A year after Bibian Mentel’s death, husband Edwin unravels her secret | Instagram

Snowboard star Bibian Mentel passed away a year ago. Today a book about her will be published, in which her husband Edwin unravels her secret with help: how did Bibian stay so positive in the face of so many setbacks?

Carla van der Wal

Latest update:
28-03-22, 18:32

This week they are on a glacier. Edwin Spee, Bibian Mentel’s husband, and son Julian. Then they say goodbye one last time to the athlete whose body gave up because of the cancer that raged in her body and kept coming back, but whose mind could not be broken. From the top of that high mountain in Hintertux, Austria, where Bibian trained so much, they will scatter her ashes.

A book about Mentel will also be presented today. Edwin made it together with comedian Peter Heerschop, with whom he tried to unravel that one secret: how did Mentel stay so positive, while she was also so terribly against?

amor fati

Part of that mystery is contained in ‘amor fati’, Bibian’s slogan that Edwin had tattooed on his arm after her death. Love for fate, the inevitable. It had Bibian. “She saw that life was still beautiful, even when her leg was amputated, even when she ended up in a wheelchair. She just kept enjoying it until the very end.” Bibian’s lesson that on a new road, even if you don’t really want to go down it, so many beautiful things can wait, has only become more important for Edwin since the death of his wife. He thinks of her motto when things don’t go well for him, when he misses her.

And then Edwin knows: it is true what Bibian said. Yes, he certainly felt that difficult last year, which he saw go by with mixed feelings. ,,There were new memories and experiences, beautiful ones, but also the lack of Bibian. Now that her death anniversary is so close, only more mixed feelings are added. That is why I decided not to join talk shows to talk about the book, but to flee the Netherlands and scatter her ashes together with Julian.”

Bibian Mentel wins gold, and celebrates with her husband Edwin Spee. © Photo: SCS/Mathilde Dusol

On that mountain, the place where they went so often in the summer to find the snow for Bibian’s training sessions, they know that her legacy is safe. The first Bibian Mentel Playground will soon be opened, a playground where children with and without disabilities can go together. She thought it was fantastic. And her life lessons are documented in 128 – Bibian Mentel, winner of so much more than gold. The number refers to the number of medals, the rest to everything she gave to the Netherlands.


Her positivity, which can be found in the book in interviews, quotes and letters, became an example for many, but also ensured that her family could pick up again when Bibian was no longer there. “Having passed on her strength made the past year easier. When I spoke to a boyfriend of mine, who, like many others, also thought that I had actually found a new girlfriend too quickly, I told him that Bibian had found it too late. ‘Collect memories, not possessions’ is still one of her best sayings. Bibian wanted us to live on. Her greatest pleasure would be for the kids and I to enjoy it again – her greatest concern was whether that would work. Just because life is so short. Although of course there are also moments when sadness overtakes you.”

It happens immediately. When Edwin explains how nice it is to notice that now, after a year, there is more and more room for happy feelings, which are part of the memories of Bibian that also make him sad since her death. It is better to feel the joy of then, which is hidden behind the sadness, Spee says. Suddenly it’s there: the lump in his throat, the sob in his voice. “Suddenly I get goosebumps. Because I miss her a lot too.”

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