Dearest Denny, Gigi, and Andrey,
You’re right, Denny, in what you wrote on your mum’s beautiful tribute page. Words aren’t enough, they don’t fit and mean what they need to, in times like these…when I want to reach out and offer some small measure of comfort, but am instead struggling, too, to squeeze this wordless, silent fog of sadness into some form of conventional sentence.
I have only known Maria relatively briefly, for these past 8 years, with long periods inbetween without seeing each other, yet I remember clear as day the very first moment I met her in the Coghill and Beery offices, and she introduced herself. I remember the first car ride down the M40 to deliver our Tesco workshop, coming by your house early in the morning to pick her up. Watching her deliver, so effortlessly, connecting ideas and people seamlessly, with such unbridled intelligence, force of character, and great charm. In the greatest of admiration then, and still now, through these last painful years and months, even weeks, when we last exchanged text messages, when she was not feeling well enough to deliver the talk she had committed to, when we met at Mosimann’s to rekindle work talk when she explained the foundation of ULead to me, the firm hopes we both held of seizing the pleasure of working together again… that iron determination, that immense capability, that rich sense of humour, subtlety and tact, and profound compassion and care for everyone around her, yes, that was your mum for me. But you know that already – she is your mum! And your wife! How much more you must have seen that, every day, and therefore must you be feeling that much more grief at your loss.
In the face of that awful finality, which awaits us all one way or the other… we celebrate, or rather, I mustn’t presume; I celebrate, I would like to offer some small but heartfelt witness of the greatness that was Maria, the life that she was, that she made and that she led, and which, despite the Pain of her physical absence, lives on, every single day that the three of you still live, and the many, many of us who still live, and remember her and hold her in our thoughts and hearts with admiration, affection, and gratitude. She has given me so much inspiration in our relatively brief friendship, and I will forever be glad that I could have her as my friend.
I cannot tell you how much it meant to Philipp and me that Andrey, you and Maria made it to join us on the 21st of March. That radiance, strength, watching both of you dance to the band’s music, seeing her deep in conversation with our other friends, or just quietly, contentedly taking in the atmosphere of it all. I know what an effort it must have been for her to come, and her smile! I drank in the sight of it all evening, and it will be how I will hold her in my memory.
I leave you with a few mementos from that evening, in the hope that it will come to bring you some joy and solace, too, after the darkness has passed.
With love and my deepest condolences,