A Great Loss

Twenty-five years ago I went to Germany for fieldwork during my Ph.D. I was based in a small university town Marburg, and very soon I discovered there were two other Romanian girls studying there. One of them became a very good friend: we were both passionate about literature (both German and English) and were both in very new, very long-distance relationships that we weren’t entirely sure about. I had concerns about my boyfriend’s character, while she was more concerned about the age difference (she was three years older than him). We both ended up marrying our sweethearts: my fears were well founded, hers not at all.

Csaba was Romanian of Hungarian origin. He ended up embarking on business studies in Marburg himself, so as to be with my friend, although he spoke hardly any German at the time. He had been an elite athlete previously and we would go running in the woods together, and he also introduced me to Tai Chi. He was full of energy and humour, utterly devoted to my friend, sending her tapes with his voice whispering sweet nothings in her ear whenever they were apart.

They returned to Romania after their studies, had children about the same time as I did. I could think of no better people to ask to be godparents to my second son, even though I knew we were going to be hundreds of miles away.

Whenever we went to Romania, we visited them and our boys became good friends, despite the mix of five languages and cultures that they were experiencing between them.

Their older son graduated from secondary school this year, just like mine did, and planned to study medicine. They were justifiably proud of him, and trying to decide if he should study in Romania or Germany.

Early this morning, my friend sent me a message that Csaba died of Covid. It is hard to believe that a man like this, the heart and soul of every party, but also the most thoughtful and loving husband, father, godfather and friend, could just be snuffed out like that. All the adventures and visits and joint ventures we had planned… All the advice and serenity that his sons will never get a chance to experience… All the love and support that my friend is now left without…

I have no words. Other than: make the most of your life and your friendships.

Farewell to thee! but not farewell

To all my fondest thoughts of thee:

Within my heart they still shall dwell;

And they shall cheer and comfort me. 

Anne Brontë

33 thoughts on “A Great Loss”

  1. Terribly sorry. Too many of my friends, including some close ones, are having serious troubles…it comes with age, of course, but it’s no more welcome for that.

  2. How terribly sad for his family, his friends like you…it shows us we have to make the most of every moment. And do all we can to avoid Covid and the spread of it – it can take anyone.
    Thinking of you Marina; take care and keep those good memories close. Xxx

  3. I am more sorry than I can ever say. My heart goes out to you completely. And if there is anything, anything at all I can do, please only say. Sending you so much love. Jenny

  4. Oh, Marina, this is so terribly sad for all involved. We all still need to stay safe the best way we can, as Covid is still dangerous. It must be hard for you to be so far away from your friend, but she’ll know you’re there for her. Thinking of you and sending a virtual hug xx

  5. What a tragedy and terrible loss of someone so decent, kind and caring. My heart goes out to you and the family.

  6. This is such a beautiful tribute to your friends, Marina – full of warmth for Csaba as a person and the terrible pain of his loss. I’m so sorry that this happened – it’s so desperately sad, and a salutary reminder to all of us of the fragility of life. Sending much love and strength to you and the boys during this awful time. My heart goes out to you… Xx

  7. So sorry to hear this, Marina Sofia. It’s a sad reminder that behind every statistic is real pain and loss. I hope you will find in time that your happy memories of Csaba provide you with some comfort.

  8. It’s heartbreaking. Life can be so unfair. I can’t imagine what she’s going through. Or you and your sons. And her sons, of course. I hope he didn’t suffer long.

  9. So sorry about this news. Of course it’s your friend’s family who are bearing the brunt of this, but you too must be feeling so very bereft. What a lovely tribute you have written.

  10. I remember the photo of the four boys that you published when you came back from that trip to Romania. It was a happy meeting-up for you and I’m sorry you will never have that again, or never in the same way. These are going to be hard times for your friend and her family.

  11. Words always fall short at times like these, but I hope it is some comfort to your friend, her family, and you and your sons that strangers around the world offer sympathy and caring to all of you.

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