In Januari 2014 it became clear that my dad had an incurable cancer. The following months were really special, intense and loving. Thanks to the way my dad is. Today 4 years ago he died. A few days later I wrote an ode to him. Today I translated it from Dutch to English:
It is so great to be your daughter! Because of you I can be who I am. And it gave and still gives me the confidence to follow my own path.
You never thought you knew everything about anything. That way you always remained open and willing to learn. Very modest. Sometimes in a unrealistic way.
For example, we talked about music at home recently and you reacted with ‘but I am not a musician’. You, not a musician? As long as I can remember there are instruments in our house. You always played in a band. We were always surrounded with music.
Dad, you were a real musician. I will take your love for music further into the world.
What I also find illustrative of you is that you leave people in their value. For example, as a starting student I died my hair bright red for a while. Just like a traffic light. You did not really like it, but you did like that I just did it. When someone said to you: “But you can not allow that as a father,” you answered: “Well, she is the one who has to walk around looking like that.”
I always had a lot of questions about everything and we had good conversations about that. When we were doing the dishes together. Or when you were fixing things in my house again.
At the end of last year we heard that you were seriously ill. From then on, these conversations became even more intense. And they got another layer. You were not afraid of death and that’s why we could talk about it. With openness, humor, amazement and wonder.
You were truly amazed by all the sweet cards and visits from people during the past months. You had no idea that you made an impression on so many people. Such a beautiful gift for you, to realise that while you were still alive.
When I got home at the beginning of last week, it was clear that you were in the very last phase of your life. You were there. And you were not there. Fortunately, I feel that we have talked about everything we wanted to say.
Being sick by itself didn’t seem to really bother him a lot. As soon as something changed in your body, you adjusted in such a way that you could continue with doing your things. With your life. You really have enjoyed your life until the last day.
That last phase was something you really dreaded. You didn’t feel like experiencing that. So it did not really surprise me that in the middle of the night, while it was my turn to stay awake to be with you, you suddenly, very calmly, stopped breathing. No fear. No struggle. Your body was just done living.
Being great without shouting. That’s how you were. And that’s how you went. They say that you live on as long as people talk about you. Because of all the cards, conversations and messages we have received in recent months, and last week, I know for sure that you will live on for a long time.
Bye sweet dad,
there you go, on your way to the unknown.
I will continue my path in this world.
And I will always take your calmness, love, peace, trust and humour with me.