My friend Cordula Volkening passed away last Wednesday, April 22nd. With her one of the most inspiring people I have known went to the 'other side', continuing her journey. She was diagnosed with advanced brain cancer in the summer of 2007 and right away started to paint, something she was educated in and then had paused with for almost two decades because financial realities let her develop other skills - and always the art in mind - in order to raise her two wonderful children, Skye and Eden. She often saw her illness as a blessing, because the most amazing paintings literally started flowing from her heart onto the canvas. One after another. She would only stop when physically too challenged by various medical treatments and operations. Her acceptance, strength and courage and her paintings from over the last two years have touched so many lives that The New York Times and German FAZ took notice.
I am blessed with having known her for more than three decades and I am blessed with knowing her brother Wolf-Dieter, her children and the exceptional people who cared for her and helped making her last weeks and days as comfortable as possible. I know she felt very safe with them.
And I am very blessed with having known her sister Marina, with whom Cordula is now reunited.
The photo (above) has always been one of my favorites, with Cordula sitting on the left amongst a group of our close friends, and which I took some 30 years ago in Paderborn, Germany (where we met years earlier as teenagers). We tried to simulate an old style family portrait. If I remember correctly, we had to borrow some jackets and shirts for the shot. When I was about to take the picture, somebody came through the door on the left (outside the frame), disturbing the scene. That is what I like about the image, it turned out different and better than what I had planned. Cordula painted like that. The images 'came' to her. I found this old b/w print just two weeks ago, I had not seen it in a very long time. No coincidence. Cordula gave me this small painting (top) and it will be on my wall until...