Today, 28 years ago, my father was in a hospital in Munich, holding my mother’s hand, worried out of his mind, desperately waiting for his first and only child to be born. Today, exactly three months ago, my father was in a hospital in Istanbul, where doctors were desperately trying to safe him from dying. While my mother had my father’s child a few hours later tomorrow, 28 years ago, my father died on that very horrible day three months ago, on the 17th November, 2013.

Every year when the clock turned 12 at midnight and the 18th February arrived, my father thought of me. Every year, wherever he was in this world and wherever I was, I received a call from him shortly after. “Happy Birthday”, I hear him say. “I love you, Günniiiiiiiiiii”, I hear him add. Today, on the 17th February 2014, 3 months after my father died, I am sitting here paralyzed, desperately wishing to hold his hand, to hear his voice, scared of the clock turning midnight, not knowing what to do when it’s time for him to call. Because he’s never going to call again. Many people said to me: “Life goes on.” It’s true. But what is also true, and maybe one of the darkest, truest parts of the despair I’ve felt since my father has died, is that death also goes on. Every day. Every week. Every year. My father’s death goes on, it wouldn’t let me go, it won’t, for as long as life goes on. When those lovely people told me what they did, they wanted to help me see beyond my pain, and I love them for it. Yet, I’d love to tell them: Part of why death causes this tremendous amount of trauma is exactly because life dares to go on and force you to experience that lovely person’s death every day until it finally stops going on for you, too. Only when life stops to go on death will, too. That’s why, at least for me, life has developed this bitter taste to it that I had never tasted before my father’s heart stopped beating forever. It’s the bitter taste of death, my fathers absence, on any morning, any time of the day, any special occasion, may it be the happiest moment or the most insignificant. The only thing that changes is that I miss daddy more, because I haven’t seen him for too long, haven’t spoken to him or booked my next tickets to go and visit him soon. I have so much to catch up to with him, and he dares to just stay dead. Birthdays carry with them a particular pain for many people who have lost a loved one, and one of the reasons for that might be that birthdays scream in your face what you quietly suffer most of the time: that life dares to go on and your loved one’s death with it…

So tonight, at 12 o’clock, I’ll drink a Whiskey and smoke one of those incredibly strong Marlboro 100’s that I found on daddy’s desk, and I will think about just how lucky I am to have had 27 years of him thinking of me, holding me or calling me shortly after the clock turned midnight. There’s nothing one can do to change the bitter taste of life once one has tasted it, just like no one can ever return from the absurd once one has seen life without its clothes of arbitrary meaning, naked and inherently meaningless. “Man is always prey to his truths. Once he has admitted them, he cannot free himself from them”, wrote Albert Camus in his Myth of Sisyphus. But just as Sisyphus struggles for the rest of his life to carry the burden of meaninglessness, he finds happiness in the meanings he himself gives life on his struggle towards otherwise meaningless heights. Birthdays, weddings, children that are born or loves to be fallen into, or just everyday incidents like a stolen smile or a loving touch; all these events are heights that make life taste at least bitter-sweet again. For as we know: “The struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”

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