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Widow Marlis remarries her childhood sweetheart

Marlies van Dongen (46) lost her husband and father of two children. Two years ago he boldly approached his childhood sweetheart Royal Westra (46). The love they felt as 13-year-olds is still there. Now they are creating a family with their children.

“I was 38 when my husband Jeroen died after a five-month illness. I am left with two children. ‘I wish you and the children someone good. But not too soon,” he said. At first I wasn’t open to it. I first had to learn to trust life again.

I traveled through New Zealand with my children and many beautiful, chance encounters gave me hope again. I learned to trust my instincts more. When the kids started elementary school, I sought help, including therapy.

‘You have to learn to trust life again’

“My job was to create visuals for brands. I also started doing it for my own life; if I could write my story, what would it look like, how would I like to feel? It brought a lot of positive changes in my life.

Two years ago Roel suddenly flashed into my mind – my boyfriend since I was thirteen. What will he look like? He followed me on social media where I sometimes shared about my life. So he knew. I don’t know what his life was like, but after thirty years I decided to send him a message.

When I opened my email two days later, it contained a long letter. He later told me, “I haven’t opened your message yet and I already feel so much love.” After we’d been texting each other for a month, I wanted to meet him to find out if it was more than nostalgia, so I went to his house in Rosenthal. We talked and that click was still there.

‘Thirty years later, I decided to send him a message’

“When I was ready, he came to me and gave me a kiss. Then I knew. I felt energy and fire and everything fell into place. We went for a walk and passed a castle and an orangery a stone’s throw from his house. My vision was a castle with big trees and an orangery. Being on the board gave me goosebumps.It was like a dream come true.

Now I live with him with my children. Royal is a true father to my children. Opening up to love again was challenging, but I was ready. I felt connected to myself and it gave me strength.

Text: Marinde van der Breggen

Image and production: Linda Roelofs

Makeup and Styling: Jocelyn Hougendam

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