To The Boy Who Died

To The Boy Who Died

To The Boy Who Loves Me

 

The first version of this piece was going to be a spoken word poem. “To The Boy Who Loves Me.” I pictured myself standing on a small stage in front of only a handful of people. In my vision, you were standing in the audience, watching me standing in the spotlight, proud, because you knew how much strength and courage it took for me to get up on that stage. Sharing this poem in public was going to be my surprise to you, an expression of my feelings.

The first version of this piece told our story.

It told of two strangers on a beach, colliding, as our lives were spun around and shaken to the core by terrible events no one could have foreseen.

It told of a bond, so strong, it defied death. Created in moments of terror but strengthened in nights of thunder and lightning and rooms full of monsters and darkness.

It told of my screams that could only be hushed by your voice.

Of the hands that held mine in the darkest hours and the hope you filled my heart with. But also of the beauty that are coffee mornings, of discovering a muse and bodies that had yet to be explored.

It was a manifestation of the body and soul you saved. It was an anthem to the love you created.

The first version of this piece drifted off into an ocean of dreams we shared, plans we made and visions we had.

 

To The Boy Who Loved Me

 

The second version was still a spoken word poem. But this time it would have made you cry while you heard it.

It told about my desperate fight to keep up. A call for help, a voice terrified of being abandoned. A story of survival, not only mine, but of our love.

I tried to put in words the shame of laying your fears and secrets bare. To be told that there is something beautiful about my sadness, and then to be shunned for exactly this sadness.
In my vision, the second poem made you realise the agony of being abandoned.

It described the feeling of being in a cage, screaming on the top of my lungs, while the cage fills with water and the person I loved the most turns his back on me.

The endless darkness of dying a slow death while being told to watch the living revel in existence.

But this poem also told of a love that would not let go, that had still hope, beyond reality.

 

To The Boy Who Died

 

This is not a spoken word poem. It is a farewell.

I do no longer want to go on stage. I have nothing more to say. You are no longer in the audience.

I had to accept it at some point.

From that moment on, I did not shed a single tear. It is probably hard to believe, but it is the truth.

I put my phone in my pocket and went home.

Our love was gone, you had left.

It was time to come to terms with that. I acted as if nothing had happened.

I stopped talking about you entirely. I informed no one about your departure.

“The boy who loves me” hadn’t existed in a long time, I realised.

He had changed and vanished into vanity.

But I was sure, in their purest form his compassion, his tenderness and his heart hadn’t changed. He was maybe no longer the boy who loved me, but he was still the boy I loved.

I was wrong.

It was only after the three anniversaries of the dates that had changed our lives forever were come and gone, that I realised this.

Without a word you let those days go by, without a sign of reaching out to let me know that you are still in there. To show me that our experiences with death did not happen in vain.

Instead, you disappeared. Entirely. Exactly one year after the day I survived. And with that, the bond and the love faded, too.

The boy I knew, the boy I shared the most unusual connection with, was gone. It filled me with infinite grief to realise that the world had lost someone so unique, kind, warm, passionate and courageous. I don’t know exactly what kind of person replaced him, but I know that I will miss him forever.

To the boy who died: I want to tell you that I shall never forget what you have done for me and that I will be forever thankful! You saved my soul. I owe you my life.

It is the person you were that I keep as a memory and inspiration in my heart and mind. I miss this person with every fibre in my body, every day.

Now, you are alive in my memory. Since February 6th, 14th and 19th 2016 on, I no longer know who you are.

 

But please know: I’m ok.

 

Love,

-A.

This Wild Life

This Wild Life

Dear Mila,

My life is never going to be the same […] and in that discovery, I became empowered.

 This quote has been lingering in my mind for quite some time now and I wanted to share it with you.

It is from the movie “My Beautiful Broken Brain”. The film is about a young woman, Lotje Sodderland, who suffers from a stroke at the age of 34. When I saw the trailer for the film for the first time, I knew I had to see it. It is not just a documentary about a person who’s had a stroke. It’s an homage to the beauty and uniqueness of life. As a filmmaker, she instinctively knew that she needed to document her experience and her path of recovery. The viewer follows Lotje from the first days after the stroke through her first attempts of reading, writing and talking, her discovery of “a portal where [her] brain once was […] to another dimension” and all the way to meeting David Lynch, a world famous movie director. From the moment I heard Lotje talk in the same halting manner that I had, I connected with her.

Watching her go through what I have been through gave me strength. Not only did I have the opportunity to see a story very similar to mine, I also got to see my own story through the eyes of an outsider and I had the opportunity to ask myself questions, I never really dared to ask before: “Would I change what happened? How would my story have gone if I had been a different person?”

Lotje seemed to deal with her fate a lot better than I did at the time. She seemed upbeat and always strong, never shedding a tear, never screaming “WHY ME?” against a wall in her bedroom, never angry. But knowing the tremendous loss and pain she’s endured, I think I was able to see beyond what the screen showed. It is, in my eyes, the biggest flaw and deepest truth of the film: It’s impossible to fully understand, unless you’ve been through it.

As much as I wish I could have been as positive about what happened as Lotje was, I realized that I acted and reacted the only way possible for me. And that’s ok. As I run through the past year in my head, over and over, I cannot see myself falling apart in any other way than how I did. Because that is who I am, it is what I needed to recover and to come out of it the way that I did. Because only through falling apart can I now understand the depths of mental illness and other hardship that other people go through. It is only now that I can lend a hand to those suffering and be someone they can maybe turn to. Sorrow comes in all forms and sizes and no one has the right to downplay anyone else’s misery. Strangely, going through something that felt so isolating gave me the strength to reach out to others.

“I don’t care whether you stood with the great, I care whether you sat with the broken.”

Would I change what happened? – No, probably not. Behind me lies a nightmare. A burden I do not wish upon anybody. But something has changed. Now, with the mark of one year, I am willing and able to let it go, or, maybe more importantly, accept the accident and the stroke as part of my story. Because, just like Lotje, knowing that my life will never be the same empowered me to an extent I did not dare to imagine.

It may seem that before the stroke I was living my life to the fullest. But maybe I wasn’t. I was limited in my own thoughts and expectations of reality. Having a traumatic brain injury forced me to look at life in a completely new way. Not only did I have to ask myself where my life would go from here and what would happen if I did or didn’t recover. I also needed to understand what had happened to me and what I could do to heal. This thirst for knowledge took me deep into the world of Neuroscience, where I learned the most important lesson of my life: I can do anything!
Our brains are capable of the most astonishing accomplishments and changes. With enough effort and the right tactics, even my Swiss-Cheese-Hole-Filled brain could learn whatever I asked it to. Hell, it was possible for me to “unlearn” depression and even past traumas became vanquishable in the prospect of ongoing brain plasticity. Suddenly, everywhere I look I see possibilities. Going back to university seemed no longer daunting but an exciting way to test my brain’s abilities. Everything is up to me and my brain now. I am bolder and more courageous. Instead of destiny or fate, I now choose to believe in nothing but life: My life, which I almost ended by my own hands. I believe that everything is a coincidence. And therefore everything is what you make of it.

And this leads me to my second empowerment. The realization that I, I alone, made this life. It is mine. In it’s entity, with everything in it. And hell, no, it’s not perfect. In no way it is. But it is mine, and with that alone, it is beautiful, because nothing leaves you feeling more powerless than having your identity taken from you. But given the choice between a fight for my old life or the opportunity to become someone else, I chose myself. Because through this fight, I became who I needed to be, who I was going to be the whole time. It was a yes to my past and with that a yes to the future.

Sure, for some people, life dishes out the nice silver plates with nothing but fancy, well-presented hors d’oevres, ready and easy to grab. While some of us – me, for example -, well, we get the proverbial lemons not handed, but thrown at us. So, now, I decided to order a bottle of tequila to go with those lemons. Come to think of it, Tequila fits better with my life anyway. Because I think it’s been pretty wild so far.

I was cheated on, lied to, kicked, hurt, bullied, and rejected. In the past 365 days I have found and lost the love of my life, all in one year. I have fought through depression and suicide. One year after a stroke I am back at university, going strong.

On February 14, 2016, Valentine’s day, the day of my very own anniversary I climbed onto the back of a motorbike again, arms spread out, bumping across dirt roads, speeding under palm trees and into a sunset, skin fuelled with sun rays, hair soaked with salt water. And I remembered that there will be days when we soar over the jungle like a bird. It was my very own New Year.

In my 27 years on this planet I have so far traveled to 23 countries by myself (and there’s many more to come). During those travels I have met soul sisters, have been robbed, drugged, danced on tables, surfed big waves, scuba dived with manta rays and sharks, swam with wild dolphins, had sex on beaches and rooftops, saved animals, jumped out of a running car, slept at strangers houses, got tattoos, had to hide from scary men and cried my eyes out over the unfairness of the world. Together with my family I have dealt with accidents, severe illnesses, mental illnesses and devastating losses. I have learned 4 additional languages, have worked for some of the biggest companies in the world, had a successful modeling career and dropped it for traveling, got published as a writer, got fired, crashed a substantial amount of cars, scratched my knees, broke my arm, broke my heart and got arrested for standing up for my beliefs. I did everything the wrong way around, so that even for me time makes no sense anymore and I tend to forget how old or young I am.

And while I was sitting on the back of that motorcycle exactly 1 year after the accident, I knew, it was this way or none.

Obviously, the list could go on forever and ever. I am not saying that my life is any wilder than anyone else’s. But it is mine. And when I look at the list of all the things that happened to me, the accident and the stroke go pretty well with the tone of my life. Of course, this is not just magically over now. The physical disabilities still stick with me – who knows, they might be there forever. I will have to live with them, and most days are still difficult and often painful. There will be days where it’s unbearably hard and seemingly impossible. But I am traveling again. I am in Indonesia. I am on a motorbike. I am in the ocean. I am on mountains. I am alive. It seems like I have lived life differently to many people until now, so why not keep going like that?

So I’m gonna take that lemon and I’m gonna take that tequila. Who knows, I might just end up dancing on the bar!

Love, A.

 

 

 

Depression and other story tellers: The stories they told!

Depression and other story tellers: The stories they told!

Dear Mila,

Guess what? You were not the only one reading my last letter to you. In fact, all of a sudden, it seemed like an incredible amount of people were interested in what I had to say to you. It was as scary as it was wonderful.

I went from feeling like no-one would care if I died to receiving thank you messages from strangers for writing my letter. Isn’t that strange? First my friends told me that they thought I was brave and how much they liked my writing. But then, all of a sudden, I received messages from people I hadn’t spoken to in a long time or didn’t even know at all.

And the most astonishing thing happened: as a reaction to my letter, people of all kinds and from all places started reaching out to me, telling me about their own stories. All of a sudden, it wasn’t that depression was the story-teller, THEY were. And stories they told me!

The world travelers who suffered from anxiety or depression their whole life and still managed to become impressive and magnetic people who devoted their lives to adventure.
The athletic suffering from a chronic illness with a usually very low life expectancy.
The women’s rights activist who used to suffer from low self-esteem and fought anorexia. Or the academic who proved that everyone can find their place no matter what your burden is.
People who all of a sudden fell into a dark hole of anxiety of depression without any previous trauma or incident, struggling to get their life back together, that had so suddenly fallen apart.

What had been just a letter from me to you, to get it off my chest, had become a motivation for those people to write to me and reveal themselves to me. Most I had never seen or met before. Many told me that it is easier for them to talk to me about it because they didn’t know me and they knew I wouldn’t judge. Which is not entirely true.. I did judge! I judged that all of them were incredibly brave humans who deserve someone to listen to them and understand.

I was so moved and overwhelmed with all the responses I got for that letter! As much as people are thankful for me writing it, I am even more grateful for their responses. It made me feel less lonely. For the first time in a long time I felt something like pride again. But most importantly, I was able to help! Obviously it didn’t have a big impact on each and every reader. But if just one person picked up a phone instead of a bottle of pills after reading it, or if someone felt lighter after telling me their story, it was a win!

Only through this did I realize how small deeds can help. How listening really helps. How many people are just waiting for someone to listen to them and how, by doing so, you may just safe a life.

In my online dating profile it says that I’m an “activist”. For a long time I thought I was just lying to myself. But now I realized that you don’t have to chain yourself to trees or throw paint at people’s coats to be an activist. As much as I’d like to do those things (I’d really love to throw red paint at all those fur coats!), I can’t right now. I am still limited by my body and my mind. But what I can do right now is listen and write and share my story.

As an adolescent and young woman I was always told not to reveal so much of myself, not to tell all my secrets. I was a talker and often confessed my most honest thoughts and feelings to everyone who would listen. They warned me that people would use it against me and try to hurt me with everything they knew about me. I didn’t understand.

And they did use it against me and they did hurt me with it. But you know what? That’s ok! I kept and will keep telling my truth, my story, my thoughts. Because I don’t want to live in a world where people have to hide their reality from others out of fear of being hurt. My story and my past are not something to be ashamed of. Neither are my thoughts. And therefore, there is nothing I need to be afraid of.

Mila, being vulnerable is ok! Sharing you story is important! Speaking your truth, your inside and talking about your experiences is crucial. It is who you are. If we all did, maybe a lot of people would feel less alone, less hopeless?

Stories matter. Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign, but stories can also be used to empower and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people, but stories can also repair that broken dignity. 

– Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Novelist
Now this all sounds so lovely and candy-cotton-fluffy. But is it? No, it’s not. Reading my letter did not heal anybody from depression, anxiety or any other illness. Getting such wonderful feedback did not all of a sudden cure me from my depression or pick up the low self-esteem I have accumulated over the past 27 years. But it’s a step. Writing it helped me heal a bit more. Reading it and telling me maybe helped someone else heal just a little bit more, too?
It is now time for me to tell my story. I think it does matter, after all.
You will see that maybe I am not who you thought I am. But I hope you will love me, still.
Until the next letter
-A.

Depression And Other Story-Tellers: My Year Without Life

Depression And Other Story-Tellers: My Year Without Life

Dear Mila,

There’s a story I’d like to tell you. Part of a story. Basically the latest chapter of one. Mine.

For the whole past year I’ve been writing to you about the world, my discoveries, my life.
Today, I will tell you about my death. And my resurrection.

But first, there’s something you need to know: I like people with stories. People who had to fight. And people who’s fight made them kind and compassionate.
I look up to people who know about life’s ups and downs, it’s hidden valleys and treasures. People who only ever have a good time are suspicious to me. How would they relate to the many people suffering in this world? They seem to be avoiding life in it’s full immenseness. Seem to avoid hardship and are not fully aware of what’s happening around them.
People who think they are strong because they have never fallen have no idea about the strength of the people who get up and fight their demons every day.
If you know how a heart can shatter into a thousand pieces of sharp glass, you’re my kind of person. Because then you know how it feels to have your heart swell and fly, like a balloon filled with helium. So full that you think you’re gonna explode out of joy of a single small moment. The glitter of the ocean, the sensation of warm rain on your salty skin, a hug by that person you’ve been missing for too long. Or the first glimpse of a blue sky you thought you’d never see again!

With this, I want to encourage everyone with a story to share it. With the people they love, people they meet, people they’ll maybe never see again. Because there’s nothing worse than having to go through death, hell and life alone. And by sharing our story, we discover, that we’re not alone. We are story-tellers. And we all have more than one chapter.

So here’s mine.
In January 2015 I packed up my surfboard, my backpack, danced in the living room and took off to my favorite place: The ocean. More specific: Sri Lanka. The teardrop shaped jewel in the Indian Ocean.

What I didn’t know was that this would be the end of life as I knew it.

3 weeks later, it was valentine’s day, we crashed. Our motorbike thundered down the side of a small bridge, leaving me unconscious and my friend utterly devastatingly injured. I woke up with the high pitched sound of the broken bike and my friend uttering noises of immense pain under her breath.
It took us 12 hours and 3 different hospitals to get her from the mountains of Sri Lanka to a private hospital in Colombo.

As much as you might be interested in hearing more about my friend’s story, this is not my information to share. Thus I can’t continue here. All I can say is this: She will be fine! And she is by far one of the strongest people I know and I can’t wait to surf with her again. Because we will! I admire her for how she handled the incredibly difficult situation she was in, and the pain she had to endure. I will never stop re-living the moment when we had to separate hands to be taken off to two different intensive care units.

My story begins here.
On February 17 I had a stroke. Two, to be exact. As a direct consequence of the accident.

Yes, it came along with all the symptoms you hear of. The right side of my body went paralyzed, I couldn’t speak, only utter sounds, I couldn’t move and had no idea what was going on.
I wanted to speak, ask what was happening but could not react besides making those golden-retriever like sounds. That moment is engraved into my brain (literally and figuratively). I hope one day the flash-backs will stop.

The next hours I spent in a big noisy machine, being examined by many doctors and being wheeled around in a bed. But what I remember most is the deeply concerned look on the doctors faces, a certain person’s hand on mine and the overwhelming need to sleep. I hid under the covers.

I woke up in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). In the middle of the night, alone. That was when that little creepy devil of anxiety creeped into my veins. He snuck in through my ears with the beeping of the machines, into my eyes with the blinking lights and the emptiness of the room. Into my blood with every drop of the medicine. And there he settled.
Over the next 2 weeks in the ICU he had his fun with me. He made me scream, shake, squirm and cry whenever he liked. He’d creep up my right leg, whispering “stroke” and would cling to my lungs when I tried to breath or ask for help.

For two weeks I saw no sunlight, smelled no fresh air, no stars, no birds, no plant. Only a room the size of a cardboard box, artificial light and the beep-beep-beep of my heartbeat being digitalized. The devil grew, multiplied, called for his friends. And they came. Guilt and Depression. They picked me apart, left me sometimes apathetic and tired, then again crying and screaming, then begging, then whimpering, then senseless.

And they stayed with me. After I left the hospital. After I left Sri Lanka.
Anxiety was an ever present devil. He’s green, small, grinning. He hides in corners, in buses, in lecture halls, in cafés. And he’ll tell me that death is coming for me. Any second now. So I’d pick up the phone for help or to say goodbye. Break down on the street crying. Hiding. Not taking a shower when no one was in the house worried that no one would find me in there. Leaving the door open when I sleep, hoping that someone could tell the difference between death and sleep.
It is no life when you think you’re dying three times a day. It is merely existing. 

But as one devil shrunk with the help of therapy, meditation and medication, another one grew stronger and stronger. This one is less like a little creepy devil. It’s a deep dark black pool of dark water with slippery creatures on the ground, trying to grab your ankles as you flail your arms to stay on the surface. I didn’t. I went under. But the fact that I’m writing to you today means that I didn’t drown.
Having been left with daily symptoms of a strong concussion and the stroke, I could see less and less sense in my life. What would my life be if I couldn’t travel anymore? Who was I, if I couldn’t explore the world anymore?
Can an injured brain take the workload of a student life? What would I do if I couldn’t pursue my degree?
If all your dreams are shattered by a beaten and broken body, why dream?
When just walking down the street is an effort, what does the outside world matter?
When moving around the house is painful, why leave bed?
If every night is only a string of flash-backs and nightmares, why sleep?
Why eat?
Why drink?

Why live?

And so it went on.

Until I found the pills. All the pills. And there I was. On the edge of destruction. On the edge of suicide. On the edge of life and death.

But I couldn’t do it.
I am a person with a story! MANY stories.
My whole life I wanted to be the girl with the many tattoos, many jobs, many destinations and many stories. So I need to live to tell this one. I decided to build my life again.
Even though it still seems like it sometimes, I know that nobody gets everything.
I had more than many. From a beautiful childhood to a troubled youth, a loving family, safety and warmth. Life lessons. I have a good, beautiful body, a great brain (even though it now has holes in it) and an even better heart.
I was given the world, the ocean runs through my body and there’s the sand of the sahara in my shoes. I may never get all the opportunities other people were given. But that doesn’t define me. What defines me is my strength and my love for this life. It I’ll never teach great theories, write great articles or be on a big stage.. that’s ok.
I will teach people how to fight and how to be strong. How to love this world. The planet will be my stage. Maybe now, I won’t be as good or smart as others. But there’s a reason I’m still here.
All I can do in the end is give my best in being me.
As long as I feel there’s life. There’s the world. There’s me.

And all the things fighting for.

Don’t get me wrong: I didn’t just snap out of depression or anxiety. I’m still battling it every day. But I’m also discovering that it’s worth being strong.
There are days I don’t want to get up and I’m jealous and angry because it seems everyone else has it easier. Nights where the nightmares are grabbing, where death seems to be peeking into my bedroom. Moments that seem entirely dark, deep and endless.
But they become less and less – because I asked for help. And I received it. By many many people. And I remembered that I matter. I remembered that people care. Family, friends, kind strangers, therapists, doctors, kittens and meditation.

I will never again be the girl that wrote to you last year, Mila. But that’s ok. Because I have another story, another tattoo. I am more compassionate now. I take (even) less bullshit. And even though I’m still a bit shaky in the knees, I know I’ll be stronger. And there will be life.

I can see it from here.

Love,

-A.

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A day to believe in heroes

deckeneinsturtz-einer-tiefgarage-in-gretzenbach-2

Dear Mila,

Today is one of those days I’d like to be able to believe in God. Maybe it would be easier to understand why life goes the way it does. Why things happen that one can never understand or grasp, things no one will ever be able to see a reason or sense behind. Things happen because they do and they can shake you to your core and sometimes people will never overcome the pain those events bring.

Today is one of those days I’d like to be grateful. I am. But I am also furious, sad and numb. A day I’d like to be happy but I can’t, because I know that there are others who are not. And that it could be me, the one who today only feels deep, dark and inexhaustible grief.

It’s a blink of an eye, one movement, a little moment of hesitation or a single look over the shoulder that saved my family the grief which 7 other families have been living with for the past 10 years.

Today marks 10 years since the biggest fire department accident in Switzerland. On November 27, 2004 the roof of an underground garage crashed down onto the fire fighters who were beneath it, at that very moment, to extinguish a fire. Seven of them died immediately or on the site of accident. Three were rescued, one of them badly injured – my father.

They left children and wives. My father would have left me, my two siblings and my mother. Had he stood one meter to the front, November 27, 2004 would have been the day of his death.

I don’t know what saved my father’s life. Did he put on his boots a second slower than the other? Was it the zipper of his jacket that stuck for a little moment? Did he let someone else go in front of him? Or did he look back at the front door to make sure all his loved ones were fast asleep? Maybe it was God, yes, maybe he exists. Who knows. Maybe it was destiny. Coincidence. I will never know. No one ever will.

On my way to school that morning, I saw his car on the parking lot in front of the firehouse. “There was a fire early in the morning. I don’t know why he’s not back yet”, my mother said. Even though we have seen uncountable of those missions in the middle of the night, I knew immediately, that something was different this time. At this very moment, my dad was already lying underneath the debris – fully conscious. Weeks later I read in a newspaper interview what he was thinking about in those moments – almost certain about his immediate death.

“He was in it”, my mom sobbed on the phone.

Peeping sounds, tubes, doctors, a bustle, tears. Impossible to forget the moment when I saw him again, hours later in the hospital. He pulled the oxygen mask down from his face: “I told you I was going to be 99.” A crushed lung, a brocken back – but he was alive.

Despite the joy I feel that he is still alive, that we got another chance, I also feel the grief of the people who, today, are reminded once more how cruel their fathers, husbands, sons and friends were ripped out of life. It is as if I could physically feel their questions: “Why us? Why him? Why?” And I ask myself if they wish it had been us instead of them. Ask myself if they can forgive? Find closure? Keep on going? Are they still angry? Did they find consolation?

To all those question, I have no answer. But there is one thing I know and I want you to know that, too, Mila:

– Those men were heroes!

For years they risked their lives in their spare time, to save others. From 9/11 in New York to November 27, 2004 in Gretzenbach, Switzerland – never cease to believe in heroes, Mila!

They are among us – and when they are taken away from us, that’s how we should remember them.

To me, at least, that’s what they will always be. So today may not be the day I start to believe in God. But it’s another day for me to believe in heroes.

gretz5Jahresrueckblick-27 deckeneinsturtz-einer-tiefgarage-in-gretzenbach  TIEFGARAGE Ceiling of an underground car park collapsed in GretzenbachLove

-A.

Ein Tag um an Helden zu glauben

TIEFGARAGE

Liebe Mila,

Heute ist einer dieser Tage, an denen ich gerne an Gott glauben können würde. Vielleicht wäre es einfacher, zu verstehen, warum das Leben den Lauf nimmt, den es nun mal nimmt. Warum Dinge geschehen, die man so niemals begreifen kann, hinter denen man keinen Grund und keinen Sinn sieht. Dinge die geschehen, einfach weil sie geschehen und einen in tiefsten Innern erschüttern, Erlebnisse, über die man nie vollständig hinweg kommt.

Heute ist einer dieser Tage, an denen ich dankbar sein möchte und auch dankbar bin und gleichzeitig wütend, traurig und verständnislos. Ein Tag an dem ich glücklich sein möchte aber es nicht kann, weil da das Wissen ist, dass andere es nicht sein können. Und dass das genau so ich sein könnte, die heute statt Dankbarkeit nur tiefste und unerschöpfliche Trauer fühlen könnte.

Es ist ein Wimpernschlag, eine Bewegung, ein kleines Zögern oder ein Blick zurück der meiner Familie das Leid und die Trauer erspart hat, mit dem 7 andere Familien bis heute seit genau 10 Jahren leben müssen.

Heute jährt sich das grösste Feuerwehrunglück der Schweiz zum zehnten Mal. Am 27. November 2004 stürzte die Decke einer Tiefgarage auf die Feuerwehrleute, die sich in diesem Moment darunter befanden um ein Feuer zu löschen. Sieben starben sofort oder noch auf der Unfallstelle, drei wurden gerettet, einer davon schwer verletzt – mein Vater. Sie hinterliessen Kinder und Frauen. Mein Vater hätte mich hinterlassen, meine zwei Geschwister und meine Mutter. Hätte er einen Meter weiter vorne gestanden, wäre der 27. November 2004 sein Todestag gewesen.

Ich weis nicht, was meinem Vater das Leben gerettet hat. Ob er nur den Bruchteil einer Sekunde langsamer die Stiefel übergezogen hat, der Reisverschluss der Jacke kurz klemmte, ob er einen anderen vorgehen liess oder an der Haustür noch kurz innehielt und zurückblickte, sich versicherte, dass alle seine liebsten tief schlafen. Vielleicht war es Gott, ja vielleicht gibt es ihn. Wer weis das schon. Vielleicht war es Schicksal. Zufall. Ich werde es nie erfahren, niemand wird es je wissen.

Als ich an jenem Morgen zur Schule fuhr, sah ich das Auto meines Vaters auf dem Parkplatz vor der Feuerwehrzentrale. “Es gab ein Feuer, früh heute Morgen. Ich weis nicht, warum er noch nicht zurück ist”, sagte meine Mutter. Obwohl wir schon unzählige solcher Einsätze mitten in der Nacht erlebt hatten, spürte ich diesmal, dass etwas anders war. Zu dem Zeitpunkt lag mein Vater bereits unter den Trümmern begraben – bei vollem Bewusstsein. Später erfuhr ich aus einem Zeitungsinterview worüber er in diesen Minuten – in denen er sich seinem Tod beinahe sicher war – nachgedacht hatte.

“Es hat ihn erwischt”, schluchzte meine Mutter am Telefon.

Piepstöne, Schläuche, Ärzte, Hektik, Tränen. Den Moment, an dem ich ihn Stunden später im Krankenhaus wieder sah, werde ich nie im Leben vergessen. Er zog sich die Sauerstoffmaske vom Gesicht: “Ich habe doch gesagt, ich werde 99.” Die Lunge gequetscht, der Rücken gebrochen – doch er lebte.

Doch trotz der Freude, die ich empfinde, dass er noch lebt, dass wir noch eine Chance bekommen haben, verspüre ich auch die Trauer der Menschen, die heute wieder daran erinnert werden, wie grausam ihre Väter, Ehemänner, Söhne und Freunde aus dem Leben gerissen wurden. Es ist als könnte ich ihre Fragen körperlich spüren: “Warum wir? Warum er? Warum?” Und ich frage mich, ob sie sich wünschen es hätte uns getroffen, statt sie. Frage mich, ob sie vergeben können? abschliessen? weitermachen? ob sie noch wütend sind? Fanden sie Trost?

Auf alle diese Fragen habe ich keine Antwort. Aber ich weis eines, und ich möchte, dass auch du das weisst, Mila:

– Diese Männer waren Helden!

Jahrelang riskierten sie in ihrer Freizeit ihr Leben um andere zu retten. Vom 11. September 2001 in New York bis zum 27. November 2004 in Gretzenbach, Schweiz – glaube immer an Helden, Mila.

Sie sind unter uns – und wenn sie uns entrissen werden, sollten wir uns so an sie erinnern.

Für mich jedenfalls werden sie das immer sein. Vielleicht ist heute also nicht der Tag, an dem ich beginne an Gott zu glauben. Aber es ist ein weiterer Tag, um an Helden zu glauben.

Ceiling of an underground car park collapsed in Gretzenbach

deckeneinsturtz-einer-tiefgarage-in-gretzenbach-2

deckeneinsturtz-einer-tiefgarage-in-gretzenbach

gretz5

Jahresrueckblick-27

Love
-A.

Mut ist einer der Pfeiler des Glücks

Liebe Mila,

Ich habe dich nicht vergessen. Nein, wirklich nicht. Im Gegenteil. Ich denke oft an dich. Sehr oft. Fast täglich entwerfe ich in meinem Kopf Briefe, sehe Dinge die ich dir zeigen möchte, habe Unterhaltungen die ich dir weitererzählen muss. Kommt mir ein Gedanke, den ich mit dir teilen möchte, notiere ich ihn mir sofort.

Trotzdem kam seit Monaten kein Brief von mir bei dir an. Der letzte kam aus Sri Lanka, ein Land, das mich inspiriert und berührt hat, in dem ich Neues und Erstaunliches erlebt habe. Auf meinem Schreibtisch liegen etwa ein Duzend Briefe an dich, aus Sri Lanka, Kambodscha, Indonesien und auch aus Frankreich, Spanien und Portugal. Sie sollten dir davon Berichten, was ich auf meinen Reisen gelernt und gesehen habe, dich mit Worten durch mein Leben on the road mitnehmen. Du solltest den Wind in deinen Haaren, das Salz auf deiner Haut und die Schärfe auf deiner Zunge spüren.

Von gebrochenen Herzen, Tränen, Hoffnung und Sonnenuntergängen wollte ich dir erzählen. Davon, wie man sich dank Keksen und Zeichnungen in Sri Lanka mit einem einheimischen Mädchen anfreundet. Oder, wie es sich anfühlt, beim Abschied von 140 Katzen und einer Heldin die Tränen zurück zu halten versucht. Wie befreiend es sein kann, alleine mit dem Auto drei Länder zu durchkreuzen und auf Autobahnraststätten zu campieren. Wie schön es ist, eine Frau zu sein. Ein Brief aus Frankreich sollte dich davor warnen, dass eine wahre Reisende auch das Schlechte auf der Welt sehen wird und dass es gut ist, Schwäche zu zeigen und in einem vermeintlich paradiesischen Ort die Hölle zu entdecken. Ich wollte dir erklären, dass du wählerisch sein sollst, mit wem du dich umgibst und wie es sich anfühlte, als ich merkte, dass es Menschen gibt, die sich durch meine Reisen inspirieren liessen (ich habe bis heute kein Wort dafür gefunden).

Und doch, trotz all dieser Erlebnisse und Ideen kam immer noch kein Brief bei dir an. Warum?

Es ist einfach, Mila, und trotzdem so schwierig. Mir fehlte der Mut!

Ja, dem Mädchen, dass alleine auf Autobahnraststätten übernachtet, sich in grosse Wellen stürzt, sich in Marokko von Fremden einladen lässt, per Autostopp durch Zentralamerika düst und sich, um ein Kätzchen zu retten, mit allen Männern der Welt raufen würde, fehlt der Mut. Du musst verstehen, bei meinen Briefen an dich kehre ich mein Inneres nach aussen. Wie ein Magier der seine Tricks preisgibt, verrate ich dir und denen die dir beim Lesen über die Schulter schauen, was wirklich in mir vorgeht. Das macht mir Angst.

Als ich begann, dir diese Briefe zu schreiben, war ich gerade ich 25 Jahre alt geworden. Ein Vierteljahrhundert also. Dieser Geburtstag war für mich ein Meilenstein. Es war Zeit, meine Träume endlich wahr zu machen. Fertig mit den Ausreden, mit der Angst und den Bedenken. Immerhin war ich jetzt erwachsen. Ich reiste zu diesen exotischen Orten, die die Worte nur so aus mir heraussprudeln liessen. Ein wunderbarer Freund stand mir zur Seite und ermutigte mich, dir immer weiter Briefe zu schreiben. Meine Träume nahmen mehr und mehr Formen an. Ich pendelte um die Welt, half wo ich konnte, schrieb darüber und erhielt unglaubliche Rückmeldungen. Es ist ein Privileg, über das eigene Leben schreiben zu dürfen, verstehst du? Meine Zukunft wurde Realität.

Doch nach meiner Rückkehr in die Schweiz kam die Flaute. Reisen ist wer ich bin. Es liegt in meinen Genen, ich bin damit geboren. Ich kann mich an keine Zeit in meinem Leben erinnern, in der ich nicht davon geträumt habe, in fremde Länder zu reisen. Keine Zeit in der ich nicht einen Ruf und einen Sog verspürte. Das bin ich. Es gibt keinen Grund oder Auslöser für mein Fernweh. Manche Leute sind geborene Sänger oder Tänzer. Ich, ich bin eine Reisende. So sehr ich mein Zuhause und alle Menschen und Tiere darin liebe, so sehr brauche ich doch diese Orte, die mein Herz zum tanzen bringen, zum schreiben.

Wer einmal losgegangen ist, die Faulheit, Angst oder Vorurteile die ihn zurückgehalten haben, überwunden hat, der wird wohl nie wieder davon lassen können. Vom Weggehen, vom Entdecken, vom Horizont. Genau so wie man Sätze erst durch Worte und Worte erst durch Buchstaben erkennen kann, so ist die Welt nur durch Reisen, kleine und grosse Schritte, entdeckbar. Doch wer einmal die Weite, Grösse und Unfassbarkeit erfahren hat, wer mit offenen Augen und lebendigen Sinnen und Geist versucht hat die welt zu sehen und zu fühlen, zu begreifen oder wenigstens zu greifen, der kann nicht zurück. Zurück in die Enge des Vorher. Denn egal wie gross dieses Vorher war, es ist niemals so gross wie die Welt.

Nun fühlte ich mich plötzlich wieder versumpft im Alltag, fühlte mich wieder heruntergezogen von der Angst, von anderen für meine Briefe an dich verurteilt oder gar ausgelacht zu werden. Das Gefühl, dass mein Leben auch nur ein Mü anders ist, als das der anderen, dass es Wert ist, darüber zu schreiben, verschwand mehr und mehr. Plötzlich fühlte ich mich wieder, als hätte ich nichts erreicht, als wäre meine Zukunft noch weiter weg als vorher. Ich war gewöhnlich, langweilig und durchsichtig.

Warum also jetzt? Schreibe ich diesen Brief an einem Strand am anderen Ende der Welt? Bin ich in Kalifornien um dich zu besuchen? Oder besteige ich morgen den Machu Pichu? – Nein, ich tippe ihn in der Uni Bibliothek in Zürich. Eher nicht so exotisch, oder?

Aber ich habe eine Lektion gelernt, die ich mit dir teilen möchte.

In den letzten Wochen tauchte eine Kampagne immer wieder auf meiner Facebook Hauptseite auf. Die Save Kimi – Be Fur Free Kampagne von Vier Pfoten. Durch die täglichen Posts der VierPfoten Aktivisten wurde mir klar, wie viel ein Einzelner bewirken kann. Ich konnte zusehen, wie diese Kampagne wuchs und immer mehr Menschen daran teilnahmen. Fast täglich sah ich neue Bilder von Protestaktionen in grossen Städten Europas, Menschen die in Kimi-Masken vor Burberry-Shops posierten und Poster in die Höhe strecken. Doch all das war nur möglich, dank der harten und inspirierten Arbeit der Aktivisten. Menschen, die sich trauen, zu kämpfen, für eine bessere Welt, ihre Stimmen erheben und nicht aufgeben. Auch wenn die Möglichkeit besteht, zu verlieren.

Mir wurde bewusst, dass ich, wenn ich eine Zukunft möchte, in der meine Worte und Taten Menschen erreichen, dafür arbeiten muss. Ich muss mich trauen, auch wenn die Gefahr besteht, dass andere mich belächeln. Auch ich möchte eine bessere Welt. Für mich, für dich und für uns alle. Davon träume ich und dafür muss ich weiter arbeiten. In meinen Briefen an dich, an der Universität und in meinem täglichen Leben.

Liebe Mila, Träume erfüllen sich nicht von alleine. Sie erfordern viel Mut und Arbeit. Aber sie sind es wert!

In diesem Sinne: Bis zum nächsten Brief!

In Liebe,

– A.

 

HP2283

Photo on 25.10.14 at 16.47 #2

Anm.: Mut ist einer der Pfeiler des Glücks ist ein Zitat des Philosophen Perikles.