You and me, we started out slow. So slow that after six months of talking online we still had not met up. That was mostly my fault since I had sworn of men for the past three years and to be quite honest was terrified of sex, dating and anything involving the heart.

Then, one day in June, you decided to come over to my house in Zutphen, all the way from Amsterdam. According to you it was time.

I was a nervous wreck. First of all.. how does one dress for a stylist? You arrived in a Lacoste checkered coat, red cap, loafers, the whole shebang. I was in jeans and a singlet plus full panic mode. What I learned then, on that first “date”, is that nothing rattled you. You had me calm and at ease in no time just by sitting next to me and being there.

We were each-others opposites that way and in many others. Me hectic, all over the place, loud, panicky, prone to crying and emotional outbursts. You steady, at times almost impenetrable. Giving nothing away in words but speaking volumes through action.

The picture with this post was made by you that day, me looking quite flushed. Somewhere there must be many other pictures you took of me. This is the only one I ever got to see.

In the months following you took me out of the shell I had carefully constructed for myself during the three years of isolation. You cooked for me and would laugh at me if I was afraid to eat something, always egging me on to just try! You would tell me I was beautiful, calm me down when I was panicked and were always there when I needed you.

Of course you could also be frustrating as hell. First of all you saw everything. I would come through your door and you would look me up and down and see the work-tag through my coat and comment on it. You also always knew better. If I would tell you it was raining you would tell me it wasn’t even if it was clearly pouring down outside. And the most frustrating thing for me was the fact that if you did not want to talk about something it just would not happen. The King of avoidance.

We found our rhythm together in between taking care of our kids and working we saw each-other when we could. It was a strange time to date, corona restrictions abound so we were mostly just by ourselves.

About a week and a half ago I saw you for the last time. We went to the Veluwe together, got lost even though you got it, and talked about what we wanted out of life. The next day you got sick. Three days later so did I. Both in quarantine it soon became clear you were much sicker than me. When after Friday midday I did not hear from you again I could feel something was wrong, a hole in my stomach. A day later you were gone.

Now you are all over social media, the newspapers, everywhere. It is beautiful and so deserved. But for me you are just the guy who held my hand on the couch while doubling down with laughter over a joke by a stand up comedian.

I will miss so many things about you. Your laugh at me frantically trying to explain something with my hands when I did not have the words. Facetimes’ in the evenings when the kids were down. Dancing in my kitchen. You telling me how it is, even if you were completely wrong. You waking me up three times a night with your roaming hands, checking if I am still all there. Being in the car together your hand on my leg. Sitting at your table getting schooled in music. You seeing absolutely everything, which was nerve-wracking at times but made me feel seen, important. Just You.

8 months ago we started dating. 5 days ago you died. I will never be the same.