Cape Town - On Tuesday morning Pieter van der Westhuizen, updated his Facebook cover photo to a picture of his younger brother Joost, taken when he was healthy.
There was no caption, but everyone knows why he shared the beautiful photograph – it’s been exactly one year since the Bok legend lost his long battle with motor neuron disease.
But messages of support from fans and loved ones poured in in the comments section of Pieter’s post.
“Thinking of you and your brother and parents today. I know the last few days of this time last year keeps repeating itself in your minds. I know how motor neuron disease changed your lives, as well as ours and that of others. It’s not an easy journey,” Arina Boshoff write underneath the picture.
“Today is a very sad day. We as a family are thinking of you and know that this pain is a heavy burden to carry,” Elize Edgerton wrote.
Johnny Burger, chair of the South African Hall of Fame and a close friend of Joost’s said he still can’t believe his friend is gone.
“It’s incredible to think it’s been a year. I look at my little girls and my dear wife and I chooses to live fully,” he told YOU of the past year.
“In a way I’ve learnt about reality. It was still unexpected, but you have to go through all the phases [of grief]. First there’s the incredible shock and sadness, but you learn a lot. You learn to choose life.
“Joost stayed strong right up until the end. He had an incredibly strong character – even with that wicked little grin of his and his eyes darting around like that.
“You learn bad things happen to good people. Joost knew he was on his way out but he always made time to smile. He chose to live right until the end. I learnt a lot from him,” he added.
Pieter recently told YOU the day of Joost’s death will always be at the back of his mind, and on this day he’d prefer to keep busy in order to stem the tide of painful thoughts.
“Just the thought that he’s no longer on this earth is a lot to deal with. I know he’s in heaven, but what’s it like where he is?” Pieter said at the time.
Many still find it hard to deal with the fact that the former Springbok died aged only 45 years of motor neuron disease, mere weeks before his birthday on 20 February. He was supposed to be in the prime of his life, and be around for his two children, Kylie (11) and Jordan (14).
Joost would have turned 47 this year.
In the same interview with YOU, Pieter said the last time the Van der Westhuizens saw Joost’s kids was the day of his memorial service at Loftus Versfeld. It seems that day was also the day they were to say farewell to Joost’s children, because they haven’t seen them since.
Singer and actress Amor Vittone, Joost’s estranged wife and the mother of his children, declined to comment on the anniversary of Joost’s death.