By Chris Chi
Sharing stories about us
Hello beautiful people!
A lot happened in 2023. A lot of nice moments, many travels, many encounters with beautiful people. Sadly, also a lot of unfortunate things. My husband passed away on Christmas eve. This brings me to a new realm of emotions and a new reality. Saying goodbye to someone that you have lived together for 18 years is anything but easy, but we have to. This is life, no matter how cruel it is, let’s hope we can find comfort in the memories.
It’s probably one of my favorite memories, meeting Nuno. I met him twice, both at the sea side. The first time, we met at the airport and drove to my hotel in Cascais. I remember he had to pump the tires on the way. The hotel where I stayed was Grande Real Villa Italia Hotel, a luxury resort hotel, facing the sea. Nuno was a beautiful man. His eyes were very expressive. His curly hair danced in the winds. It seemed only natural that he’s an actor as he had this quality that invited people to ponder his stories and experiences. The second time, we met on the other side of Lisbon, Almada. We drove out again to the beach. He took me up the cliffs where we walked naked, let the sun bathe our skin and let bodies sweat. The grounds were sandy, but covered by shrub, little white and yellow flowers. He again looked stunning, like a God. I wouldn’t be surprised that he might be one of the hero’s in ancient Greek or Roman legends. He had all the blessings of the Gods. He belonged there, the sea, the nature, the sunlight, the wind. Everything seemed perfect, embracing him, his naked body in his most natural form and environment. I can’t remember a more perfect sense of harmony between a man and the sea.
See you again – a letter to Jos
Death is our friend precisely because it brings us into absolute and passionate presence with all that is here, that is natural, that is love…— Oscar Wilde
You left in peace, with me beside your bed, Jos. You finally went to this better place that keeps you away from suffer and pain. Eternal peace is what you have now. The idea of it makes everything now slightly more bearable.
Nevertheless, waking up in the morning appears to be most difficult. Waking up in this place that we called our home, realizing you are gone and I am alone, then longing for your presence which was once prominent in my life.
I have gone through a variety of emotions in the last few days. Regrets, regrets that I didn’t spend more time with you, regrets that I didn’t manage to create more beautiful moments for you, regrets that you didn’t get the chance to enjoy more that life had to offer.
I tried to make sense of what had happened. The last days with you at the hospital made me realize how deep our connection really was, deeper than I had ever imagined and how much love we actually had for each other, more than I had ever dreamed of.
I keep on thinking about all that you have done for me, how you have protected and guided me from the very beginning until the end. Against all odds, I find beauty in this experience as it is so unique and it only belongs to us, you and me. This transcendence of love is the most precious gift that you could give me for the last time. Thank you, Jos.
I find comfort in it and the memories of you. Twenty years’ memories of us together will accompany me a long way. So, don’t worry about me. It’ll be difficult and I will break down, but in the end, I will be fine because I know this is what you have wanted. This is the promise that I made. I know you will be looking after me as you have always done. And you will be waiting for me until one day I meet you again. This is our promise.
Grief is the price we pay for love. Grief gives me strength to carry on.
Jos, rest now and I will see you again.
Your loving husband, Chris
AHMAD IN BRUSSELS
“There is no right and no wrong, the feelings that you feel now.” My psychologist told me during the first consultation after my husband left. I have been throwing myself into loads of things and plannings. It’s my anker now to keep going, but when nights falls, or when things get sorted out, the emptiness creeps out. I hate this feeling. What should I do? What can I do? Is it the right time? How will I feel? Questions pop up in my head, suffocating me.
I take refugee in photography. It has helped me to find purpose and make connections. Since september, I rarely picked up the camera again because my priority had shifted. Visiting hospitals and taking care of the household stuff took all my energy away. From time to time, I wanted to find courage to do something else, but never succeeded.
More than before, I want to photograph people again. I doubted if it’s too early. I guess I can only figure it out once I give it a try. I miss the encounters and the conversations. Photography is literally a bridge, an extension of people that it touches upon. It nurtures reflection and self-reflection, let alone revealing beauty in people and in life.
So I arrived at Ahmad’s place in cenral Brussels, not knowing how I would perform and feel. Fortunately Ahmad was very friendly and cool. His smile was very disarming. We started taking some photos and it went more and more smoothly. He seemed pleased too. Relieved that everything went quite well, I felt great.
We spent 1.5 hours taking photos. Even though it’s not the brightest day, we were lucky to have a bit of clear sky. The winter weather in Belgium is notoriously bad. It’s not that important anymore as I knew taking photos itself was. Ahmad was giving me his “naughty boy” look, followed by his signature “smile”. This made me laugh. He’s someone of complexity with a bit of mystery.
After the shoot, he made a cup of coffee. We started to chat. To my surprise, Ahmad is a nurse. He came to Belgium with his ex-boyfriend from Lebanon to work at hospitals here. Maybe it’s odd, but after what have happened, I have enorm respect and admiration for nurses. Those nurses at the hospital where my husband stayed did tremendous work to take care of him in his last days. So, knowing we just had a good photography sesion made it a bit special and even emotional.
FEATURED ARTIST: VraTKO BARCIK
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