What do you say about a year where your wife and soul are taken away to heaven? That day is the only thing which 2014 will be remembered for by me. The rest is unimportant. I know it is an exercise in futility to complain or argue with God about her early departing. It happened and as she always said when the going got tough: "Get a helmet Honey."
In fact I can say a lot about that day of horror, 21 May, but suffice to say I greatly surprised myself. I ran towards God and not away from Him as I would have done a few years before. I studied the Bible and wrote a book called When the Tears Stop about death and the Bible. Something which gave me peace - I now know exactly what the process is after death though of course, it is only faith which allows me to believe I will be with her again on the right side of the valley. Not as her husband but that is fine, we will be one again as we were on earth. It is enough for me. Was the knowledge gained worth it? I don't know for I am tempted to say that the price I paid for writing that book made nothing worthwhile but then it is also written that our Lord uses all things to the greater glory of His Kingdom. Yes, even the bad and worst things in your life are used to His advantage. Not everything bad is from satan.
There is a lesson in that too - you may not understand why such things took place (I don't) but with faith comes an unnatural peace and acceptance. Why I would not know for it is contra my nature to take such an insult lying down and the first thought is always revenge. Who can be made to suffer the same anguish as I went through and am still going through? Shall we go on the attack and start the blame game to score a few points? Shall I make a few phone calls and create havoc in their miserable lives? Or will you do what God demands, turn the other cheek, and run to God so that His mercy and love can surround you?
Obviously the last choice is the hardest and the correct one but the rewards are great...you emerge a better man. Truth to be told, it is not getting better emotionally, I still wipe tears every day, but I am tougher and stronger than ever before. In many ways I grew up and paid for it with grey hair and deep lines on my face. I can even laugh at the irony of the situation. She made me a man, a human being with feelings, and now I am alone stuck on earth where I really do not want to be and will leave as soon as God allows me to do so. Yes I get God's sense of humour and have no objections about it. In my heart I thank God for bringing such a wonderful woman in my life. I regret nothing and even if I knew how it would have ended I would have done the same again. This mountain of grief I can climb, of that I have no doubt but why I feel that positive about my abilities to do so, I don't know. It ain't natural. I should be angry and out for revenge but I am only sad and compassionate. Perhaps it is the Holy Spirit at work and for that I am grateful.
On the book side we did very well with about 140 000 downloads and many great friends because of them. Sometime in the near future I plan to write a short military history prayer book - you know - where we look at the different prayers used by men before battle. At the moment I am still researching it and have found some truly amazing stories and testimonies. There is no such thing as an atheist in the trenches, it is rather remarkable but then you most often find them far away from the trenches sprouting their brand of crap for everyone bored enough to listen.
I have also redesigned the various book and JKLS websites and am much happier with them now. They are shorter and to the point. I have a feeling that all will be good for 2015 which leaves me with the old song of Robert Burns we sang on the border and other places. I am sure you know it too:
Auld Lang Syne
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne!
Chorus.-For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne.
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.
Yeah, so it was for 2014. Happy New Year my friends,
God bless and may all your dream come true.
There is magic about Christmas, even for non-believers, there is magic. We think of the street lights, the decorated tree, the delicious food and, of course, the presents. Good family time and in this part of the world, a nice long barbecue for there will be no snow, only 90F heat and more. Most of us would be outside under a tree or in the swimming pool. When you walk in the malls (not to be recommended, lots of shoppers and armed robberies) you will find pictures of all the above. It is in general a feel good time where the magic takes place. But I wonder, being me, what would Christmas be without the above, no street lights, no decorated tree, no food and no presents as well as no family to annoy you.
This is my first Christmas alone - the first without Melissa and I will be alone by choice. There is no need for you to feel sorry for me...I could have gone to friends and I could have gone to "family" but I choose not to. I realise something - I want to be alone with my thoughts. Some things in life are better done and dealt with alone. I do not need hypocrites around me at such times. They would only serve to exasperate me.
I realised that Christmas is not about the fast talking merchant making record money with unnecessary crap he sells every Christmas and will do next festive season as well. It is not about the silly lights and the surplus presents or the "once a year let us be all family and friends now" moments...no it is about our Lord. It is about the road to Calvary and the final victory over satan and whatever is wrong in this world. It is too important to surrender to the glamour of the commercial lights.
We all know this, of course. I guarantee you if you ask any believer he will explain the above to you but I wonder if he really gets what he is explaining so glibly? Would he ever be that poor and struggling that he knows there will not be any presents anyway this year, or the year before, or the one before that. That he expects nothing and actually prays for none because he would be unable to give anything in return and suffer even more humiliation. There are some amongst us who simply don't see Christmas as anything materialistically special, it is mean nothing to them in that sense. The rest of us claim we "get Christmas" but our deeds show we are still wandering in the dark, lost. We still fall for the glamour, the lights, the presents, the decorated tree, and the feel good moments. We are trying to buy happiness.
Now let me also say, if that is you, and you are lucky enough (actually it is by grace only, not your own wallet) to have all the above in terms of the lights, the tree, the gift and family, accept my word I am happy for you. I hope that you will never know the other side where such things have no meaning to you because you are either too ill to care or too poor to be bothered or too alone to make sense of it. I am beginning to understand that Christmas is a religious day and not the day of lies which it has become. Of course you can buy happiness, let no-one tell you different for they are talking liberal (all rich people anyway) nonsense. But it is a fleeting moment of happiness that money can buy you, it will never last and the really good things are for free. Take for instance the love of a good woman; that cannot be bought by money. It is available for free if you are worthy enough to find and keep it.
The older you become the more you realise that the really important things in life are precious and beyond money. I was thinking the other night when I missed Melissa too much to sleep that even if I had Bill Gates type of money, my wife would still be in heaven and I stuck on earth. It would have made no difference in the end. So what does this glamour and lights actually mean when you think about it? Zilch, electricity and every apparatus (must have items according to the seller of such things) is a relatively new invention. Do you really need that gift which you bought to trade for love which should have been freely bestowed on you? In two months from now a new product will be out. A new model will sway you into fleeting happiness again. It is a wasted exercise in futility.
Go out and enjoy your Christmas, build your memories and be with your loved ones for you have no idea if this one is your last together. And remember when it comes down to it...it is only above the love of God to you. That is what Christmas is about, nothing else; don't be side-tracked by the merchants. Merry Christmas to all of you - enjoy the day.
If you ever want to read a great book on being a dad you would never go wrong with Dr Bill Cosby's "Fatherhood" but where you will find it I don't know. It was not in print for too long but it is funny, witty and insightful. Yes I also know the man is facing some serious challenges at the moment and that brings me to today's topic. When is a man a bad father in the eyes of the law?
To be politically correct I also ask "when is a woman a bad mother in the eyes of the law" and the answer may surprise you. From experience I can tell you that when it comes to children people act very unreasonably and strangely so at the best of times and during divorce, the second worst of times, even irrationally. They absolutely believe they have to go on a crusade; there is no other word, to "protect" their children from the other half meaning the dad or the mom. They almost always seem deluded to you, who are not personally involved.
Sometimes you sit at stare at a client wondering why on earth then produce the child in the first place if you cannot see them as human beings but objects to be bargained for? Was there no love in the act? Did you not have had dreams of the perfect family around the old Christmas tree once? Where is your natural respect for the man / woman you professed to love so much once that you took an oath before God (and your mates who may not have been drunk at the time) to love and cherish each other, through sickness and it health, poorness and richness until death do you part.
I lost my wife to God recently, seven months in three days from now. I remember and honor her every day. Sometimes I write secret codes into my books which only she will understand and I hear her laughing when I do that. As far as I am concerned death did not part us. Not forever that is, I love her today as much as then but that is soul mate love. I have also been divorced twice, why? They were not my soul mates and not her. They were good women, honorable and bright but not her and I will never make that mistake again - so you learn.
To answer our question, you need to be dangerous to the child to be such a bad mom or dad that the law will prevent you from having access to them. What does that mean? Child abuse in its various forms which I wrote about in a book called Satan's Touch. As with all things in life there is a pattern, same with wife or spouse abuse, there is a pattern and you can recognise it easily and then act on it. Of course, most would not; they would close their eyes and walk away. "How many roads must a man travel before he can see?" asks the songwriter. The answer is not in the wind actually, it is in your heart and when you walk away you know you failed one of God's safeguards for that abused child or woman. In fact sir, you are a coward and a bad father or mom if a woman. One day your own child may have such a problem and when the other parents turn away, you will feel angry and betrayed. You will also regret teaching your children to despise the police enough not to seek help from the man or woman in uniform.
Fair enough, even cowards will understand the above. What else? Being in jail or accused of horrible crimes? No, that is no reason not to see your child though there may be practical difficulties in doing so. It will take a most understanding mom to bring the child to such a place. Even the law says that a prison sentence of more than 5 years is enough reason for a divorce but this not about you, it is about a child who needs a dad or a mom. Now mark my words, every child, will look for his natural parents at some stage...better make peace with that. It is not to say he will be impressed with what he finds but blood is always thicker than water. There will be a natural desire to see his own blood. You cannot prevent this.
What about maintenance money? No money also equals no visiting rights? Absolutely not, the two have nothing to do with being a good dad or mom. I cannot tell you how many "good" mom's ended in jail and police cells because they decided that if the money is not paid, they will refuse access to their object, known to your as your child. It is contempt of court and I assure you, the police will arrest you. Note this - you cannot on the grounds of non-payment of maintenance refuse the mom or dad access. You have other avenues when you are not paid, you can go to court and demand payment. And listen to me, if the man has no job, and cannot get one (really trying) all what will happen to you is that the maintenance will be reduced to almost nothing and you will walk out of that courtroom feeling an idiot for paying lawyers to get you what? Nothing, you are now worse off financially but I hope a bit smarter also. Next time you will know only lawyers win in court. Obviously, if he can afford the maintenance and won't pay, the courts will deal harshly with him.
Then the old adage "I don't like his new wife" or the reverse "You should see the scum bag biker she is with now. K, I cannot expose my child to that." Listen to me, this is stupid reasons unless you can prove to me, never mind the court for you won't get me to make a fool of myself in court on your behalf, that the scum bag and the new wife is bad for the child. Don't tell me they smoke and drink, everyone does that. Don't tell me they know your old double bed a bit more than what you knew it in marriage, there is no crime in that either. We don't live in 1665 anymore and even then, people did not get blind on purpose. Otherwise the human race would not be around today. It is not a good enough reason.
And as with all things in law, if you say something you better be able to prove it to the satisfaction of the court and the laws of evidence. Otherwise you are abusing your child by preventing him/her seeing their loved. Remember now, blood, his own blood, is thicker than your love for your new soul. Don't abuse him with your own failures in life and never degrade your ex in front of him. The man might be a murderer and a nationalist but he is still that boy or girl’s dad. He is still the one who is entitled to be called "dad" or "mom" if you are a woman. Don't try to deny nature. It is silly.
Koos Kotze is a former member of the South African Police Force. He served between 1985 and 1991 primarily as a sergeant in the Pretoria Flying Squad. After leaving the Police Force he obtained the law degrees B Iuris & LLB at the University of the Free State (Bloemfontein, South Africa) and was a practicing commercial law attorney for eight years. He also wrote several books on business, law, counter terrorism and security issues. He is a widower and lives in Bloemfontein, South Africa.