Imagine waking one morning to hear the news that your children are missing. Suddenly. Without a trace. No one knows where they are. For two weeks you cling to a thread of hope that your little boys are unharmed and waiting to be found. Waiting for you to bring them home. The only thing you can think of is to hold them in your arms again, keep them safe for ever more. Your community goes out en masse to help with searches of anywhere the police think the boys may be. Complete strangers unite to scour woody terrain for any clues of life. The police and military are out in force to bring your boys home to you. Hundreds of thousands of unknown faces say prayers each night, hoping that their minuscule action plays some part helping in the safe return of two young boys to their mother. As days go by hope turns to dread. Everyone thinks it but daren’t say it.
Two weeks of an agony that no mother should ever feel. A fortnight of frantic worry. A fortnight of panic. Two weeks of emptiness.Two weeks of hope. Hope suddenly extinguished on a Sunday afternoon as two small bodies are found by a passerby.
The mayor of Zeist described the family’s grief as immeasurable. Immeasurable. An end so unspeakable. The emptiness of a mother without her children. Immeasurable. The tears for her lost children. Immeasurable.
I don’t think there is a parent in the Netherlands who has not been touched in some way by the family drama that has unfolded over the last twenty days. It is incomprehensible. It is sickening. It is heartbreaking. There are no words.
The family of brothers Ruben (9) and Julian (7) do not want a “stille tocht” (silent procession) to mark the loss of the boys but recognising that so many would like an outlet for their feelings and so many want to pay tribute to two lives cut so short, they have asked people to light candles and place them in their windows between 7pm and 8pm on Sunday 26th May. There is also a national condolence register available online.
There are messages of ‘sterkte’ coming in from around the country for Iris, the mother of these precious boys and the rest of their family, but that doesn’t convey how we all feel. Wishing her strength and courage and our deepest sympathy doesn’t touch the surface of our feelings. As parents, we know there are no words for a mother who has lost her reason for being. For a mother whose grief is immeasurable now, and for all time. I pray she learns how to put one foot in front of the other again, finds a way to live with her loss and hold memories of her boys in her heart.
May Julian and Ruben rest in peace.