Time flies

Last Friday was the valedictory/retirement celebration of my former professor, Bart ter Haar Romeny. From 2001 until 2010 I worked in his group, first as a master student, then a Ph.D. student, a Postdoc, and before I left to work in the Radboud hospital in Nijmegen I was an assistant professor.
It was a fantastic reunion with many former colleagues and friends. Although the day was tiring, I was delighted to be there, and I even got say a few words to Bart.
When I left in 2010, I was a healthy, promising scientist. Nobody could have imagined that I would retire more than a year before my professor.
With all my former colleagues and friends around it almost felt like five years ago. It was great to see that everyone has their fantastic careers, successes and promising futures.
When lying in bed yesterday, still tired from Friday, I imagined myself, my former colleagues and friends as birds, some flying higher than others, but all far above me. Me unable to fly and hopping on the ground. Over the last years, I accepted that this is my place, and I am sure that I can have an impact from down here. However, being surrounded by people from before my gradual descent made me think about what could have been.


Jouw woorden raken ons diep. Met trots hebben we je weg naar een fantastische baan gevolgd, gezien hoe je je ontwikkelde tot een gewaardeerd wetenschapper met veel mogelijkheden en kansen voor een glansrijke carrière. Maar met nog meer trots hebben we je de afgelopen jaren, maar met name het afgelopen jaar gevolgd en gezien hoe je bent gegroeid. Nu moet je op zoek naar een manier om je talenten anders te gaan gebruiken en dat gaat je lukken. Hoe verdrietig we ook soms kunnen zijn, we blijven geloven in die mooie kant van de medaille. Maar huilen mag…

Hopefully your wings will grow back a little after this though and difficult year. And otherwise, there is also plenty to experience on the groundlevel.
It was a good speech you gave for Bart.
“May the force be with you.”

You speech was amazing!

Sorry for spoiling it:(

Haha, you absolutely didn’t spoil it! It was a great bridge! I of course expected that people that know me would think so at that point. It was great to see you again.

Bedankt voor de prachtige speech, je hebt ons diep geraakt. Blij dat we erin voorkwamen met onze “persoonlijke successen”. Fantastisch dat je ondanks alles dit voor Bart hebt kunnen doen en de rest daarin meegenomen hebt!

Flying is not about a career or career success. It is about living. And in that you are far beyond any of us. Very proud of what you have achieved. You amaze me every time (well, not the part about the nose hair 🙂 Big hug!

Bram, you are touching many people more deeply than those with supposedly glamorous careers are maybe doing. I hope for your speedy improvement and returned vigour and health. May I quote a hopeful poem, since we are speaking of birds?

“Hope” is the thing with feathers—
That perches in the soul—
And sings the tune without the words—
And never stops—at all—

And sweetest—in the Gale—is heard—
And sore must be the storm—
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm—

I’ve heard it in the chillest land—
And on the strangest Sea—
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb—of Me.

-Emily Dickinson

Thanks Francois!

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