24/01/2019 - 30/01/2019


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Wonderful, beautiful son of mine.
My first-born.
I wanted to ask you what feelings predominate in you
On a night like this.

I more often failed than succeeded to see fatherhood as an enrichment.
I remember with painful clarity
How you, at three years old, 
Were completely engrossed in a puzzle,
Depicting a Smurfs village. 
I had already erected the lid of the box.
I would quickly teach you how to make a puzzle.

One: the corners.
There are only four. We look for those first.
And put them to one side.
Two: the pieces with a straight edge.
We also need to look for those and put them aside.
Three: with these pieces, we construct the frame.
And only then do we move to
Four: the rest.
We use them to fill the frame.
That’s how you make a puzzle.

But you were much too young for that puzzle.

It had 100 pieces, I believe. 
You grabbed a piece, showed it to me, and laughed.
All the pieces were equally fascinating.
And every piece fit into every other piece.

After a while I started to look at those pieces
Through your eyes.
And I felt a sting.
I felt a sting. 
Behind my eyes.
Pure. Pure. Jealousy.
I wanted to be able to see like that, too.
Forget that little system.
Corners. Edges. Pieces.
Like you, I wanted to
See a piece with a Smurf-blue arm,
And not necessarily want to find
A fitting Smurf body.
I wanted to be able to admire every piece
Rather than wanting to finish that puzzle.

What’s the use of making connections?
It makes us smarter.
It gives us an overview.
It helps us understand.
But does it make us happier?

That night, after I’d ‘helped’ you,
As parents should,
I lost myself in drink.
To be a child again,
Laughing at a puzzle piece.

And now, my son,
At this very,
Moment of deathly illness,
I know:

In the face of death I see things for the last time;
painfully aware,
but with the same force as when I saw them first, blissfully unaware.

I am an elder child. 

Bruno Vanden Broecke and Raven Ruëll are working together for the tenth time. They have known each other for twenty years.

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