that sets me free This much I’ve known my son You’re not alone, you’re not alone…
Today: Kevin, if I knew what the future held I would probably never have let you leave for Maties in 2016! I miss you and your brothers endlessly and I so wish we could all be together. A mom can wish!