zaterdag 24 maart 2012

Winged Words of Grief

Stallie is neglecting you.  I admit it and I am so sorry.  If it may be a comfort to you: you are not the only ones. The list is long and distinguished.  There are even some people that might wonder was has gotten into me?  Well, is keeping me busy and writing is something I just do not manage to get down to.  Many stories are brewing in my head for the moment but I just need to find the time to write them down.

For the moment is just that my pupils, the work related projects, grading, meetings and report cards are top priorities. It is like the Olympic games are taking place at work. My old fashioned watch I exchanged mentally for a stopwatch.  And time flies & sometimes I am running out of breath. Not that I don't like what I am doing but it does cost me for the moment lots of energy.  My body tells me that I desperately need a break. On top of that I miss so many people that I have not seen for such a long time.

Thankfully I am then also for the springlike weather that I get to enjoy for the moment.  Because I need something on top of those vitamins that I take in the mornings and my cup of George Clooney coffee. This week I caught sight of a lively bumble bee and I love the dafodils that seem to pop up out of the blue and brighten up my day. And I even got my summer clothes out and I am wearing sandals while I writing this. These are for sure small signs of 'improvement'.

Plus the last two weeks there were many 'silent' moments and that time did stood still.  Because about two weeks ago when P&I woke up an we did hear what happened in a Swiss tunnel we just got very silent. The two of us did end up being lost for words and not just at the moment. After all there are no suitable words to describe what if must feel like to lose your child.  The images on the television, the many articles I read and the very intens and unforgetable one minute of silence of last week they all got under my skin. Sometimes I even changed the channel because how much can you take in of such 'news'?

In case you wonder why we in Belgium do/did get so intens emotional about this? Yeah, well we are not known as being a very emotional nation.  Many of you might never feel the urge to get closer to us because you can buy Belgian chocolate a shop near you.  After we are just a tiny spot on the globe and easily missed.  I tend to say that being so tiny makes us more connected in such cases as this. Sooner or later some of us might walk into someone who knows someone connected to these events.  Here at home we indirectly already did and I can tell you that it took me totally off guard this time.

That we got a national day of grief was to me not such a big of surprise but the impact if it was. I can tell you that the moment that I saw the half circle of 14 white coffins and one brown one (their teacher) with roses on them and next to each of them 4 soldiers saluting my heart did suddenly break.  The sight was so unreal! It paralyses you and you become aware of how thin the life-lines are that we hold on to.

Okay, being a teacher myself and also taking my pupils out on overnight excursions did make this kind of harder.  The responsibility that you are granted from parents I never take light at heart.  But accidents can and do happen.  I did try to imagine what it would have felt like to return from a school trip with just half of your class and perhaps losing a colleague or even not returning yourself. These toughts drive you to a certain despair and you just ban them as fast as possible out of your head and move on.   But the last 10 days it was hard not be confrontated with the outcome of all of this.

What did move me even more were the words that I got to hear and read of the close relatives of these victims.  They were real, pure, honest, funny, caring,fragile...words that must have been hard labor but also ones of intens love!  I can tell you from my own experience that the moment that you have to sit down to put down these kind of words that time does stand still and wish you could turn back the arms of time.  That there are so many words that you would love to use in order to get the message across.  But deep down inside of you do know that it will never be enough.  That you will never be granted the time to tell what you wanted them to know.  The final words that you get to tell in front of a casket are winged words that hopefully find their way into heaven but once you said them outloud you kind of feel so empty and all that is left is silence, deafening silence. 

So yes it are/were emotional times in Belgium and when you know grief yourself you do know the destructive force it does have.  I allowed a few times to let it take over my emotions that I sometimes fight back. Because once I experience grief I find so easily the way back to that on place in my heart that is so weak and rather dark.  Not that I have done it openly but once that I was on my own I did feel that tears would come.  Silent tears!

Because I just seem not be able to find the right words to end this entry I want to share with you some 'winged words' created by others that moved me in many ways:

'Hi brother, hi sister, how do you manage to do that, so suddenly not being there anymore? The empty place at the table, your room, your bed...You are, you were, you would always be there. What do you see, what do you feel, what do you hear, where you are now? Not being there how do you do that? Do you fly now somewhere in the sky, can you see us from up there?'

(part of the text the children of one of the schools have written for their 'lost' schoolmates)

'You are not realy gone.
You just crossed the stream a bit sooner,
the curious nature that you had.
'See you in the morning',
you used to say.
I don't say 'farewell',
not till 'later',
just till 'soon'.'

(the uncle and godfather of Sebastian,6th grader)

'You just loved to stand in front of a clas. At the beginning of a school year you used to say:'My 10 months of vacation are starting again.' And the ski-classes were undoubtly the highlight of that long period of vacation. It is for us a comfort that you had such lovely last days, together with Veerle and the children of the class.  It is only sad that we have not been able to share those with you.

Dad, when I left for football, I always used to say: see you later.  You then always replied from out of your seat with the same words:'tot sewwes' (till soon).
We all now say to you:'see you later', but as much as we would love to be with you, we just all hope  it won't be for 'sewwes' (soon).'

(the son of the 6th grade teacher Raymond)

‘We should not see each other for some time.', the ant said.
‘Why not?’ did the squirrel ask surprised. He did find it quite pleasant that the ant now and then just passed by. He had his mouth filled with porridge and starred with his big eyes at the ant.
‘To find out if we miss each other.’, said the ant.
‘Missing. You do know what this is, don't you?’
‘No,’ said the squirrel.
‘Missing is something that you feel when something is not there.’
‘What do you feel then?’
‘Yes, well that is what this is all about.’
‘Then we shall miss each other,’ sadly the squirrel said.
‘No,’ said the ant, ’because we also can forget each other.’
‘Forgetting! You?!’ yelled the squirrel.
‘Hey,’ said the ant, ‘don't yell that loud.’
The squirrel laid down his head in hands of the ant.
‘I will never forget you,’ he whispered.

(translated freely after 'Het verhaal van de eekhoorn en de mier' from 'Misschien wisten ze alles, by Toon Tellegen)

(At the funeral of the 7 classmates three classmates read this out loud and I can tell you that seeing them there in front of the church facing those 7 white caskets and tons of people made me feel so ......)

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