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Delft, 17th August, 1996

My dearest Ed,

Tuesdaynight my Flemish boyfriend Luc came by. He stayed for three nights. During his stay he spent hours copying video- and audiotapes. Mainly cabaret and satire of which there's shortage in Belgium. The first night we watched, among other things, a compilation of Paul Haenen. Vicar Gremdaat in discussion with an elderly man. "That's H. We had a relationship once", I said. The voice, the image of a former lover, his motions on screen. On wednesday (my day off) I showed Luc parts of Scheveningen, The Hague and Delft. The other days he went about by himself.

Thursdaymorning I read two obituaries in the Volkskrant: H. had died. " Born in Vaassen, son of Arentje van W. and Hendrik van D. Died 11th August, 1996. Cremation has meanwhile taken place." At the bottom of the other ad were a number of names, many of which I knew. I have written you often about H: about his role in my life. He told me once that his diaries may be published after his death. An account of some 40 years of homosexual living. Scary, don't you think?. We shared seven years. It is a long time ago. We parted, but he stayed in my mind.

Twice I mentioned him in my stories, you have read them: The night with the white French poodle and The Dress. Originally, after a bizarre adventure, that first story ended as follows: "At the station I called a friend in Amsterdam and I asked whether I could come over. (...) I drank too much wine and threw up all. Good boy, he said, and again he pushed his finger in my throat. Everything will be fine, I thought, one day, everything will be fine."

While reading and rereading those obituaries, a gush of sorrow went through my body. A short crying-fit. I prepared breakfast, woke Luc and told him what was going on. I had to go to work, pull myself together, control myself, make for the train. I gave the key to Luc, a couple of directions and wished him a nice day. He went to see the Monet and Matisse-exhibition and to hunt for books and cd's. At the office much went wrong during the first hours; weird mistakes, equipment out of order. I fumbled and fiddled until I was in charge again. Fortunately Luc came home early and I became reasonably stable emotionally.

Now it is Saturday, the house is empty and quiet. I think of H. My eyes itch. It hurts to say farewell.

your Olaf

Continuation, almost two months after H.'s death.

Delft, 5th October, 1996

Dearest Ed,

A COC-magazine contained an In memoriam' for H. Love was over - a long time ago. Rationally I understood that, but it remained a smarting wound. I became emotional, felt sad and lonely. On Monday 30th September I folded the 'Andersblad' at DWH, in which I wrote about him. Folding went clumsy, but I enjoyed being there. Conversations went deep and I talked about my past and friends, in a more intimite manner than people where used to from me.

At eleven o'clock I was back home, checked the Internet for messages, took a shower and went to bed. My head could not find rest, after half an hour I got out and took a sleeping pill. The excitement had put me in a state of hypomania. In such a state I am more active than usual, getting physically tired, but my mind starts wandering. I ate and drank a little (bread, milk, no alcohol) and turned on the TV for some diversion. Not to worry, tomorrow would be a day off anyway, without obligations. Michael Jackson sang 'You're not alone' on MTV and touched me. I tried to sleep again, but couldn't. Better spend the night reading, listening to music, the Internet and the like.

'It's a quiet night' I wrote in a newsgroup and at 4:28 I posted a rhyme from highschool: i lay my hand / on your warm front / close your eyes' A little poem about love, that -I noticed with some start - could also be about dying. For the third time I went to bed. Suddenly terrible cramps, as if my stomach was wrung out like a wet mop. A few seconds rest, than the squeezing, wringing. Pain was almost unbearable, I thought I was dying, then I felt something shooting up to my throat. False air, my soul or a stone that had been in my stomach? I was in danger of choking, again I thought I would die. I swallowed and pushed to get rid of the lump. I struggled for life. With great difficulty I regained my breath, my throat was empty.

The process lasted for five minutes, that pain and fear. I kept analysing, thinking. 'What is happening, is this normal, is this right. Is this dying?' My body won. Grief gushed out. Tears ran down to my neck. I saw grey flashes through my eyelids. Thunder, lightning, heavy weather, a thunderstorm broke. 'This is a sign,' I thought, 'now everything is fine, his soul is released.' Finally I was able to cry, sob, weep. Thereafter relief, I calmed down. The Hague Holland Spoor station had been flooded, so I was told afterwards.

Now, a few days after, I still do not understand these feelings and thoughts. Should I explain this psychologically or biologically? Was this nothing but the end of a mourning-process? The pain had been real, as well as the notion of 'dying'. Nowhere I can find a written account of such an experience.

your Olaf

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