We were shocked last week to hear of the death of the mother of one of my daughters friends from the basis school. She was only 46 and died suddenly of a heart attack, leaving a husband and two teenage sons.
We are a small community and the news travelled very fast - Anita had been a very active volunteer at the basis school for many years, so the school organised a time for those who had known and worked with her to meet the family and offer condolences.
Although the two boys were no longer pupils of the school, there was a room set apart for ex-school friends of the younger son to meet him, and sit with him. The teacher who had known him in the last year at the school was there to offer support and counselling. My daughter was one of the ex pupils who attended this event.
The next day we received an invitation to the funeral, and Jolanda decided she wanted to go. I contacted her current school and arranged that she could have time off to attend, and we went together on the monday morning.
It was her first funeral, and I was so proud of her. In our town, the church is in the next street to our house, and the bell begins to ring a half hour before the service is about to start. We heard the bell, put on our coats and joined the stream of people walking to the church.
There was a big congregation, and the church was full. It was heartwarming to see so many young people, friends of the sons, at the funeral.
Once everyone was in the church, the coffin was brought in, followed by the family.
The service was the traditional catholic form, but there were lovely pieces added by some of the family, which made it a truly personal event. As well as hymns there were two or three lovely modern pieces sung by friends.
Jolanda sat with two of her school mates, and it was only at the end, when the white coffin left the church followed by the boys carrying flowers that she broke down.
The majority of the mourners were leaving the church to walk to the cemetery, following the hearse with the coffin. We decided not to follow them, however, and slipped home to reflect on how lucky we are to have a community who can come together in such a time to show support for a family.
Rest in Peace, Anita.