Last Saturday, November 3rd, I decided to go visit Sander, who was at his parents’ house, two streets from us. It was raining and the streets were eerily quiet.
Mr. Rietdijk opened the door. When I told him who I was and that I came to visit Sander he was quiet for a moment. Then he spoke. Sander died this morning he said. I immediately cried.
He invited me in. Sander lay in a hospital bed in the living room, a smile on his face and two oil lamps burning softly behind him. Wendy, his wife, gave me a hug, and his mother also. I was very moved. Even though I was sad, we each felt that he had been released from his suffering. There was a lady from the funeral services already there to go through the arrangements. I spoke with Wendy who seemed very natural, and at peace.
When I left I felt a bit empty. Once at home I called Emmy, who was now in a revalidation center and still has trouble walking. She said the same thing, his suffering has ended.
Yesterday we went to the cremation services in Den en Rust, a beautiful area in the woods of Bilthoven. There were so many relatives and friends, that we’ve attended the services outside the theatre. Even though we knew no one there except the family, it was moving to hear how Sander had been before his illness. Sander’s father read a very moving poem by Toon Hermans, Sander and his grandma had shared it often:
Sterven doe je niet ineens
maar af en toe ‘n beetje
en alle beetjes die je stierf
‘t is vreemd, maar die vergeet je
het is je dikwijls zelfs ontgaan
je zegt ik ben wat moe
maar op ‘n keer dan ben je aan
je laatste beetje toe.
(Free translation by Sheila:
you don’t die all at once
but each time a little bit
and every little bit you died
its strange but you forget
often you don’t even see
you say I’m just run down
but one moment will reveal
your last little bit is flown)
Fare thee well Sander. I will remember you.
After the ceremony we gave our condolences to his family. They were very glad that I had come, gave me a big hug and even wanted to comfort me too! They are very loving people. Amazing, how you can feel close to people you have just met. We are all in a similar unwanted situation which brings us closer together.