You should’ve seen her, a 6 year old little girl with the largest smile her tiny face could hold, with more life than this world could hold.
I guess we were all looking funny to her, with our own “Adult Problems”; complaining about the weather, the traffic, our colleagues, always giving more importance to the dark cloud behind the silver lining, silver lining that she always seemed to notice first.
Oh how effortlessly you were able to smile…
I miss you Zoé.
I miss you because you will never grow to understand how much you helped me and so many others to realise our full potential. You will never grow to understand how you managed to bring strangers together under the same banner, the power you had of creating a safe haven for all the lost souls in the middle of a storm.
You made me realise that it’s such an easy thing to forget how short life is, and how much we, as human beings, have power over who we decide to become.
Here are the 5 main things you taught me:
The one who is able to climb Mt Everest or row across the Atlantic is the same person who is able to slouch all day on a couch waiting for his time to come.
We are all born with a beating heart and a complex mind. What we do in our given time is our responsibility, our choice. It is why Life is one of the greatest gift, for we have the opportunity to try, to fail, to try again and to succeed. If one is willing to dedicate enough of himself, success will appear in some form or shape.
I find it inspiring that human beings are capable of the greatest feats as well as the worst downfalls. We are powerful beyond measure. We have an absurd ability to love, to cherish and to protect. We also have an irrational sense of dedication when it comes to accomplishing our dreams.
It is my opinion that we are four dimensional beings, the last dimension being our ability to dream and to create an entire new world within ourselves. We have the power to be the architects of our mind, we have the power to inspire others to action, we have the power to create, we have the power to decimate, we have the power to love, we are powerful beyond measure.
Zoé turned the shy and disillusioned 20 year old that I was into a young man ready to take on the world in order to stop child cancer from taking innocent lives way too soon. She made me realise that no matter how small the step is, going forward is a crucial part of being courageous.
“Fall down seven times, get up eight.” -Japanese Proverb
I once believed that we all had our destiny clearly set out in front of us. I believed that we just had to “follow the signs”.
I once believed that being a grown-up man meant chiseling your life step after step, decision after decision, like a sculptor spends his nights giving life to a block of stone.
Zoé became a catalyst for hundreds of people who knew her or who knew her parents. These people decided to act and to be creators of change in their lives in the name of children with cancer, so that no parent should feel the pain of outliving his child. I also believe that we took the decision to act for ourselves, as it gave true meaning for a period of our lives during which we became fighters, during which we were part of something larger than ourselves.
I now believe that there is no “set path” for us in this world. We are not witnesses, we are the main characters. We decide who we want to be, and each decision that we take builds our path closer to the finish line, in one way or the other.
“Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.” William J. Bryan
This African proverb perfectly embodies not only what I discovered when hearing about Zoé4Life, but also when I started to create a fundraising project to swim against Cystic Fibrosis. It doesn’t only apply to charities and fundraising campaigns but to life in general. Successful people have great ideas and great talents, but they also have an incredible team working with them. By combining all of these talents, a simple spark is turned into a blazing fire of entrepreneurship and creative thinking. On our own we can achieve success, but for how long ? One needs people around him to bounce ideas back and forth, fuel his own motivation as well as to continue the task that he started when the going gets tough.
What is extremely important for this common energy to work and to be successful in the long term is for the rest of the team to be able to identify to the cause that you are fighting for. Are they directly involved ? What brings you together ? Does this experience make them grow as human beings ? Does this project embody their core values as well as their ideals ?
The contagious smile of Zoé, the familiar pain of broken families, the terrifying idea of outliving your own children, all this created a community of extremely close supporters of Zoé4Life. What I have witnessed when creating a community around a charity is that most supporters start out as strangers, continue as friends and finish as family.
We are stronger together.
“It takes two flints to make a fire.” -Louisa May Alcott
Through hardship appears the true nature of Men. Some may decide to heave to and let the storm pass, while others will adjust their sails and run with the wind. Yet as soon as deep, honest and truthful Love comes in the equation, we are capable of the greatest sacrifices the human kind has ever known. I have witnessed first hand how Love overcomes pain, grief and sorrow.
There are no words to describe the pain and bewilderment that I saw in the gaze of Zoé’s mother every time she had to use the past tense when describing her daughter’s life. I assume that the only thread that kept her mind sane was the love that was spread around her, by family and close friends.
Love creates a shield against despair, a lighthouse in the gale.
Through the loss of a young child, the bond in between family members may be torn apart because of delusion and grief, or may get a thousand times stronger than it used to be. I wish that these shattered families could find tenderness again, I wish family members could understand how much they mean to one another. Without Love, fear and misery will conquer.
Be aware of those you hold close to your heart and let them know, more often than sometimes, how much they mean to you. Call them for a few minutes instead of sending a text message…As you’ll read further down, no one knows how long we’re here for.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only Light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only Love can do that.”
-Martin Luther King Jr.
The day I learnt that Zoé had passed away was the day before I was supposed to run a 10km with her. The day I learnt that Zoé had passed away, I felt like the Sun had a gentler warmth on my skin. I felt thankful for being allowed to witness the Sunrise once again.
Be aware that for every sunrise there is someone, somewhere, begging the gods to let his daughter see the light of day just once more. For every sunrise there is someone’s life, somewhere, that became a sunset.
Originally published at medium.com