As you may have noticed, I vanished for a while -as far as blogging goes.
Here’s why: about two months ago, one of my ‘besties’ in my hometown Haarlem fell from the stairs. That resulted in brain injuries, a coma and eventually she died.
It was -and still is- shocking, sad, dramatic and devastating. My heart bleeds.
By now I’m functioning again and sleeping better. But I could not get myself to blog. My content and posts come from my ability to see the beauty in everyday life. To wonder and wander. To be amazed, intrigued and wowed.
When Marieke died, I temporarily lost these abilities and therefor I could not write. The world lost it’s glow and glory for me.
With this post I’m commemorating her and sharing with you what a special person and dear friend she was.
Working on this article was hard. It turned my stomach into a knot, I had a lump in my throat and I felt -and feel- sad.
The history of our friendship
I met Marieke (and her husband JanKees) 15 years ago in the tango scene from Haarlem. From acquaintances we grew to become friends, ending as really close friends.
I think it was around 10 years ago that Marieke and I, together with two other friends (Marianne and Marion), decided to catch up weekly. We met each friday at 11.00 am in a cafe in the centre of Haarlem. Drinking cappuccino’s and chatting for 1 to 2 hours. We shared the good and the bad, we laughed and we cried, we gossiped and we listened to each other.
The gatherings became a steady point in each of our lives and we all loved it.
On top of our weekly meetings, we saw each other at home, on birthdays, parties, one on one, and for more coffee and chats.
Marieke loved children, but did not have any. Or did she?
Marieke and her husband would have loved to have children, but it did not happen, which they both regretted a lot.
Marieke found a fabulous way to deal with her childless-ness. One day she met a nice pregnant couple that lived in her ‘hood’. It clicked and she spontaneously offered to become a babysitter -one day per week- once the baby was born. And so it happened; she became a sort of auntie to Kato, now 6 years old, a cute, blond girl.
She loved her dog Mette; a sweet, disobedient bundle of joy
I saw how Marieke and JanKees loved dog sitting for their neighbor’s dog, so I tried to persuade Marieke to take a dog. I felt it would do them both good. One day they did: since 2 years Mette was/is in their lives and hearts.
Mette is a big comfort and distraction for JanKees in these difficult times.
Marieke had a nose for style and quality; men-repelling or not
She would go in a store and within seconds spot the best pieces.
In fashion she went for the finest fabrics, for expensive brands, unique designs and cuts, and craftsmanship. Statement pieces.
A bit art-y, design-ish, baggy. She had no problem with things that others might consider to be men-repellers, as fashionistas call it. Like low crutches in trousers; not my cup of tea. But with her tiny frame, she pulled it off.
In jewelry she fell for the real stuff: silver, gold, semi-precious stones. She particularly loved her rings. She wore the same rings, every day, stashed on top of each other.
In most things she was not a more is more person. She did not do makeup, other than lipstick, she rarely put on nail polish, but she sure was more is more with her rings.
It looked great on her fingers and was characteristic for her.
Oh, and she DID spend a lot of money on prescription glasses in order to have a unique frame.
In fact, whatever she bought, it would likely be high end and beautiful. Wether it be a reclining bike, a dishwasher (SMEG!) or a purse. In her defense; she DID thrift a lot:-). That’s what she told herself at least. JanKees knew better…hahaha…
She was always up to speed with everything ‘cool’ and ‘happening’
Marieke somehow managed to know about everything cool going on. A new shop, a hipster cafe, a cool exhibition, a boutique hotel….Marieke knew about it, checked it out, had dinner there, booked a weekend in the hotel and tipped off her friends.
Gosh, I will miss her as my partner-in-cool-crime. I know a lot too, so we complemented one another’s info and knowledge. We shared the same taste in these things.
Marieke was a bit hyper, ADHD-ish
She always seemed in a hurry, rushed, not so much walking but more ‘speedy dribbling’. She had a general nervousness over her and was often doing two things at the same time. Walking and looking on her phone, talking while looking out the window to see what was going on on the street.
When I loaned her my ice-skates, she broke her wrist after a couple of hours, due to a fall on the ice.
Recently, one day, she ran, wild, fooling around with the dog in the garden. She crashed -out of control- full-speed into a giant tree, broke her collarbone, was bruised all over and had a mild concussion. Typically Marieke!
She‘d phone me, so you’ think she had prepared herself for it and was sitting down relaxed, ready to start our call. But no. I answered the phone. She’d say :”Hey, with Marieke!”. I would be halfway replying: “Hey, nice to hear from you!”, when she would go like: “Stop, Mette, don’t do that! Wait, Anja, I have to stop Mette doing this or that.” OK, I’ll hold…
…. 2 minutes later :”Anja? Hi, I’m back. Hey, so how are you? Oh, wait, my kettle is boiling…I’m making tea. Hold on, okay?” Sigh…okay…
….. Three minutes later: “Anja? Here I am again. So I was saying…oh…wait, I’m getting a text message…hahaha…it’s a message from…” Etc.
The best I could do , was sit back, wait, hold and stay calm…and that’s what I always did. And I didn’t mind. I loved her for who she was. It even amused me often…
… but she could also be focussed…
Other times, being 1-on-1 with her, you would see another side of her.
The day before she fell, she came over to my house.
We had cappuccino’s, chatted, laughed. I showed her the photo book I just made for the 60th wedding anniversary of my parents. I showed it to a handful op people before gifting it to my parents.
Nobody looked at it with more patience and attention than Marieke. She went slowly over every page and picture and read every sentence, giving comments the whole time. “Oh, gosh, your father was so attractive as a young man!” “Look at the knee socks that your mother wore when she was a teenager.” It really moved me how much time and attention she gave it.
…and she was very loyal…
Marieke was a loyal friend. Investing in her friends. Caring. Making soup when you were sick. Calling you to see if you were ok. Or just to keep in touch. Writing back letters whenever I wrote to her, because she wanted to ‘pay it back’ and make me happy, as my mail made her happy.
After my parents, the person from Holland that I had the most frequent contact with while in Singapore, was Marieke. We facetimed once a week, often for over an hour. Besides that, she regularly texted me and sent me funny videos or pictures from JanKees or Mette.
She kept friends from all periods in her life. With one or two she had had falling outs, break ups, but these were exceptions and in general she forgave and forgot. She was not one to hold grudges.
Marieke was very chatty and spontaneous
She would talk to anyone everywhere. When she went shopping with friends, they sometimes thought she knew the shop-staff since ages, only to find out later that -like them- she just met them for the first time.
Making contact was so easy for her. Being shy, I envied her for that quality.
In regards to men, she could be flirtatious. In an innocent way. Once, in Singapore, she felt for a sigaret, but officially she no longer smoked. She looked around, spotted two smoking caucasians, straightened her shirt so that her (small) boobs came out at their best and off she went. Within a minute she stood at their table, smoking a cig, talking, laughing, to come back half an hour later. Hilarious.
Marieke looooved to party and drink. A lot!
Marieke loved to be around people, to party and to drink. A good glass of wine, champagne or occasionally a cocktail made her very happy. She found it yummie, social, fun, and happy. And she could handle a lot of alcohol! Wow!
Where after more than two alcoholic beverages, I start getting drunk or sleepy, she could easily take in 6 drinks. Or more. Piece of cake for her.
When I organized a sing-long-from-my-couch evening for five girlfriends (we watched The Sound of Music and sang along), Marieke was there. When I organized a new years party for a small group of friends, during which we had hilarious fun with wigs, she was there.
(Oh, and she got so drunk, that when she left, she refused to take her wig off and give it back;-). No worries, she gave it back a week later.)
Whatever I organized, Marieke was the first to yell: “Yesssss! I’ll be there!!!”
She wanted to live. To enjoy life to the max. To be a part of things. And she was! She did!
She was a generous person
When she had enough of something, she had no problems letting it go. She easily and generously passed it on to a friend that she thought might appreciate it.
Like me, she had a thing for Maria-memorabilia. But her interest faded and she gave many of her Maria statues to me. Without asking anything in return.
Last January she gave me an old, damaged mannequin torso. She expected me to be able to make something out of it, while in her house, it was just catching dust, as she said.
We had fun. A lot!
I don’t recall how we got to this, but at one point, we were taking pictures of stuffed toys that we had lying around, placing them in ‘compromising’ poses. We called it ‘the toy-animal sex-stories’ and laughed our heads off when we saw each others pics.
I don’t know many other people who would have seen the humor in that;-). It was just silly.
At a certain moment she more or less dropped out of tango, although she still liked it. From time to time she would tag along with me, knowing that she could at least dance with me, if no one else would ask her. In tango there are lots of weird personalities and narcissistic behavior, but together we laughed about it.
Marieke was one quarter Indonesian, but she had never ever visited Asia. So when a pilot friend of her was flying to Singapore, she went crazy. “Woohoo! He can bring me along; I’m coming over to visit you and to see Singapore!” And she did. We spent 5 glorious days together last april and we had a blast!
Marieke loved trips and vacations
She would hardly be back home from one trip, or she would be planning the next one. A weekend in Belgium, two weeks in France, a mid-week to one of the Dutch Wadden-islands…she loved it all.
Looking for cute cottages and cool hotels on the internet was a lot of fun for her. She got all excited and when she found something she would immediately tell me about it. “Look, I booked this! Here is the url. Oh, and also check out this…and that…”.
Her farewell was unique, different, personal, moving and sort of beautiful
The pictures and my comments give a good impression, I think. It was both beautiful and heartbreaking.
Goodbye, dear Marieke
What can I say? Her death is tragic. I miss her every day. It’s hard to believe that she is gone forever. There’s rhyme nor reason.
If some one is old and sick, you may be able to see it as the circle of life, coming to an end.
Marieke’s death is more like a blossoming flower rudely snapped off.
Bye, girl, I love you…