So, today is Sunday, the last day before my potential departure.
There are so many different thoughts running through my head and yet I feel pretty numb inside. I find it very hard to focus and I am very grateful for all the lists I have compiled over the years which I just have to tick off now to get ready.
Mostly my thoughts and feelings center around my wife Carolin and her mother, who is 91 years old and very ill. I am not sure that I will see her alive again when I come back. Actually, I am pretty sure that I won’t.
Resi is the most positive person I know, followed by her daughter Carolin. Because of a hip injury, Resi had spent a year in bed as a child. She has lived through a world war, and as a member of the German minority had to flee her home country Hungary with her family when she was young. They came to Germany with close to nothing and had to rebuild a life as refugees from scratch. She had lost her husband to the long-term effects of torture during his time as a prisoner of war and a son to cancer.
There were so many reasons for her to give up or become bitter. And yet, she is always witty, loving, and kind. When I think about a resilient person, I think of Resi in all her fragility. I wish I had only 10 percent of that in me.
It feels selfish to even think about starting the tour now. Not because of Resi, she would have wanted me to continue my journey, but because of Carolin, a loving daughter who won’t have me by her side in a time of grief.
She has been taking care of Resi for the last few years silently and in a very loving, respectful, and humble way. For Resi’s 90th birthday, she had arranged for the entire family to travel with Resi to her hometown Many in Hungary, to celebrate. It was a truly special and memorable event that brought the extended family together. I also felt it brought closure for some of the wounds of the war trauma.
I know how much Carolin is carrying on her shoulders while taking care of her. I have the deepest respect and love for her. And once again, I am not sure that I would have the emotional strength to do what she does. Leaving her alone feels just awful.
Yet, it also feels wrong to stay and wait for what will inevitably happen sooner or later. So much work has gone into organizing this trip which is part of a much larger project. So many people are watching. So many friends are awaiting my arrival at their place. There are contracts with sponsors that have been signed. Our work at the Cosmikk-Foundation needs the donations that I will collect during the tour. There are public fundraising events lined up on a tight schedule and given the nature of my calendar, once I postpone, I am sure that I will not start this year’s trip at all.
And yet I know that all of this is completely meaningless when you are confronted with the death of a beloved person. I notice that I feel self-pity and I am ashamed of that feeling, too.
Phew. So, my current thinking is that I will say goodbye to Resi and the rest of the family today and start my tour on Monday as planned. My friend and bike mechanic Peter will drive me to the airport. By Wednesday, I will be on my bike cycling from Saskatoon in a south-easterly direction. There are about 900km without a major city until I arrive in Winnipeg, MA. From then on, I will be in the vicinity of major airports all the time which would allow me to hop on a plane and fly back home.
It still does not feel great. But it is what it is.