Sunday, 20 July 2014

Gratitude and remembrance weekend

I knew one of the passengers on the flight that ended in the Ukraine. I knew her as well as any teacher could know a pupil. She was lively and loud, curious and smart. She graduated in 2013, after which she went to the north of Holland to study medicine. She died together with her brother  - and when I learned that their parents were also on board, I could only think thank God. I realised later on what a strange thought that was - in no way would or could I ever wish such a tragic fate on anyone. But the underlying feeling, of course, was one of horror: what parent could bear losing both their children?

I have spent this weekend in gratitude and remembrance. In remembrance of two other pupils I knew well who died (one during the 2004 Tsunami) and in gratitude for my children, all the gifts in my life, and for life itself. I pottered around the house in appreciation of everything in it and went into town where I looked at its splendour as if with new eyes. 

When I went into town it seemed as if I was more acutely aware of my surroundings than usual. I cycled past a couple whom I saw studying a piece of paper with instructions of some kind, surrounded by luggage and looking hot and sweaty indeed. I decided to cycle back to see if I could help in any way. As it turns out, they were Americans from Illinois and very grateful for my assistance. It was their first time in Europe, and they were starting their tour in Delft because, as the man said, "We have nothing remotely like this in the States. These quaint little streets and lovely old facades: all this couldn't be more different to where we come from." We walked together through the streets of Delft in search of their hotel. When we reached our destination we said goodbye like old friends. "If ever you find yourself in Illinois..." they called out after me.

Tomorrow I will be attending a memorial service where I will dwell in remembrance some more, and in appreciation for all that was and is.





17 comments:

  1. Gratitude, yes, and remembering those whose destiny has brought their lives to a sudden halt. It is never easy to lose loved ones and I am thinking of the grandparents of the brother and sister you mentioned and how they must feel losing their children and their grandchildren at the same time.

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    1. Yes, my thoughts are with the grandparents too, and the rest of the family. My 'thank God' is a first, gut reaction because the thought of losing one's own (young) children and being left behind childless is so ghastly. I know that they come from a large tight knit family and can only hope that they are able to come together in support - especially for the grandparents.

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  2. I too am grateful that my children are still with me. My grandparents lost a son young, my uncle, my grandfather especially was devastated he was nearly 50 when he was born and never expected to out live him. My thoughts are with all those who have lost loved ones this week.

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  3. thinking of you at this sad time, Isabelle x.

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  4. I am sorry. It's very tragic, and I've been thinking about it a lot. Some weeks the news washes over me and other weeks it just all seems so unbearably sad and I find myself in tears. It makes me stop and count my blessings. I guess it has that affect of everyone. Take care Isabelle. x

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  5. Words seem so inadequate, but my thoughts are with all those who lost someone. We never know what is around the corner xx

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  6. Hi Isabelle, I'm so sorry to hear your news. It's been a horrifying few days and has had such huge ramifications around the world. Thinking of you in this time of loss. Take care.

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  7. I am so sorry for your pupil, their family, you and everyone else touched by this terrible disaster. Take care. xx

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  8. This was a terrible tragedy and I can't quite get my head round it - why such innocent people should lose their lives is a mystery to me. It really does make you realise just how precious life is.

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  9. So sorry Isabelle. Any tragedy like this is horrible but the cicumstances of this one make it even worse. I have just been watching the footage of the news of the bodies on the train. There's not much dignity for the victims.

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  10. Such a horrible waste of life. Innocent people getting caught up in the crossfire of such a hideous war.

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  11. I'm so sorry, Isabelle. Such a terrible tragedy.

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  12. Although British we are great lovers of Holland and all things Dutch - my son is over there at the moment on a two part working holiday, the first half of which was in Bavaria - he has gone from the euphoria of watching Germany win the world cup while in a town near Munich to the totally understandable national mourning for this dreadful act of what can only be classed as terrorism. As a family we feel for you as a nation but also as individuals as all of you seem to know at least one of your fellow countrymen lost in this sad sad situation. (((Hugs))) to you all

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  13. Hi Isabelle, such a devastating loss. And I get what you mean about the parents being on board too. I would want to be with my children - I would want to be with them and know they weren't scared and that I would be there to comfort them. I was really hoping you would not now anyone on board but the Dutch loss was huge in numbers. Sending hugs to you Isabelle, take care. Elaina xoxo

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  14. Such a senseless loss. How could anyone think that bringing down a plane full of the innocent citizens of other countries could help anything in any way? I am saddened to hear that your life was touched more closely by this. As you say, gratitude for one's own good fortune and one's own family is profound.

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  15. I'm so sorry Isabelle. One of the other passengers was a student here in Leeds. I did not know him but I know his loss has been felt deeply by many here.It's such an unimaginable tragedy, such a senseless loss of life.

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Thanks so much for taking the time to visit. I love reading your comments so please feel free to leave one (or more, if the mood so takes you) in English and/or in Dutch.