Pieter Alexander Hintjens: 3 December 1962 – 4 October 2016
After a long and painful illness, a battle with cancer over the last six years, my brother has died in Brussels, aged only 53.
My love for him has always been the adoring, muted kind that looked up to the light he shone, that basked in his enthusiasm and tried, and failed, to keep up with the thousand-and-one ideas he gave voice and form to. Many of his passions were beyond my comprehension but very real, nevertheless. As a computer programmer, writer of internet protocols and founder of on-line communities, his interests went way over my head. As an author, latterly, we connected and I was able to collaborate with him on one of his books – The Psychopath Code – an involvement for which I am profoundly grateful: Not only has this particular book helped me to navigate a few tricky moments in my own life, but the understanding we shared was like coming home.
I can’t begin to do justice to my brother’s legacy as a professional innovator, thinker, and networker. Pieter was one of these rare people totally unafraid to take chances, to think not just outside the box but into the next universe. How he maintained his enthusiasm and energy, where his inspiration came from, I shall not know in this lifetime.
His death last Tuesday has opened up a hole in my life, a tear in the fabric of my normal. Poignantly – and painfully – it is only as his legacy becomes clearer that I notice the loss of his quiet, determined contribution in my life. Always, in the background, he encouraged me, supporting my modest hopes for an ordinary life: my ambitions to study, to write, to marry and have a child. In all these attempts he was unwaveringly supportive, while seeking so little from me in return. Of course, elder brothers are looked up to, and often expected to take the lead. But lately, in these last few years, while he faced pain and uncertainty – about which he has written so candidly on his blog – while he battled fear and the shadows of disappointment with his trademark wry humour, he faced these challenges fearlessly and with a fiery determination that is frankly awe-inspiring.
If I could, I would swear from now on to be always forgiving, loving, kind. But because I am only human I can undertake only to do my best to make him proud of me. I was always proud of him.