A good number of friends and relations had come to the crematorium; too many to fit into the hall where we listened to his favourite jazz music pieces and two wonderful commemorative speeches - the first by Best Friend, his half-sister, and the second by her father and his stepfather. Years ago, Ben'd written a nonsense verse in her 'poesie album', a kind of friendship book that little girls in Holland carry with them and ask friends, family and random people they like to write them a poem in and that usually gets lost or discarded or is never returned by the last person they asked well before puberty, and it was this nonsense verse that she took as the starting point and recurring theme for her tribute to him. It was very moving, very insightful, and totally celebratory of his life and personality. Rob, her father, then spoke of their shared love of jazz, good food, fine wines, and the hunt; and Ben's neverending thirst for knowledge -- even during his last stay in hospital, he'd kept a stack of study books by his bedside.
Afterwards, there was the obligatory (at Dutch funerals) round of coffee and cake, followed by the equally necessary round of sandwiches and soup, and we mingled and met with old friends and commiserated with acquaintances, and expressed our deepest sympathies to the family.
I left before the last round of wine and cheese. When I glanced up to where I'd seen the stork before, I was sad to see that it had flown off...
Rest in peace, Ben. You will be missed.