Our second conversation with the Johan Friso school on the eleventh of June 2009 at 14.00 h
Opa, tante Daphne and I parked our car near your school at the Chico Mendesring. As the times before it was strange for me to see that school. The school you once attended. The school that was totally absent when mamma died: not any teacher or girl-friend or boy-friend were present on mamma’s farewell. The school, where Mr. Van de L., the headmaster, received tante Daphne and me in such a horrible way, when we just needed support on that sixteenth of February 2009. But also the school, where Mrs. Van H. showed emotion and grief for mamma and the three of you. And now we walked again to your school, expecting that Mrs. Van H. would be as kind and sympathizing as she was the time before.
Again we walked through your school towards the same room where we were received the last time. We decided that we wanted to give mamma’s death announcement. So, we handed over the death announcement after we entered.
“Here you are”, I said after we had shaken hands.
Mrs. Van H. opened the announcement in an absent-minded way. “What a special announcement”.
“Yes”, we wanted to do it in a personal way”, tante Daphne said.
“We have done everything ourselves”, opa continued, “and we organized the farewell in a restaurant instead of in a cold crematory-room”.
“And all the people who came were served a high tea, just as Judith would have done. Treating her guests in a hospitable way”, I said, seeing mamma before me when there were guests. She always wanted to spoil her guests, because she liked to receive guests.
Mrs. Van H. looked at the announcement in a silent way. “It’s a beautiful announcement”, she said. Mr. Van de L. didn’t say anything.
A silence fell. Not a silence for the person who died. No an uneasy silence as if we were not so welcome as the time before. Was the face of Mrs. Van H. sympathizing with us the time before, now her face looked masked.
What was exactly what Mirabelle said about mamma
I started to talk about Mirabelle’s complaint about mamma: “Mrs. Van H. I would like to come back at Mirabelle’s complaint about Judith with Mrs. T. What struck me the last time was, that you said Mirabelle’s complaint was especially about William who would have hit her so much, while she is positive about Judith and said Judith didn’t know how she has to do it. There was a difference with the first time, when Judith was still alive and was present on that seventeenth of February. Then you said Mirabelle complained it was especially Judith who hit her so often. Judith was very shocked by it and later it must be very hard for Mirabelle when she discovered that it was her complaint, that made Judith so desperate”.
“No, you have a wrong interpretation”, Mrs. Van H. said in a nearly arrogant way.” I certainly said Mirabelle complained about William as well as about Judith towards Mrs. T.”. She nearly said it angry to me, but recuperated saying: “I can imagine you were mistaken, because you were emotional. And then you may hear only the most negative”. She didn’t say that it must have been hard for Mamma or for Mirabelle later. And now she said that William as well as mamma abused you. Now I heard a third interpretation.
So I felt not convinced, but didn’t say anything more. Especially, because I saw Mrs. Van H. was keeping off the subject. Again an uneasy silence fell. The atmosphere was totally different from the last time. And you may believe it or not, I felt some pity for Mrs. Van H. and then I didn’t realize why. I decided to finish the subject. Only from intuition.
The causal connection between what school said and Mirabelle’s complaint
“Do you see the causal connection between what Mrs. Van H. said to the kidnapper, namely that the protocol is that you can only report a complaint of abuse with Jeugdzorg, when one of the three children would express a complaint’, tante Daphne was saying with stress, waiting some moments, “and what Mirabelle did the other day?”
“It looks like a connection, but it may also be a coincidence”, Mrs. Van H. said and Mr. Van de L. said: “I don’t believe there is a causal connection”.
They said things like that we think there is a causal connection and that we are now in the mood to think things like that. I felt that the situation was totally different from the first time that we spoke with them. Then they were speaking freely about what occurred to them. Now they were defending themselves. They felt attacked by us and especially Mrs. Van H. behaved differently from that first time: she was close-mouthed now, as if someone had been very angry with her and she had to defend herself.
The conversation went on with difficulty. No spontaneous and emotional Mrs. Van H. anymore. And her headmaster was as closed and non-empathetic as that 16th of February 2009, when tante Daphne and I were at school to inform if there were signals of the approaching kidnapping. We had the feeling we were in some kind even dangerous for the two.
“I know from my study that it is good when children change from school, that an educational report is written about the children. You can write about their results at school, but also about their social behavior”, tante Daphne spoke very professionally. “Maybe it is the unique occasion of making note of the kidnapping and the death of their mother. The teachers of the new school of Mirabelle, Lucas and Robin are informed then about the terrible situation of these children.”
Always tante Daphne stressed to us, that it would be very important that school should write this report, because this was a legal occasion to ask attention for your horrible situation. We didn’t think that the kidnapper would say to the new school he kidnapped you before mamma’s death and that the kidnapping and the false accusations were the reasons of mamma’s death.
“Oh, I should like to write such report for the other school with a point of concern”, Mrs. Van H. again said spontaneously.
I recognized the old emotional Mrs. Van H.
But Mr. Van de L. said: “I think it wisely to talk it over with Jeugdzorg. I only want to do that under the direction of Jeugdzorg. Mrs. Van H. looked dejected.
A new proof how powerful Jeugdzorg is. School as well as Boddaert danced attendance on Jeugdzorg. It was a pity that School as well as Boddaert were so afraid of this organization.
“Two of Judith’s girl-friends offered us a website to post messages for Mirabelle, Lucas and Robin. There is also the possibility for pupils of your school to cooperate. It would be very nice if the children could communicate with their friends from the Dutch school. We should like if school wants to join in”, I informed the two.
“How do you see that?”, Mrs. Van H. asked.
“There will be a special page on the website for the pupils of the school, on which they can write”, I said enthusiastically.
“And the website will be called Threelittlebirds”, opa said. “We saw Judith as a beautiful bird, who was flying away. Mirabelle, Lucas and Robin are her little birds.”
“That’s nice”, Mrs. Van H. said and noted this information on a piece of paper. In some way she sounded a bit more cheerful.
“Okay”, Mr. Van de L. broke off Mrs. Van H. “we will talk it over with the rest of the teachers. You can take up contact with us about it.
I was shocked by the unpleasant intervention of Mr. Van de L. He always found a way to break off when there was something positive. He always hesitated to do things himself and wondered if it was allowed. He didn’t risk to undertake things because he was afraid of the responsibility. He didn’t want to be responsible for things ‒ and he was afraid of big bad wolf Jeugdzorg. What a pity he didn’t take the responsibility to allow Mrs. Van H. writing an educational report. What a pity that he didn’t take the risk to let write his pupils messages to you. It would have been so pleasant for you.
Do you still know, that I mention people who were courageous and tried to do things for you? It is so important in these situations. Mr. Van de L. didn’t belong to them. As school had been more courageous, maybe the rest of the Netherlands had reacted, but school didn’t do anything. Kept everything silent. To protect the good reputation of the school, I think.
Mr. Van de L. telephoned with the kidnapper
“Ahum”, the headmaster coughed a little, “I still tried to call with the kidnapper, but he didn’t take the phone. Later he called himself, but it was hard to understand.”
“Oh, it is that American-English, which is not always to understand, because of the different pronunciation”, I said.
“Yes, the conversation was rather short, because of that. I said him, that the children at school made drawings and wrote letters for Mirabelle, Lucas and Robin”, Mr. Van de L. said.
“Well”, the kidnapper said, “Mirabelle is busy writing a letter to the children from her class.
“But up till now, we didn’t see that letter of Mirabelle”, Mr. Van de L. said with contempt.
“Yes, and many children made drawings and wrote letters for Mirabelle, Lucas and Robin”, Mrs. Van H. said with regret in her voice. “For many children their sudden leaving was nearly traumatic. That’s why we proposed that they could write letters and make drawings, which we could send to them. But we didn’t hear anything from them up till now.”
I looked at her. Had the feeling that she would have done more if she was not stopped by her director. Then she would have been to the hospital to say mamma she was a good mum. But she didn’t, and now she saw what happened. I assume she would not think it was you who didn’t want to write or communicate with your schoolfriends, but she didn’t dare to express her thoughts and feelings. No, I had the feeling that in some way she was punished by her open behavior and emotions of the last time we spoke with her. Now we missed that open-minded attitude. She behaved like a robot, governed by her master. Had she been the director or headmaster of the school, maybe school and parents may have reacted more strongly at your kidnapping.
“It is a pity for the children, Mirabelle didn’t write yet. But I’m afraid that Mirabelle doesn’t know her father promised she would write.,” opa said. “I don’t know if he would appreciate she would have still contact with her schoolmates”.
“We have put the drawings and letters in a farewell-box and if the children will come back to the Netherlands, I will give them the box”, Mrs. Van H. said again with disappointment. It was the disappointment of all those children who thought they could communicate with you.
The decorated table and chair
“Do you know”, Mrs. Van H. said, “that the children of Mirabelle’s class decorated her table and chair, because tomorrow it’s her birthday? Table and chair still stand there empty and none of the children will sit on them, because they are hers. They still hope she will come back some day.”
“Oh, how difficult for those children”, tante Daphne said.
“I am positively surprised she was so beloved by her schoolmates”, I said.
My brain projected an image of Mirabelle with all those girl-friends. Every time you were invited by girl-friends. Just like your mother, when she was a little child, mamma always had friends too. It also made me sad, because I realized how much I missed mamma and the three of you and at the same time I was so very proud of mamma and the three of you, because you were missed so very much by others too.
“Mirabelle left her bike at school; it is still there. That bike too has a symbolic function for the children. No one dares to touch it, because it is hers”, Mr. Van de L. said.
“Well, leave it there if it has still that function”, I said.
“After the summer holiday we will take away the bike”, Mr. Van de L. said. “Then the attention for the subject has become less”.
“I think, that Mirabelle would be glad if that bike is given then to someone who needs it. The same would Judith say”, I said with conviction, because I knew for sure mamma and you would say that Mirabelle.
“I’ll do that”, Mr. Van de L. said.
We made the appointment that I would take up contact with Mrs. X. of Jeugdzorg about the educational report and the farewell-box and I should take up contact with Mrs. Van H., when the website “threelittlebirds” would be ready. Then we said good-bye. I think the farewell-box is still with Mrs. Van H., as much later when opa had written the book “Judith” we still had a conversation with school and then Mrs. Van H. was herself again and said that the farewell-box had not got lost because she kept it safely at home. She will wait for you to give you the letters and drawings. I know for sure. Once.