‘Irene Aigle Papavassiliou’, 2018. Watercolour and pastel portrait. I met Irene when she was 13, I was 16 and going out with her brother which I did for 8 years. We were family, she was like my really annoying younger sister (did I mention really annoying?!). It wasn’t easy to be so close to you all the time living together, holidays etc and though you always pushed me away (as your brother’s gf who was always always at your house!) I always cared about you, I always wanted to help and support you. At a point I did not know what to do with you anymore as I could not get through to you. You were constantly hurting me, your family, your self and predators did the same. But sometimes I saw glimmers of what I felt was the real you, your wonderful caring heart, your fantastic laugh, your empathy; and so intelligent either way. I knew you already had been through a lot in terms of mental health by the time I met you but as we got older I only saw the effects of and dangerous coping mechanisms of what was happening without knowing what traumatic things were happening in your life. I did not understand. I always thought you would not stop until you burned out- but I always imagined you would live to be a wonderful mother, I never thought you would be left with the only option but to take your life aged 25. I thought you were getting better but you were resolute you would not be able to live independently and now we must unselfishly accept your decision. I hope I have caught some your light in this portrait. You will never fade away and your spirit lives on. I will look for you in the trees.

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