Love never dies
The story behind this illustration is incredibly sad and covers a spectrum of emotions that I can't begin to comprehend, yet this wonderful family, for whom I created this piece, have had to.
On the 29th December 2015, I received a text from my Dad to say that his friend and colleague, Jeroen, had been tragically murdered outside of his house in London. Jeroen had just stepped outside to post some announcement cards following the birth of their beautiful baby girl, Fleur - just a weeks before. What should have been a magical time was cut short into unimaginable pain.
I couldn't begin to grasp the horror of this situation. And yet, here I was, out skiing, in the sunshine, listening to my music with my legs freely swinging from the chairlift. It didn't seem right. I had been worrying about skiing exams and feeling frustrated with my progress and all of that became quickly laughable in an instant. I vowed in that moment, that if there was one thing I could do, it was to enjoy this day and all that lay before me as much as I could.
Since then, my Dad has written some letters to Fleur with stories about adventures with her father. They immediately bring me to tears. I don't know how Nadja copes. Yet she does. I follow her journey on instagram with glimpses into the highs and lows of her day - and I realise that this is a tiny glimpse of the vast extent of her highs and lows.
I felt helpless watching her journey, but I thought if I could make a difference, I would love to. I offered to create an illustration for Fleur. If it might help brighten her world in any way, I'd be more than happy to do this - just say the word. Nadja accepted my offer, and she provided me with a brief which was eloquent, touching, and endlessly positive. What also shone through were the joyous requests of including pink and unicorns on behalf of a young girl, with Fleur now 4.
While I worked on this, people mentioned that it would be a tricky brief for me. I couldn't have disagreed more. Certainly there was pressure to get it right, but I feel that with every illustration commission. Despite such a devastating reason for creating this, it felt so full of inspiration, full of love and life, connection and hope. Nadja wrote in a recent post "love never dies' And that's exactly what I wanted to capture. They are never alone, Jeroen is with them in so many ways. I am totally honoured to be a part of their lives via a pencil & paper. Their courage and grace has certainly left an imprint on mine.
Nadja has recently become certified as a trauma and grief coach and is now helping widowed mums choose life after loss. She can be found on instagram at @nadjaensinkteich Journey Of a Widowed Mom