“Do not be surprised if the person you turn to for help catches your tears and prepares a wonderful remedy. Release your tears, as long as it feels good to do so.” Peter van Oosterum
I am sorry for going completely silent on my friend Jeannette. If My post on ‘Falling in Love in Israel’ has been of any value in this site, I owe it to all of you. I am writing this post on a request of a mother whose daughter is a victim of Eating Disorder.
Below is her request:
Dear Maha, I am so sorry for your loss. البقية في حياتك
أعزيكي في وفاة المرحومة والبقية في حياتك. (This means, my condolences on the death of the departed). الحب يا عزيزي I would like to make a request that you do a post on what you told me about Jeanette’s funeral. Me and my husband were both deeply touched. I want to share this with my daughter who’s inpatient at the Eating Disorder Unit in London. This will be your present to me and my family. والله يرعاكم
How can I refuse such a request? I am deeply touched. والله يحفظكم .
To all the readers and friends please accept my sincere gratitude for your unconditional support during Jeanette’s illness. Your inquiries let me know how much you cared. I looked forward to your comments and Jeannette loved all your comments. Thank you for making my friend’s last days so special.
We never need to be or feel alone in this world, but it’s up to us to create and allow opportunities to be together, enjoy each other, and be there for each other. It’s up to us to make our relationships priorities.
Jeanette was diagnosed with Liver Cancer, there was small cell carcinoma and it was spreading in her liver. This news reached her on 30th May and she left our world on 22nd June 2014, a day before my Birthday.
My friend was born in leafy Surrey and she was buried in the same beautiful County on 25th June 2014 at the Weybridge Cemetery.
God Gives you only the Present
Moment by Moment.
How my Friend Honored me in Her Death
A true friend is someone who always listens and is genuinely interested in the good and bad, and someone who calls or writes just to say hello. (Kimberly McCarthy)
I am a Muslim and Jeanette a Jewish. Before she died, I wrote a blog post for her.
I wanted her to know how I felt and how much she meant to me. I shared this with her on 26th May 2014 and asked her what changes I should make. She said: “I am humbled and honored to read your blog post. Don’t change a word! May I send it to my daughters and husband?”
Share the truth in your heart, without the fear of misunderstandings. (Ricardo Marques)
On 4th June 2014 she sent me a message: “Saw the oncologist today. I only have a couple of months. I am not going to have any treatment. You can come whenever you want. Much Love. Jeannette.”
So from 4th June onwards I visited her every other day. All I know is that it’s integral that we show people who we truly are, allow ourselves to know them in return, and then remind each other through our actions that we care. Because the time that you spend with a friend is never lost for it forever lives on in you.
Don’t let your own stuff get in the way. The ego is powerful. (Sabrina Toffey)
My last visit to my Friend was on 16th June 2014. I visited her flat with our dear friend Ailsa Moore.
Memories of Last Few Days
Always be there, even in silence. (Nerrisa Nam)
15th June 2014, Sunday 3:30pm
I visit Jeannette and it’s Fathers Day. Ibi, Jeannette’s Daughter is taking her sons to the cinema. Jeannette said to me “I just spent my life Nadia, I don’t know how, but I spent it, I looked forward to retirement age and developing myself more, but it’s not meant to be.” I said to Jeannette “world measures our success on the basis of what we have achieved in this life, i.e. our merits, university degrees, how much money we make, how we climb the corporate ladder and how stable is our pension scheme, but world forgets mothers who sacrifice everything to be great mothers and raise children who then contribute to our society with good values and ethics. You became a mother and do you know when you become a mother God puts Paradise under your feet.”
A true friend is someone you feel as comfortable with as you do when you are by yourself. No illusions, no holding back. (Liz McConomy)
Jeannette knew the process of encounter and engagement with cultures. She always respected my faith and my beliefs. She said “Nadia no religion is bad, no faith preaches hatred, it’s us people who corrupt and change the basic message of peace and goodness.”
On the same evening, I said to Jeannette “Not fair, I thought I was going to go before you, but you beat me” She said “True, I thought I was going to see you to your end, Oh Nadia how we thought every winter was your last winter.”
16th June 2014– Last Visit
“Call upon Allah or call upon the Rahman; whichever you call upon, to HU belongs the most beautiful names.
…”In reality there is nothing in existence but His names…”
Ailsa and I visit Jeannette, we had no idea this was our last visit. She looked so frail and tired but then all of a sudden her face lit up. We discussed her favorite topic, Politics. She had kept up to date with current turmoil in the world and the politics of mass murder being exercised in countries across the world. She expressed her sorrow on Palestine and how sad she was over the Israeli action on West Bank. She then went through the whole Islamic period from Abbasid to Ottoman to the current governments of Middle East and Asia. What amused me deeply was her comment on Bashar-al-Assad of Syria “He is the best of the meanest lot, I am surprised how Bashar al-Assad didn’t score 99.9% of the votes in elections, with Putin as His right man, I was expecting him to score full landslide victory”.
We were discussing foreign policy when I sneezed and Jeannette said ‘Alhamdulilah’. We all looked at her in surprise. She said Nadia that’s how you say it in Arabic right?.
She surprised me further,
“Nadia, In Arabic God is Raheem, right, the most Merciful one”?
AR-RAHIM in Arabic means The All-Merciful
….And ever is He, Rahim to those who believe in their essential reality” (Qur’an 33:43)
She then looked outside at the vast blue sky and the lush green garden overlooking the Basingstoke Canal and said “Al-hamdu lillahi rabbil ‘alamin الحمد لله ربّ العالمين”
“Nadia this is the the first verse of the opening chapter of the Qur’an, right?”
This verse means ‘Special Praise be to Allah, the Sustainer of the creation.’ It was then a time to say Goodbye, I never knew this was the last time, I was going to see my friend, if I knew then I would have frozen the time, I would have asked the mother nature to come to stand still.
Accept the person as they are, as an individual, without conditions. Also, as important as it is for you to be there for them, sometimes you have to be willing to let them be there for you. (Casey Kimes)
Time Becomes Shorter and Shorter
Guide each other in times of need with your honest opinions. (Ashna Singh)
17th June: She collapsed and was taken to local A&E unit to St Peters Hospital in Chertsey.
At Jeannette’s request, her Daughter Ibi kept me updated on her condition.
Wednesday 18th June 2014: She was moved to Aspen ward in Chertsey. Jeannette was happy to cheat death on 16th June 2014 and she said to Ibi, “Tell Nadia, I am going to get well and live”.
Thursday 19th June: She called me at 10:30pm and told me that she had come home to spend her last few hours/days at home. She said “Nadia, you have to let go of me, I love you very much but this is a final Goodbye.You will come to my funeral won’t you?”.
After our Telephone conversation, she cried to her husband and said that she wanted to go to Mosque with me and pray with me at the Woking Shah Jahan Mosque.
Angels came and Took Jeannette with them on 22nd June 2014.
Jeannette left two requests regarding her funeral.
No. 1: I if I would do her Eulogy/Hesped and share some parts from my blog post ‘Falling in Love in Israel’ at the funeral.
No. 2: She wanted a Jewish Funeral verse to be translated into Arabic and read at the funeral.
So I wrote her Hesped/Eulogy but could not bring myself to read it and on the eve of 24th June I prayed to God to send someone who will read Eulogy on my behalf and would do justice to my Friend’s memory, and God sent our dear Friend Mary Holdstock.
25th June RIP Jeannette- We say Good Bye, Earth to Earth Dust to Dust
A very strange day, unlike other typical British Funeral Days, where Black Umbrellas come out and you battle high winds, pelting rain and dark grey skies.
The sun was shinning bright, a cool breeze was blowing, air smelled sweet, birds were singing, air was tinged with the music of Chinese Wind chimes, which were hanging on the trees nearby and were swaying to the tune of the summer breeze. It was a beautiful peaceful day in every way.
Inside the Chapel, Mary Holdstock read the Eulogy in her very English and very Angelic voice and touched everyone’s hearts.
Mary Holdstock, I will forever be indebted to you for your kindness. Words fail me when it comes to expressing my gratitude. This was the most important thing of my life and you helped me, so Thank you from bottom of my heart and God Bless you forever.
Hesped/Eulogy for Jeannette Herzberg
Good Afternoon, My Name is Nadia Shabir and I am a friend of Jeannette Herzberg.
A blessed Daughter, Devoted Wife, A Great Mother and a greater Grandmother and a Beautiful soul and A Friend of the universe- This is How I would describe Jeannette.
Words fail us when it comes to giving full description of Jeannette. She was a lady of many traits and many talents. She had that subtle power, with which only a few people are trusted, but which is invariably felt by others.
I’m sure each and every one of you heretoday has something to share on how Jeannette touched your life, whether it was through herself, or through her husband, daughters or friends. Your presence here is important, for her family, because it is the memory of the friends who stood by them during this time that will be a source of strength and consolation to them later on, during those inevitable moments of grief and emptiness.
I can only speak for myself and some of my friends, but when I think of how she touched our lives, the first word that comes to mind is “surreal”.
I wrote a blog post on Jeanette on 26th May 2014, Falling in Love in Israel. I just wanted to thank her for being such a great friend to me. I am optimistic and I refused to believe that any illness could take Jeanette’s life. I wanted to tell Jeannette that universe is with her and she will stay with us for a long time to come. My opening lines from the post were: “Imagine coming across someone who is intellectually gifted, knows world history, all the dates, different cultures, all faiths and uses Arabic words as if she’s a native Arabic speaker, but she’s not a Muslim, nor a Christian but from Jewish faith and lives in Israel and has a vast array of knowledge to her disposal. The post was for Jeannette’s Eyes only, but she wanted to share it with her daughters and her husband.”
I first met Jeanette in 2009 at our local Amnesty meeting. Our good friend Ailsa Moore often tells me how everyone would look up to Jeanette for the answers to difficult Questions. Jeanette was a fluent thinker, she used advanced vocabulary, processed everything to a greater extent, generalized world problems skilfully, had a sharp memory, comprehended everything easily, was a natural learner who Questioned nearly everything and took great pleasure in engaging in intellectual debates.
We became friends and then we became good friends and then she became a soul friend, companion and my savior. An eminent intellectually gifted lady, whose gifts of abstract word knowledge, and abstract reasoning surprised many of us. She influenced many in our local Amnesty group and in doing so she changed many opinions. She brought a new light, a new dimension to our world.
I would always say to Jeannette, you have to come and visit me in Pakistan one day. I don’t think, I’ll ever be able to visit you in Israel, and she would say, ‘True, you’re never going to get through the border control.’ It was a miracle that last year I got lucky enough to go to Jerusalem. Jeanette and her husband Ronnie drove all the way from Tel Aviv to see me. She took me out for Dinner to American Colony Hotel. That glorious night in the presence of Jeannette and Ronnie, I came to learn that Love is also about being with a treasured friend and friends are also a passage to good health and wellness. Friend’s love heals you and gives you courage to live. A treasured friend’s love is kind, compassionate, tolerant, forgiving, patient, trusting, faithful, generous, accepting and peaceful. Last week, on Monday, 16th June, Jeannette said to me Nadia that was such a good evening and I agree it was such a good evening. I treasure every single one of those moments spent in her company. I lived my dream to visit Jerusalem and to see my friend in her homeland.
Very rarely you’ll come across a woman such as Jeanette, who exhibited such intellect and a quality of greatness which is submission to changing circumstances and putting others before her own needs. Even struck down by illness she inspired us and empowered us. In her last days, she kept her old sense of humor and bought many smiles to our faces. I remember how on Sunday 15th June, when Ronnie went to kitchen to get her some water, ‘She said, Oh Nadia, I really Love this Man’. We thought she would have more time; some of us thought and hoped she would hold on until a cure was found. But she was in a hurry to leave. I don’t think any illness could have ever defeated her. In fact, she told her illness that she was not going to suffer any more; instead she was going to leave in dignity and on her terms.
A disciplined and devoted mother- She was to her children, grand children and extended family and friends, truly, “emi morati” our mother our teacher. Great but there for everyone in the moment. We loved her because she was always herself. She befriended people not caring about their look, but about deeper things. She saw this because this was her mida, her characteristic also; to be oneself, to be real.
I would like to share a Testimony of a Great Love with all of you-
For Days Angels were coaxing Jeanette, cajoling her, bribing her to come with them to a far away place. But Jeannette refused to listen to them, she told Angels to come back later. She told Angels, that they have to wait because she’s waiting for a special person, a piece of her heart to come and see her.Her other parts Ibi and Ronnie were with her like her shadow. So she made Angels wait on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, till her love, her own angel came to see her. She knew she had to go, but how could she have left the world without looking into the eyes of her soulful daughter Dana and assuring her again that she loved her and will be carrying a part of her with her to the next world? This is truly an amazing testimony of a love of a great mother. Deep down many of us knew that Jeannette would never leave this world without saying all her Good Byes. In my life, I’ve never seen such a flight from the world, with such strength and such dignity and never seen such a deep and sacred love. This love was in her heart, in depths of her heart for those she truly loved.
We are all grieving today for we all lost a great Person. Today with her gone our universe is emptier, less colorful, less deep, and less intellectual. It is our job to take all she gave us and continue her work of widening and deepening, of inspiring, of questioning and illuminating, of challenging and supporting each other, of serving and loving. But I know wherever she is now she’s happy and contented with what she left us and left her family, a beautiful legacy. You don’t have to look far when you think of Jeanette, if you want to know where her abode is, look in your heart and she’s there, look outside into nature and she’s there and look at her daughters and her beautiful Grand Children and in each and every one of them, you’ll see a living Jeannette.
We Walk in Silence
The verse below from the Jewish scripture was translated by a Sheikh in Arabic and as the Rabbi played the verse, we all walked behind the casket to the cemetery to my friend’s resting place.
God full of mercy who dwells on high
Grant perfect rest on the wings of Your Divine Presence
In the lofty heights of the holy and pure
who shine as the brightness of the heavens
to the soul of who has gone to her eternal rest
as, without making a formal vow,
I pledge to give charity in memory of her soul.
Her resting place shall be in the Garden of Eden.
Therefore, the Master of mercy will care for her
under the protection of His wings for all time
And bind her soul in the bond of everlasting life.
God is her inheritance and she will rest in peace
and let us say Amen.
Arabic Translation by Sheikh with Pictures of Jeannette on YouTube
You’re in My Heart Forever
“All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.” ~Havelock Ellis
All I know is that she’ll always live in my heart. Every where I go I carry her with me. I will always remember her beautiful smile, that special love she had for me and I will never ever forget a woman who told me, you’re perfect as you are, don’t change a thing about yourself. All I know is whatever God does, God does for best. Whenever Jeannette got ill, I would say to Allah not to send the Angels to take her away, I would always say to Allah, I am not ready to let her go, I will miss her, Please tell Angels not to come. Jeannette would say to me, God listened to your prayer Nadia and here I am. This time, Jeannette wanted the angels to come, So I said to Allah to do the best by my Friend and Indeed Allah did. She’s now in a better place then she ever was before.
27th June 2014- I visit Shah Jahan Mosque
On Friday, two days after the funeral, I visited Shah Jahan Mosque and I sat there in silence. After the prayer, I said to Allah, my friend wanted to come here, but you had other plans. So here I am today and you know what’s in my heart, have Mercy on all of us. I hope one day if my Lord wills we will be reunited in Spirit.