Saturday, July 2, 2011

Old Photographs

Today, July 2, 2011, my aunt Mariette Zonnenberg passed away. This post was going to sum up my past week in Wuhu, what my daily routine has been, etc. but it's so hard after hearing this news to go back to such a light topic.

When Oma asked me to write a little something for Mariette, I could not think of what to say. I have seen Mariette in person only a handful of times in the short time in which our lives overlapped. It’s hard to truly know a person when, for most of our shared time on this earth, an entire country and ocean separates us. And, I’m embarrassed to say, that I got distracted with my current endeavor in China and let Oma’s request temporarily slip my mind.

I learned of Mariette’s passing through, of all things, Facebook. Her sons, Daniel and Michael were liking and commenting posts on Mariette’s wall left by friends and loved ones who were saying their final goodbyes. By reading these, I soon discovered that I also had a few things to say.

Like I said only a few moments ago, I cannot say that I knew Mariette well, like a close sibling or a friend, but what I do know about her, I cannot help but admire her for her courage, her strength and her love and kindness.

I know she was devout in her beliefs. Any lesser person might have been frightened in her situation. But through email accounts, I could tell that Mariette was keeping her faith and her family strong and thanked God for every moment she was given.

I know she was a very talented artist. I loved it when Daniel posted pictures of his mother’s paintings. They were always so beautiful and vibrant and full of life. I could tell that a lot of Mariette went into her paintings and it was something she took particular joy in.

And I know she loved her family very, very much. Mariette loved unconditionally. And it was most apparent when she was with her family. Peter, Daniel and Michael were the lights of her life and only something as permanent as death could have torn her away from them after only such a short period of time. But I do not believe that those we love ever truly leave us. And Mariette is still with all of us.

Death does not have to be such a solid divider between us and those who we have lost. So much of us is made by what we learn from those we share even a brief time with on this earth. And it stands to reason that those closest to us shape who we are. And Mariette has touched so many of our lives that she is still here with us, even if we might not see her.

Mariette, though we never had more than a handful of days together, I was lucky to have known you and to call you my aunt. And I know you’re looking down from Heaven on all of us, smiling. Know that you are loved and missed by so many people. And I hope that one day we will meet again.

Love, Nicole.

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