“This is a selfish blog. Created by myself. For myself. If you want to read it, you are free to do so. But this is my way of dealing with this situation,” so began Kristian Gidlund’s blog “I kroppen min” (In this body of mine) in March 2011, shortly after having been operated for stomach cancer at the age of 27.
Little could the musician from Borlänge rock band Sugarplum Fairy have then known that by the time his fight to beat the cancer that had ravaged his body would end less than three years later, his blog would have attracted some 8 million visitors and been published in book form.
“Kristian Gidlund is gone, his fantastic book is lying by my bed. This damn unfair cancer. This anonymous pest,” was how “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” actor Mikael Nyqvist greeted the news of his death on Tuesday.
While his blog was started to chart a journey towards death it became, perhaps inevitably, at least as much about life and in one particularly profound post he dedicated a message to the child he knew he would never have.
“I would try to inspire you to think for yourself. Beyond the expected. And I know that you would inspire me. You already do.”
“We would climb trees, you and I. And when you wanted to climb a little higher, I would try to let you. But I would stand beneath you with my arms outstretched and with a throbbing pulse.”
Gidlund has said that he had always wanted to be a correspondent reporting from war zones across a troubled world. He has explained that his blog had in some form become his way of fulfilling that dream – except his war zone was not a place, it was his body.
“I am not writing so that one should cry over what I am saying. It feels more that I have landed in a front line which I have to report from. I am like an adventurer in an unknown jungle with access to a remarkable telegraph that I have to use,” he told the Svenska Dagbladet daily in 2013.
Judging by the outpouring of public sentiment following his death on Tuesday afternoon, this telegraph had become a beacon for a broad spectrum of Swedes. Gidlund had for some attained an almost messianic guru status, a development which he consistently sought to diffuse.
“I am just a guy who happens to have got cancer, nothing else,” he said in his hugely popular talk programme on Sveriges Radio in the summer 2013.
This honest, humble, poetic, message made Kristian Gidlund’s personal fate comprehensible for a wider audience. His writing has provided a lasting legacy and a reminder that life is not something worth waiting for.
Editor’s Note: The Local’s Swede of the Week is someone in the news who – for good or ill – has revealed something interesting about the country. Being selected as Swede of the Week is not necessarily an endorsement.
Peter Vinthagen Simpson