A good three weeks have passed since Mārtiņš’ birthday, but the warmth we have received, the closeness we have experienced in our grief and the awareness that he was and will remain a great gift for many of us fills us with deep gratitude.
Mārtiņš’ death on April 23 came unexpectedly quickly for us. We had hoped for a little more time together. Looking back, we understand that he had been preparing inwardly for his departure for some time. A week before his death, we (Mārtiņš, Tabita and Toms) visited the Limbiķi Cemetery, where a section is reserved for the deceased residents of the “Iļģi” social care centre and where Mārtiņš also wanted to be buried. Mārtiņš told us about his wish for a statue of Jesus to be erected here in this forlorn part of the cemetery, which would be dedicated to the people buried there. He did not go into detail and did not give any specific guidance. Instead, he left the realisation of his wish to us.
After the cemetery, we drove a few kilometres further to the “Purviči” farmstead. There he introduced us to Andris Leimants and his whimsical world, which is open to the public for seminars and workshops as well as recreation for families and other groups. He has created barefoot paths, imaginative labyrinths and sculptures, and a beautifully designed courtyard for gatherings – all made of things that other people throw away.
At Mārtiņš’ funeral on May 1, saying goodbye was very difficult due to Covid-19 regulations. But we thankfully found other ways of achieving a sense of togetherness. We were also helped by the thought of gathering once again at the Limbiķi Cemetery at the end of the summer for Mārtiņš’ birthday.
Despite its bleakness, this cemetery has grown on us. Ideas about the shape and appearance of the sculpture have become more concrete in the past few months. A day before Mārtiņš’ birthday, the three of us, together with Mārtiņš’ friends Olaf, Harald and Jürgen, drove to the Pedvāle Art Park and spoke with sculptor Ojārs Feldbergs, who had already agreed to make the sculpture. During our conversation, he told us about his own thoughts regarding the project. The figure of Jesus will be carved into a fieldstone two metres high and 1.60 metre wide and will symbolically connect heaven and earth. He will appear to step towards us, and His open hands will be marked by his wounds. We will soon send out more detailed information about the project and the state of funding.
Like the previous days, the morning of August 27 was grey and rainy, but then the clouds dispersed and we enjoyed a warm, sunny summer day. About 100 people gathered at the cemetery, and Mārtiņš’ grave was covered with flowers. Accompanied by a violin, two cellos and an accordion, we celebrated a special service led by Mārtiņš’ friend and pastor Jürgen Philipps. He spoke with great sensitivity about the things that had been essential to Mārtiņš. You can find the address in Latvian and German on the website https://martins.urdze.lv.
Afterwards, we enjoyed a big birthday cake in the cemetery. Also, everyone who wanted could take a just-published booklet of recipes that had been compiled by the Sempre project. The booklet is dedicated to Mārtiņš, its initiator.
After lingering at the cemetery, we again drove to “Purviči”, because there could be no better place for this birthday celebration. We were welcomed by Leimants’ hospitality, plus the special atmosphere of his place and a sumptuous and beautifully prepared dinner. Just a few steps away, a huge field of dahlias was in full bloom.
Our heartfelt thanks to all who worked so hard to make this celebration a reality! Many thanks as well to all who took part in it!
On the Sunday after Mārtiņš’ birthday, Gita led the service at the Cross Church. A surprise awaited us there: Romka, a resident of “Ilgi”, had prepared a rap song, which he dedicated to Mārtiņš:
Mārtiņš, how are you? Mārtiņš, you are my friend. Mārtiņš, you are our friend. Mārtiņš, you’ll always stay with us.
Listen for yourself!
Gita, Tabita, Toms