I want to thank all of you for your lovely, kind, warm notes.  I was overwhelmed when I opened my mailbox Thursday morning.  My Oma was my hero, and I am thrilled she touched so many of your lives as well (Goodbye Oma).

Every culture has their own way to say goodbye.  And every family brings their own traditions to this final goodbye.  We’ve had a lot of goodbye’s this past year (A Last Goodbye; Tante Marianne), and our family has created its own tradition.

After the actual ceremony/mass, the eulogy, and the beautiful music, the grandchildren and great-grandchildren drew their last goodbyes on Oma’s “kist” or coffin.  I am not sure if it’s in all of Holland, or only in my part, but the kist is just a simple wooden box.  The same one is used for saying goodbye at the wake, at the funeral and then transported to the crematorium for the final step.

My family draws on the coffin.  There are lots of hearts, flowers, inside jokes and love.  Lots & lots & lots of love.  It seemed strange and awkward to me at first.  I worried about my children and how they would react, how it would make them feel.

I needn’t have worried. My children, my sisters children, grabbed this opportunity to say goodbye, their way, with both hands.  They drew from their hearts, all of them.  The big, surly teenagers.  The little ones barely able to hold a pen, the shy giggly girls, they all expressed their love for Oma. It was a truly beautiful way to say goodbye.

We all stayed near the coffin.  Talking, sharing memories, taking turns with the green, or the blue, or the red pen, taking turns saying what was deepest in our hearts.  At first I cried.  I cried to see Luuk write his favorite memory of Oma, it was mine too.  And then, as everyone shared & drew, I saw over and over that I wasn’t alone.  My memories were shared by my cousins, and niece & nephew, and my cousins children.  A warm happy, fuzzy feeling came over me.  I was not alone.  My Oma had given me a huge family to always help me remember her.

We all accompanied the kist to the waiting car, our love and flowers staying with her to the very end.  She did not leave alone, we were all with her every step of the way, surrounding her with our love.  Even now I still feel her.  I do still feel sad some moments, but mostly I have happy memories and I feel so incredibly lucky to have had her, and to still have her live on in my family, my children, my sisters children and my cousins children. IMG_6217 copy