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Peronne

Mourners gathered, literally in their hundreds, to say goodbye to Peronne and offer their condolences to her devastated parents at the cemetery in Rotterdam where her family owns a plot. A marquee had been added onto the chapel, but even so a substantial part of the gathering had to stay outside and follow the service over the loudspeakers. Originally, the family had requested there be no eulogies, but after the vicar had concluded his hour-long speech, her uncle gained permission to say a few words, reminiscing about and stressing her role within the family; and then her father got up and and paid an impromptu, and very moving tribute to his daughter, his only child.

My friend Peronne was a singularly unique individual. We're all unique to some extent, but Peronne was somehow more unique than most. Born with the proverbial silver spoon in her mouth, and into a noble family, her innate natural warmth, compassion and genuine interest in her fellow human beings enabled her to overcome the boundaries of class and deference and communicate with people from all walks of life in the spirit of truth and equality.

Growing up in a family and a congregation that allowed her to be herself, and to explore her natural curiosity, she soon discovered faith as a way of life, while realising that the important things in life came down to individual choices. When it came time to go to university, she knew there was only one study for her: theology, which she read in Leiden and Oxford. She became a vicar, and a tireless advocate of interreligious dialogue. She even became the president of the Dutch chapter of the International Association for Religious Freedom I.A.R.F., and also worked for some time as a volunteer for a faith-based NGO at the United Nations in New York, and as a fund-raiser and guest-preacher at the All Souls Unitarian Church in the same city. She recently published a book on the importance of rituals.

Naturally, she was much more than a vicar on a mission to do good. She was my friend, who loved good food, who loved to have people round for dinner (she was the perfect hostess as well as a fantastic cook) or go out to the finest restaurants; who was a tremendous wine buff whose greatest enjoyment lay in sharing her favourites with her friends and acquaintances. She loved classical music and the opera, jazz recitals and Paul Weller. She was fond of art, clothes, jewellery, and makeup; liked to travel (both for work and for pleasure), and we often used to go on shopping sprees to London together. She absolutely loved vintage sports cars, owned a red Alfa Romeo Spider, and drove in rallyes all across Europe. She loved parties and apart from throwing some magnificent ones herself, always lit up every party at which she was present as a guest. People gravitated towards her. Men lost their hearts to her, and she broke a fair few, though never out of malice or just because she could. She would have loved to have found Mr. Right, but although she thought she might have once or twice, she was always disappointed in that hope.

She never judged. She accepted everyone, young or old, exactly as they were, and never tried to change anybody other than to try to induce or encourage them to do good. She was loyal, supportive and unwavering in her friendships. She was a great listener and a giver of sound advice. She was, quite simply, a wonderful human being, one of the best there ever were on this planet, and the world is a colder place without her.

Yesterday, we took her to her final resting place. After the coffin had been lowered into the grave, her father scattered the ashes of her half-brother Ben, who died 13 months ago, over the lid. It seems fitting that the two of them, so close in life, should be together forever in death.

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Comments

( 30 Speak Like A Child — Shout To The Top )
deborahw37
Mar. 13th, 2007 08:50 pm (UTC)
What a wonderful tribute to a wonderful woman ((hugs)) you hard
gamiila
Mar. 14th, 2007 02:36 pm (UTC)
Thank you for the hugs, they're appreciated muchly.
xionin
Mar. 13th, 2007 09:38 pm (UTC)
what a tragedy for the world to lose someone so special, so soon. my heart goes out to everyone whose lives she touched.

gamiila
Mar. 14th, 2007 02:37 pm (UTC)
There are countless people whose lives have changed, and for the better, simply through having known her. For that, I am grateful.
julchek
Mar. 13th, 2007 09:43 pm (UTC)
I agree, what a tribute to an extraordinary human being.

Take good care of yourself, G - we all love you and are here for you.
gamiila
Mar. 14th, 2007 02:38 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much. I will need all of you in the coming days.
wackinessensues
Mar. 13th, 2007 10:01 pm (UTC)
This is a truly beautiful tribute to your friend.

I hope time will erase the hurt and embed the love you shared with her into your heart.

*hugs you*
gamiila
Mar. 14th, 2007 02:39 pm (UTC)
What a beautiful wish. I will endeavour to make it come true.
married_n_mich
Mar. 13th, 2007 10:58 pm (UTC)
Beautifully said...
gamiila
Mar. 14th, 2007 02:40 pm (UTC)
Thank you.
curiouswombat
Mar. 13th, 2007 11:13 pm (UTC)
She sounds like a friend I would have wanted to have.

It is a lovely tribute to her - and I have a feeling that when we write about our friends and relatives who die on our journals like this, it helps us not only to understand what we have lost, but also to rejoice in what we had.

I hope that what you have written will be a comfort to yourself over the next months and that you will want to come back and re-read it yourself whenever you miss Peronne.
gamiila
Mar. 14th, 2007 06:36 am (UTC)
There's no doubt in my mind that had you met, you would have become friends. You would have seen eye to eye on many levels.
My words can't do her enough justice, but I am determined to celebrate her life and be thankful for the fact that I've had her in mine from this moment on until the day I myself will die.
anonypooh
Mar. 13th, 2007 11:26 pm (UTC)
Such a special person. Thanks for sharing a beautiful moving tribute to a beloved friend. Take care. Lots of love.
gamiila
Mar. 14th, 2007 02:44 pm (UTC)
Thank you, and forgive me if I fuss and watch over you like a hawk when we're in the States next week. I don't want anything to happen to you, too.
(no subject) - anonypooh - Mar. 14th, 2007 08:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
soundingsea
Mar. 13th, 2007 11:59 pm (UTC)
I can really feel your love for her; what a lovely tribute.
gamiila
Mar. 14th, 2007 02:49 pm (UTC)
It's true, I did love her; and my one consolation is that she knew that, too.
chantal87
Mar. 14th, 2007 05:51 am (UTC)
((HUGS))
gamiila
Mar. 14th, 2007 02:49 pm (UTC)
Thank you.
spiralleds
Mar. 14th, 2007 06:57 am (UTC)
I'm so sorry for your loss.
gamiila
Mar. 14th, 2007 03:09 pm (UTC)
Thank you. The vicar leading the service took his inspiration from Psalm 103...not a bad choice, but not one Peronne would have made. She liked to hunt around for the less familiar, more obscure passages -- people sometimes said her sermons were too highbrow, but she was a gifted and impassioned speaker, and her homilies were always worth listening to.

Perhaps we can gather some together and publish them later...
db2305
Mar. 14th, 2007 09:24 am (UTC)
Een prachtige eulogie voor je vriendin. Als ik dit lees, wilde ik dat ik haar had gekend.

Mijn innige deelneming.
gamiila
Mar. 14th, 2007 03:12 pm (UTC)
Dankjewel. Peronne zou je graag ontmoet hebben. Helaas kan het daar nu nooit van komen.
enigmaticblues
Mar. 14th, 2007 07:49 pm (UTC)
*hugs* What a beautiful tribute to an amazing woman. *more hugs*
gamiila
Mar. 14th, 2007 08:02 pm (UTC)
Thank you. My life has been enriched by having known her, and I mean to carry on in her spirit.
roissy0
Mar. 15th, 2007 11:29 pm (UTC)
Sorry, I'm so late but I just saw this.

I'm terribly sorry for your loss. Your tribute was wonderful though and it sounds like you have a lifetime of memories to keep close and console you in the future.

{{hugs}}
gamiila
Mar. 16th, 2007 01:25 pm (UTC)
Thank you. She was a wonderful friend to have, and I'll cherish the memory of her forever.
desdemonaspace
May. 25th, 2007 01:21 pm (UTC)
Oh, how sad... and yet, how lovely. Thank you for pointing this out to me. (How could I have missed it!) I'm so very sorry for the loss of your beloved friend. Please accept my condolences.
gamiila
May. 25th, 2007 09:51 pm (UTC)
Thank you. And don't worry about having missed it...if I remember correctly, you were going through a period of sadness and upheaval yourself at the time. I'm so glad you and Frank have both come out of your respective hospitalisations so well, and I pray that Papa regains more of his strength every day.
(no subject) - desdemonaspace - May. 26th, 2007 01:32 pm (UTC) - Expand
( 30 Speak Like A Child — Shout To The Top )

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