' It Was Perfect'

It Was Perfect.

Being different can be so terribly difficult. So painful we wish we weren't who we are; then maybe the bullying might stop, the whispers would cease, the awful feelings would float away.

Rinke is different. She has autism, was first diagnosed with depression at six, has social anxiety and it's true not all humans have been kind along the journey of her young life.

When Given To Live met Rinke in June, we met a warm young woman at her piano practice who was learning Joanne to play at her grandfather's funeral when the time arrived as he was ill at the time. Hearing her speak about music and Lady Gaga it was so easy to see this was where Rinke felt safe, felt at peace.

Months later Rinke, with her mum Marieke, arrived for her show - Lady Gagaat Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam on a Saturday night. Rinke is beaming, the excitement outweighing the anxiety of being in a crowd of thousands. We go to eat, to relax, to allow the excitement to bubble, we show Rinke the videos and messages people had sent her, we watch the crowd lined up in thousands in almost freezing weather, we find a spot to watch from above and see a crowd seemingly full of bees as so many have golden foil blankets to keep to cold from pinching too deep.

We go in, visit the merch stand, grab a drink. Then it's all Gaga, starting with her film that Rinke may have seen once before but this time it's on huge screens with great sound. Not for the last time that evening Rinke is mesmerised. The end of Gaga is merely the beginning.

Waiting. A countdown clock brings the show closer, ten minutes. Closer. Five. Closer.

Lady Gaga comes onstage and for over two hours gives Rinke music and so much more. So very much more. Lady G talks about feeling different, how if you do feel different you're not alone even if that's how it feels. She sings, dances, plays solo. Rinke beams, lights up. Someone she looks up to says it's ok to be different and this speaks to Rinke.

Lady Gaga plays Joanne. Mother and daughter hold hands; father and grandfather has gone and Rinke did play Joanne at his funeral. Memories, some fresh, some distant tug as they do when we remember a loved one. The show carries on, Rinke sings and is free, mum looks on lovingly knowing her daughter feels safe and free. Free to be Rinke.

Shows don't last forever. Memories can. After the show we sat together and had a drink. Rinke barely spoke, lost in a reverie but when she did she told us how she'd felt free, not different, anxieties floated away and she felt part of something, not different.

We said goodbye to a shining Rinke. Before she left we asked her how her day had been...

'It was perfect.'


Thank you to everyone who commented and made a video for Rinke. These meant a lot to her, an immediate sense of being welcome.

Dana at MOJO, thank you, again, for your help.

Mireille, thank you for your support all the way from the start of this show's journey back in June.

Jaz your hotel and staff were perfect.

Everyone who shares posts, tweets, donates...without you there's no GTL. Thank you!