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At 8 AM I take off my apron and run out of the cafe across the street to the beach where I join about fifty others ready in swimsuits wrapped up in towels to stay warm. We each receive a flower and walk silently into the ocean. Saying goodbye in our different ways to a lovely man in the community. I feel light headed and find strength in the hand of a woman I have never met. We count to three and surrender to the icy cold water.

That was one of his things: morning swims in the ocean. So we honour him in his special place. Instead of a regular day at work, my day has been devoted to someone else. Feeling spaced out and grounded at the same time, I watch everyone walking out of the water. That night during yoga, the teacher asks us to dedicate our practice to someone. I find it beautiful, as it makes me think of that person throughout the class. I also notice I push my limits further because I am doing this for someone else.

When you do something for another person, the veil of life seems to lift a little. Distance becomes nothing but a word. Thinking of a loved one (in whichever realm they roam) while being present in your words or actions, can feel like a telepathic phone call.

I’ve been feeling pretty homesick this week. Thinking lots about life and death. How my time in New Zealand can seem like an ‘in between’ or temporary life. As if my real life has been put on hold and the film will only start rolling again when I decide to pick up where I left off. Whether that means going back to Belgium or going somewhere that feels like home, who knows. All I know is the thought of seeing dear family and friends, of holding them tight, brings me a lot of joy and excitement right now.

Until we meet again: I will devote to my loved ones every sea swim, every barefoot step in forest mud, every dance, every word falling from my mouth and fingertips.

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