On October 6th 2002 Tibbe was buried at the "Begraafplaats Crooswijk" in Rotterdam.

It was a beautiful ceremony. We are sorry that not all of you could be present. With our families and closest friends there were about 100 people. When we would have invited everyone, there would have been 300, and that would have been to many.

Prior to the funeral we have read the following text (in Dutch,  of course).



"Just give these loving arms a try,

And have a little faith in me"

(Have a little faith in me - John Hiatt, 
Bring the family, 1987)

Dear all,

We had a lot of faith in Tibbe. That's why we sent him into the world with these words. The beautiful song by John Hiatt always has had special meaning to us. It was always our song, that we played for each other and then we held each other tight. We had so much faith in each other that we dared to have a child. And when we found out that this child would have many problems, we still had faith in this child and took it into our loving arms. With the lyrics on his birth-card we called upon all of you to do the same. And you did: Tibbe has found a place in all of your hearts, in spite of the bizarre circumstances under which he has lived his life. 

Tibbe's story is too short, only 101 days long. But as a matter of fact, Tibbe's story started already about a year ago, when we went on holidays in the US. It was a vacation full of music (especially John Hiatt's), southern food, impressions, but most of all a vacation of becoming pregnant. On the long drives through the Deep South of the US we imagined names for a baby with every other letter in the alphabet.

In the car we always listened to music, preferably the old bluegrass from the Smokey Mountains. You will hear this music shortly. About a year ago now, when the leaves were starting to fall in the mountains, Tibbe's life started. We came back from vacation and Mirjam was pregnant.

Until Xmas, this was to be our little secret. But of course people could read it from both our foreheads. Looking back at that period, it's a pity that no one could share the carefree happiness about the expected baby with us.

The day before we planned to share the happy news, it appeared  that our 'Frummeltje' had a serious anomaly, an omphalocele. It was uncertain for a long time, whether Frummeltje could stay with us or not. But eventually his chances appeared to be good, so we did not hold back. A baby carriage, a nursery, prenatal excercises, we did everything we had to do to prepare for a baby.

Tibbe has shown incredible zest for life and willpower during all of the 101 days of his life. He has overcome many setbacks. His omphalocele, that strange belly of his, had healed almost completely. He has fought innumerable infections and experienced many respiratory problems. In spite of this he kept on developing. He grabbed, grasped, laughed, looked around with his beautiful eyes.

Tibbe enjoyed listening, hours we, and Mirjam especially, talked to and sang for him. Ronald played crazy games with Tibbe. He continued to discover the world. His blue cuddly fish and Norwegian moose became his biggest friends. Firstly he did just look at them, later on he grabbed and caressed them. The flying cows and pigs made him laugh. And when you drummed the bed with your fingers he roared with laughter.

The doctors and nurses thought Tibbe was quite a character. He always made perfectly clear when things were not going his way, e.g. when he had to have an injection. When the doctor inserted a bladder catheter, he almost got splattered. "Way to go Tibbe, we said, let him have it." Tibbe was a fighter.

Tibbe has given up the fight last Wednesday. We could hold him firmly for a while and tell hime: "Let go, dear little one, let go, you did your best. If you cannot fight anymore, you don't have to. We love you!"


"Go to sleep, go to sleep, go to sleep, you little baby,

When you wake, get some cake and ride them pretty little horses”

(Whole heap of little horses - Patty Griffin, 
Down the old plank road - Chieftains, 2002)



When our friend Mark died two years ago, his mother had the incredible courage to think whether something useful, something good, could be said about the loss of her son. She ended up with saying that she had seen the power and value of friendship. We thought that was beautiful, but we did not really understand what she meant. Now we do.

Suzanne wrote about this: "Sometimes, all of a sudden, your world becomes very small, although you wanted to make it as big as possible." For almost 10 months our world was very small, and it had to be. The only reason this was possible is that everyone, litterally everyone, has done their utmost to go easy on us and help us. It was like everyone formed a circle around us, to enable us to do just those things we had to do. That is the power of friendship.

In the days following Tibbe's birth we received a enormous number of postcards, E-mails, flowers and gifts. Tibbe has been spoilt rotten! Some of Tibbe's favourite cuddly toys will stay with him, others stay with us. But Tibbe got so many cuddly friends, that we have decided to give some of them away. All people with little children and those pregnant will receive one of Tibbe's cuddly friends shortly.

The postcards have decorated our home for almost two months. Becaused we enjoyed the postcards and E-mails so much that we asked you to bring another card today.  Tibbe is lying there, in a wide circle of love and attention, and that is exactly how we have felt for the past three months. We thank you for that.

But, as a colleague of Mirjam always tells young parents: "This is just the beginning." That also holds for your attention for us. The time ahead of us will be more difficult than ever, and we hope that we will continue to feel your care and attention. We have seen at close quarters that the moment everybody thinks that all is well again, the grief is still growing. You can't continue your life, you cannot go back to the life you had, because you wanted to enrich it.

We are going to bury Tibbe in a few moments. We are extremely glad that he will lie so close to Isabel, Eveline and Francis' beautiful girl. That way, our little man, can sleep close to the prettiest girl in Rotterdam. At Tibbe's grave we will launch a balloon and read the poem that is on the mourning card.

We will then stay with Tibbe and will not return in this room. You can all drink coffee here together. We don't want you to queue up in order to condole us, because that feels as a closing to us. And, as we said earlier: This is just the beginning. In the weeks, we would love to hear what are your thoughts on this ceremony. And we hope that we can continue to count on your support and care in the weeks, months, maybe years to come.

Now we are going to listen to another lovely song. Tibbe knew it already when he was in the womb. Next to Tibbe's bed, we have made our own lyrics to it. Before we closed Tibbe's basket, we sang it to him one last time.


“Go to sleep, little Tibbe

Go to sleep, little Tibbe

Mummy and Daddy, they love you so much, so

Go to sleep, little Tibbe”


“Go to sleep little babe,

Go to sleep little babe,”  

(Didn't leave nobody but the baby -  Gillian Welch, Alison Krauss & Emmylou Harris, 
O Brother where art thou?- Soundtrack, 2000)


Ronald Dekker and Mirjam Kalverda