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I wrote "Wave" the day after my father died. Writing and sharing the story, together with the support friends and family gave, helped me enormously in processing the grief. The story talks about how people's lives are like a ripple that goes on long after they die. It talks about open mindedness, wisdom and humility. It talks about the ups and downs of life and grief and loss and the importance of remembering the good things. Of course there is much more in this story, but I'll leave that to your own imagination.


There was a wise man who lived in a village near a lake far far away. His name was “Wave”. It was not his real name, but that's what everybody called him.

When Wave went through the village, the children of the village would run and dance around him and ask him all kinds of questions. Wave knew that children can ask many questions that most adults can never answer.

It was his favourite time, when the children came to him. He loved the simple truths with which children thought and through which they could understand things that ordinary people couldn't.

Wave learnt much from the children. They always made him think just a little harder. And that's what he did. And because of that, he would always come up with an answer to the questions the children asked. He had learned to see what children see, he had learned to think in children's logic. He had learned never to think children were dumb, or that they were just a nuisance with all their questions. He was too wise for that. He knew that he had learnt most of his wisdom from listening to children and seeing children play.

One of Wave's favourite questions the children asked was, “Wave , why do people sometimes have to be happy and sometimes sad?”

Wave would take the children to the lake and throw a rock into it, right in the middle. He would make the children look at the waves that came towards them and get them to tell him what they saw.

The children would tell him that the waves got bigger and bigger and bigger, and they kept going for a long time. Then Wave would make them look harder, and usually one child would say, “They're going up and down too!” That would please Wave very much. He would say, “You know, life is like that too. There are many ups and downs. Life is like a wave.

The children would laugh, because they all knew the story very well. They also knew that it was because of this story that Wave had got his nickname.

And then Wave would say that if it weren't for the ups and downs of the wave they saw in the lake, it wouldn't get bigger and bigger either. He said, if it weren't for the ups and downs it wouldn't grow and it wouldn't move. And then the children would say, “And if there were no happy's and unhappy's in life then life wouldn't grow either, would it?”

Sometimes they would ask, “Wave, have you had many happy's and unhappy's in your life?” Wave would just smile with his gentle smile and look at them and then into the distance and then back at them.

After that he would throw another rock into the lake and ask the children to look again, what else they could learn about the waves. He asked which you could see best, the ups or the downs? And he would show them that the ups reflected the light, but that the downs were dark, and that it was much easier to see the ups. He said it was always good to remember the good things, because that brought light into your life, just like with the waves.

He said that if you remembered the good things about people and not the bad, it would make it a lot easier to remember them as well, and you could learn from them. You could as it were catch their good waves for your own life. He also talked about catching the good waves that the Great Creator Spirit sent into the world every day.

The children didn't really know how to do that bit, but they caught the good waves from Wave, and their lives grew even though unhappy's would come from time to time.

One day Wave didn't turn up in the village. The children missed him and didn't know what to do. Then the news came that Wave was very sick, and that he very much wanted to see the children one more time, because he didn't know if he would still get better or not.

So they all went to Wave's little house. Fortunately the sun was shining that day and Wave had got a little better. He was sitting outside and that was just as well, because all those children could have never have all fitted inside his little house.

But they were all worried, and they said, “Wave, what will we do when you're not here anymore? We'll be so sad that we don't know if there can be anymore waves in our lives. We don't know if without you our lives can still grow and move.” Wave thought for a little while and then said, “Remember every time when I showed you with the rock in the lake?” They said “Yes.” He then said, “You know rocks are hard and when they hit you they can hurt a lot...” He paused, and then said, “But it is the biggest rocks that make the best waves.” “The secret of the waves is that you always see the up sides best and the down sides fade away into the dark. And because of them you grow, grow, grow. It can't be any other way. It's always happened like that and it will always be the same.” “Then one day you will be able to catch the waves from the Great Creator Spirit for yourselves”

Then two children said at the same time, “And how will we always remember you, Wave?” “Just remember the good things my dears he said with his gentle smile, just remember the good things and you will always have me with you.”

~ ~ ~

Many years later there was a throng of children around the lake. Every year they would get together to remember Wave. Every year they would tell each other about all the good things, about all the up things, not just about Wave, but also about other up things, including the ones of the Great Creator Spirit. And every year as they got together like that, at the same time every year, a fish would jump up in the middle of the lake and make a big splash and leave a wave that would grow bigger and bigger, up and down and bigger, and they could all see very clearly Wave's smile in the water growing bigger and bigger and bigger.

©2008 Ralph Holwerda


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