The going gets tough

Last night I could not sleep. A strong headache kept me up all night, until I could see the light of a new day creeping on me through the window.

No laptop, no kindle, no phone. I tried to sleep, just laying there in the bed with the lights off. I had enough time to worry about this headache being something more serious. My budget can’t afford me getting sick.

Then my mind wondered.

I cried.

Yes, I cried in the middle of the night. Crying alone in my room is not my thing. I can’t remember myself crying in the past 15 years but my memory fails me often. Maybe it happened one or two times.

But not like this. It started from a conversation I had yesterday with my mother. My grandfather has been in the hospital for three weeks. He is fine now. They didn’t tell me before so I won’t worry.

He felt and had a heart attack. A neighbour found him lying in his yard in the morning. The image of my grandfather lying in the cold with no one to notice he is missing had me burst into tears. He is my symbol of kindness. I spent part of my childhood there, in Vadu Oii – a small village on the shore of the Danube. When I did some nasty thing he would call me and gently pull my ear while asking me not to do that again. And I was so pleased with this punishment. Doesn’t he know it does not hurt? The whole point is to hurt. It was a common practice to discipline children this way. Of course he knew. He was faking the ear pull hoping I would get it. He was kind in so many ways. I see a part of him in me and it is a part I hold dear. Picturing my kind grandfather living alone, walking with difficulty around his yard is tough.

Then I cried for my grandmother for the first time. She passed away a few months ago, shortly after I left. She had cancer and we saw it coming. I was already in Turkey for two weeks when I got a whatsapp from my sister saying she is not well. I didn’t plan to go back but a few hours later I was squeezed into a car heading for Bucharest. I left the tent and the kitesurfing equipment there on the beach, hoping I would find them a week later. I had to see my grandmother and say goodbye. She was happy to see me but she was in pain. All the family was there,  looking for ways to alleviate the pain. We were powerless. My grandma was strong. She still had hope. So the two of us did not say goodbye but I knew it would take a miracle for her to be around to greet me when I come back. Life just got fucking serious on me. I didn’t cry then. I didn’t cry when I got the news a few weeks later. I cried last night and I am crying now, as I write these words. That small house where I grew up will not have my grandmother there when I return.

A year ago, I would pass on mentioning this. Some of you might be shocked to read it. I’m changing. I learn to cry with dignity. It’s part of life. I want to learn to be open and express how I feel. Hard thing for a guy aiming to be strong all his life. I still aim at that, but “strong” means something else to me now … something I would mistake for weakness a while back. Soon enough I’ll be the old grandpa with no strenght left in my body. I wish to lough and cry at the same time, as I say goodbye to life, knowing that I reached the depths of what it means to be human.

I wish I would open this personal blog with something bright and hopeful, like the spirit of this journey. Some inspiring experience. But the idea is to let you see behind the curtain, if you are interested. I know I need this space to share. Having my family going through difficult moments while I chase unicorns around the world is the toughest thing about this. And then I will catch a unicorn and ride it up and down the rainbows and tell you all about it and then it gets tough again, rainbows again … and so it goes.
Thank you for being here :-)

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