We attended a funeral today. A good friend of Gert's died on Christmas morning. She was his friend, a much-respected colleague and, because of their friendship, she became a woman I appreciated and respected intensely.
You see, she performed our wedding ceremony in District Huis. After a service in Dutch, she gifted us a poem about love, read aloud in English. I think I quietly adored her from that moment on.
Marleen De Backer was Flemish. A politician, a school teacher, and a woman who worked tirelessly at the highest level, for the community of Deurne, over decades. I can't even begin to list things she achieved because I don't know a half of them. I do know the flower baskets in the streets here are hers. And I saw how politicians from all sides respected her.
And when I heard the bagpipes warming, up on our way to the church, I was a puddle of tears partially because of my memories of the bagpipes back home in New Zealand but mostly because I had heard they wanted to honor her because of her work for them.
This morning the church was full of people from diverse backgrounds. She was a woman respected and loved by so many. She was still young and surely had so much more to give. Sitting there in that full church I understood something of how much she had managed to achieve and how many lives she had truly touched.
She will be sorely missed and I'm sure there will be a space left in that place she used to fill with her own particular grace, intelligence, and charm ... for a very long time to come.
Note: I'm going to turn off the comments because I don't think there are any words. I was there on the edge of her life and while I respected her, I never stepped up beside her. I wanted to share her. Just her.