Like so many, I am mourning the senseless death of the 298 passengers and crew of flight MH17. 192 of the victims were Dutch, and perhaps that’s why it hits me even harder – because I know people who knew them. I came across this moving blog post by Alexandra van Stempvoort today, and got her permission to translate it into English. This is the original post in Dutch. The translation is below.
I don’t know you, and yet you’re in my thoughts…
Yesterday you were still here. You were a girlfriend, grandpa, mom, classmate, neighbor, colleague, the guy at the checkout, the cute couple down the street. Yesterday your loved ones waved goodbye to you at the airport. You were a vacationer on your way to sun, sea, and sand, an exchange student on your way to your family, a professor on your way to a conference.
Today you are a victim. A victim of a war that had nothing to do with you. A victim of violence as senseless as trying to empty the ocean with a thimble.
I don’t know you, and yet you are continually in my thoughts. Thoughts of vacation feel selfish when I think of the sorrow of the people who said goodbye to you yesterday. The people who hoped you would come back safe. Who still hope they will wake up from this nightmare.
I keep thinking of you. How you got on the plane yesterday morning, filled with excitement and on your way to a tropical destination. The image of a Lonely Planet guide among the wreckage is just one sign of the plans you had: to see the world, to discover a beautiful country. I close my eyes, and accompany you in my thoughts. Past passport control, luggage check in, towards the gate, and looking for your seat on the plane. I don’t have the courage to go further. I can’t handle the idea of your thoughts when the plane that was supposed to transport safely suddenly fell from the sky. I hope you weren’t aware of it, but I fear the worst.
I don’t know you. For me, too, you are a nameless victim of senseless violence. Yet my heart feels heavy. It feels heavy because I know I can’t possibly imagine what it would be like if you were my lover, my mom, my grandpa, my girlfriend, or my colleague. I don’t know you, yet you are constantly in my thoughts. You, your loved ones, and all those who mourn you.
Rest in peace, dear stranger. My heart and thoughts are with those who now have to miss you, and those who can in some way provide comfort, because you could have been my neighbor.
(written by Alexandra van Stempvoort, translated by me)