Did you know a pacemaker never flatlines? Of course, you think. But I forgot sitting next to my father in the hospital. We all did. He had left us as we were by his side and we never noticed.
Only when the nurse came in to turn off the machine, whom we tried to convince that he was still alive because we could see his heart beating on the monitor.
With all the words that flow out of me on a daily basis, there are none, to begin with, and describe that moment of losing your most beloved person in life. Perhaps denial comes close.
My father was a proud man in life, a lion always roaring but with a heart of gold. He had greatness all over him, and it showed when he passed away. His death was sudden and harsh.
I had never lost a loved one before. I never lost 35 years of foundation and identity. It is true that 4 years later the torture of missing him is as present as the day we lost him.
The pain and feeling of emptiness are comparable to the waves of the oceans; with time there is more space between waves, but they are as overwhelming as ever. Death is a brutal wake-up call and at the same time a blessing.
I hesitated writing this blog as talking about my father’s passing is something I rarely do let alone writing. Fours years later it is time to reveal the real source of my inspiration and passion in life by honoring his legacy.
It is through his legacy that lives within me that I want to share my reasons for celebrating his life as part of a series of articles.
Reason one: death is fear and freedom at the same time
For as long as I remember I feared death, it was something that scared me as I was unable to grasp that one day I would be alone God knows where and without my family.
As cliche as this may sound, accepting death will set you free. Knowing that our life on earth is finite and acknowledging the impermanence of everything life throws at you helps you find your voice, define your success and priorities in your own life.
The reason why I embrace my fear and reach for the sky is that I know I will die. And I do not want to die with regrets.
My father had a tough life as an immigrant who moved to The Netherlands in the ’70s. He was a man of greatness and pride but took a job as a shoemaker to provide for his family. He never truly enjoyed life and worked as hard as he could until he was physically unable to.
Even though he passed away peacefully like an angel, he left this world with regrets. I will honor his legacy and will live without regrets for the both of us.
Reason two: from slave to queen
With a disclaimer up front, I am by no means comparing myself to the suffering slavery has caused and unfortunately still is the case in several parts of the world. My definition of a slave in this context is being self-imprisoned. Deep and ambiguous right?
For the most part of my life, I held myself back and let people’s opinion define me. Fortunately, I have always had a burning fire in me to do things that seemed impossible and just went on and do it. Just like the slogan of Nike.
Even if I continued to push boundaries I never thought I could push through — I never believed in myself. Who was I kidding, a Dutch-Morrocan nobody working at NATO and defying status quo in all senses? Yeah, right I kept thinking, and always worked harder and harder to prove myself over and over again.
Until I lost him, him who despite his high expectations for me loved me just the way I was. I finally realized that I am my slave and it is time to become my queen.
People will treat you the way you allow them to treat you.
Becoming my queen was a long and challenging journey, but I am reigning and continue to be a disruptive force for the good. I take it as a compliment when others say that I am full of myself.
Only when you are full of yourself and when your cup is in overflow can you help others to stay full of themselves and strive in life. Oprah’s wise words!
Reason three: be present here and now
I was allergic to anyone or anything related to meditation. To me, it seemed like a bunch of spiritual gurus who lived in another virtual reality or came from a different planet. If you are like me, your mind never stops. Thoughts come and go 24/7, and it is exhausting as sleep deprivation kicks in.
So trying meditation was my last resort as I did not know what a good night of sleep meant for years. Little did I know that meditation did not only enhance my sleep, but it also improved my life both professionally and personally.
Meditation comes in many forms, and for me it meant learning how to quite my mind, let go of my thoughts and be present in the now and here. By doing this consistently, my creativity, confidence, and self-awareness are at an all-time high.
Many people like my father die reminiscing about the past, worry about the future and never having lived life. Your brain is always wired to achieve more when you set expectations. Think about it. How many of us think they will be happy only when they get that job? Or when they meet a prince or princess charming? Or when they have kids? When you attain your expectations, you will always want something else as it is only momentary happiness.
True happiness is when you focus on the right now and here and enjoy what you have instead of focusing on what is missing in your life.
Abundance and gratitude go a very long way in living a fulfilled and happy life.
There are many more reasons I will share later on through a series of articles dedicated to my late father. I hope that through his legacy you will feel inspired to live your life right here and right now.
Life is a curse and a blessing at the same time, don’t let it slip through your fingers.