If someone hits you in the face, show your other cheek and prepare for another beating. It’s a proverb that I got to understand over the last few months. My father passed away early January, and before I could even catch my breath, an uncle whom I regarded as an ‘inspirational father’ to me, left this world. Only one week after his own brother. Although our contact had sadly cooled off over the recent years, he has been greatly influential for how I live my life today. He was a free soul – the wild one in the family. During my childhood we spent unforgettable times with him and his partner who lived in France. There I learned where scorpions hide … there the seeds were planted to live… to experience the freedom to sleep under the stars – to bath in the river – to appreciate the taste of good ice cream. There I rode pillion on a motorbike for the first time… wearing swimming pants and flip flops. I still love that combination 🙂
2 bruised cheeks! But life decided that wasn’t enough.
3 months after closing my father’s coffin, I found myself closing the next one – side by side with both my brothers, my sister and mother. My stepfather passed away as 4th in a row – all within 3 months. Leo was his name, which fitted him much better than ‘stepfather’. He was a character… Use your imagination – be creative – explore the world around you and afar – be happy with little – appreciate the small things in life – see opportunities in everything – play! – be who you are, regardless of what others may think, no matter how crazy it may seem …
Leo put all this and much more into the chart that symbolizes our family… And to which I denied him putting in his jacket, when he first joined us walking in the forest – I was only 4 years old. I wasn’t immediately accepting this stranger into our home – but I can’t put in words how grateful I am today that he persisted and stayed!
He passed away a few hours before I arrived in Holland. I would have wanted to thank him one last time for his existence, but it was too late. The only thing left for me to do is to honor him by living my dream: travel along the Silk Road – which he was deeply knowledgeable about, but never traveled himself. Leo followed me on the map, day by day. Not anymore… But he’ll be guiding me on the back of my bike: by means of the luggage he provided me in life.
All these events caused me being more determined than ever before, to continue this journey – not only this trip.
We don’t live only once, as some might say.
We die only once – but we live every day.