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Hans’s Story

In Fun-loving Memory of Hans Loewen
January 8, 1994 - March 29, 2014

Our dear, sweet Hans was doing what Hans does best -- having a blast and sharing adrenaline flow!  Hans had forever been, with our support, our encouragement, and our vicarious participation, a calculating risk taker.  Hans was a loving warrior, and we want our warriors to be risk takers, don't we?  Indeed, don't we all take on risks the moment we walk out the door?  But Hans did it all with gusto!  He was a kitesurfer, a rock climber, an extreme downhill longboarder, a surfer, a paddleboarder, a marksman, a parkourer, a unicyclist, a slackliner, a snowboarder, a DJ, a mountain climber, an offroader, a triathlete, a mountain biker, a drummer, a reader, an ice climber, a comedian, a foster brother, our loved and loving son, brother, boyfriend, grandson, cousin and friend. 

Hans was just finishing his second year at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis and planned to serve his country as a Naval or Marine Corps officer upon graduation in 2016.  His service selection desires and options were completely open: Navy Seal, Navy Pilot, Marine Corps Pilot, Surface Warfare Officer.  Hans lived like a warrior and would have been one of America's finest.

Hans researched each of his passions with a passion and when he engaged in it he did it with calculated intensity.  On Saturday, March 22 Hans miscalculated as he was engaging in one of his many extreme sports and suffered a devastating brain injury, despite wearing his helmet, after longboarding beside a slowly moving vehicle and falling beneath its rear wheel.  He died a week later on Saturday, March 29.  Oh God, hear our prayers of thanks for Hans receiving the world's best care at the University of Maryland's Shock Trauma Center, and bless those who received and will receive his many organs from his selfless donation.  

We all feel and hear and appreciate the outpouring of love and prayers and know that he has been uplifted in hope by all of us, our family and friends in Hampstead, on his beloved Topsail Island, all across the U.S. and the world, and his entire and incredible Naval Academy family.  We are at peace with the knowledge that he is in heaven, though he lived every day like it was already heaven on earth.

Flow with kindness.  Flow with love.  Shine like Hans.

Remembering Hans Loewen @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PaV4nCMI4Y8

Latest Journal Update

IMAGINE

People have often said to me during this first year without Hans, “Jennifer, I just can’t imagine what you’re going through.”

Yes, they can imagine. They just don’t like to, and if they do imagine it, they certainly don’t like it. A year ago I remember being on the other side, when my family was complete. We all loved each other. Hans and Zatha liked coming home. They were proud to introduce us as their parents. They loved each other and we had fun when we were together, just the four of us. We weren’t estranged from each other. Things were so right. We were a whole family.

I remember thinking regularly of my family and friends whose child had died, feeling sad for them, crying for them, hurting with them, because I did not like imagining how it must feel. I prayed regularly for my children’s lives, hoping that God could see that they were, would be, ARE good in the world. The pressure of mainstream, Google-accessible, self-translated religion tells us we MUST pray. And if we don’t, well, something will happen to teach us the lesson we supposedly need to learn. So I was grateful, truly grateful for my life and my family’s wholeness. I certainly could imagine the utter horribleness of your child dying; I just hoped, thought, and prayed it would never happen to me.

We had a large wall in our dining room in Idaho Falls. We ended up filling it with 8.5” by 11” sheets of paper, each with one unique quote printed on it. We would add a quote to the wall when we found one that was inspirational. We had friends and family propose quotes to display, and the family would convene to determine if the quote was worthy of the wall. We ended with about 45 quotes up there. The first was, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” The second one read, “Pray not for an easy life. Pray for strength.” Well, we certainly need that one now.

Because then it happened. And it happened quickly. The back kicktail of the skateboard came in contact with the rear wheel of the Jeep, then in less than 1/100th of a second it was flipped upward, its rear truck crushed into the asphalt. Hans kept his forward motion, and gravity brought him to the ground. The same rear tire ran over his head. The helmet he was wearing couldn’t protect him, and he died his first time. His friend brought his heart back to life, but it is an amazing muscle and doesn’t really need the brain, Hans’s crushed brain, to work. He died his second time a week later, one year ago on this date, March 29. 

I still say to myself what must be the usual sayings of a mother whose child has died. It’s not supposed to happen to him, to me, to us. It’s not fair. Hans was awesome. We were awesome. We appreciated and loved each other. People continue to say (and I still can’t stand it) that everything happens for a reason, we must learn the lesson, that it’s all part of His plan. It hurts to believe that people, when they see me, might be thinking, “There’s the mother of a dead child. Wonder what she did to deserve this. I’m glad that’s part of her plan and not mine.”

I have a hard time reconciling my deep grief – wanting the world to grieve with me because Hans was such a wonderful human – and keeping it in perspective. Each one of us will be affected by death in our lifetime, and each of us will die. The circumstances of death are different, and yes, many are worse than others. Each person and family is different. Grieving is different. But the end result is the same. The person I love is dead.

And so I admit it. I am jealous. Jealous that all of you who read this, and the billions who will never read this, are alive. I want Hans to be alive. But I also don't want to be consumed by anger and bitterness and jealousy. I’d always tell the kids that jealousy (coveting), is, in my opinion, the worst emotion or sin because it propels the rest of the evils into action – theft, murder, disrespect. I have a daily struggle now with my jealousy. Because, for the rest of my life, Hans is dead. And dead is so damn final; written in stone, as they say. 

It is true that really all people will remember about you is how you made them feel. I know I never was, and never will be, perfect in that way. People have odd ways of interpreting others based on their own beliefs, thoughts, and perceptions, but I work hard every day, still trying to live my life in a positive way, albeit with less confidence and peace now; to live it pleasantly, graciously, thankfully (for what I still do have – a wonderful, loving husband, a beautiful, hard-working daughter, loving and supportive family and friends), and with honor – to honor those who are still living in the world with me, especially our sweet, amazing Zatha, and for those who have died before me, especially our sweet, amazing Hans.

Hans’s life has been marked on his gravestone with two dates and a dash. He made the most of his dash. I’m trying to continue making the most of mine, trying to imagine it full and happy and peaceful again. Think about “What’s in your dash?” as you watch this video we made to mark our first year without Hans. Then I dare you to make the most of your dash, make it as badass as Hans’s.

https://vimeo.com/123530698 


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Comments

37 Comments

jay flowers
By Jay Flowers
When I am around you and Eric, i know that all I can do is sit with you in your pain. Continued prayers for your strength.
Laurie Kostrzewski
By Laurie Kostrzewski, Kirk '16/12 CO, Buffalo, NY
Thank you Jennifer, from another Midshipman Mom. You need to know how Hans' spirit is yet touching our lives through your sharing of his. Trust God and know he holds Hans in His arms. Be blessed!
Sharon Philpott
By Sharon
Loewen Family - I wish I had met Hans and seen first hand the obvious joy he had for life. The world lost an amazing young man yet he touched so many during his life. You are also an amazing family!
Thomas Burggraf
By Tom Burggraf
Dear Eric, Jennifer and Zatha,
While I have only met Eric, you have all captured my heart. And because of that, my heart breaks with and for you, and is inspired by Hans' great dash. It seems that love as deep as you shared, yields equally deep pain when it is taken. Easter has always been for me a time of overwhelming hope, when God said "No matter how things look, with Me, the best is yet to come." That can be hard to believe in the best of times, unimaginably harder in the worst. I pray that God will comfort and sustain you in hope and love. You haven't stopped loving, despite knowing the risks. And that is heroic. Well done, Loewen family.
Lisa Abruzzo
By Lisa & Joe Abruzzo, Tim '17/19
Beautiful video and tribute to Hans! Although I never had the privilege of meeting Hans or you, I feel like I know your family. Thank you again for sharing Hans with us and helping us to know the amazing young man he was.
Linda Weiss
By Linda Weiss
Thank you so much for sharing this with us. Your sons dash was amazing and the video is very inspiring. I continue to pray for and think of you all.
Linda Van Dusen
By Linda Van Dusen, a good friend of his Aunt Jane
Your family will continue to remain in my prayers.
Linda Van Dusen
By Linda Van Dusen, a good friend of his Aunt Jane
Dear Jennifer, What beautiful words and video, you have such a way with words. Maybe one day you can write a book to help other parents that have lost a child. You did not do anything wrong to deserve losing Hans and don't let anyone tell you different. Grieving has no time period and you should take as long as you need, it will not never go away but should get somewhat easier as time goes by. My husband and I went through watching Pat and Jane when they lost Arjay and I could feel their pain and wished I could help them. From what you have said and Jane has told me, Hans lived more life in his 20 yrs. than some people live in a lifetime. May God help you get through the days and months ahead. To para phase one of our church benedictions- May the risen Lord be above you to watch over you, in front of you to guide you, beneath you to support you and within you to help you in your grieving times.
Lourdes and Todd Best
By Lourdes Best
Hans shines on through you...through your words...your dash is inspiring.
Karen Strickland
By Karen Strickland
I only knew Hans from track. My son ran for South Lenoir and they would compete against each other. I remember when Cannon first began running, he was a shy 9th grader and Hans was so good at running. But, he always took the time to be encouraging to my son. That meant so much. Cannon went on to win the states his sophmore and senior year. You raised an amazing son.