EuropeStoryHold me till I go by Angelika Kollin

Katinka hung up the phone and sat still. Time was ticking faster than before, but not passing; how very abruptly and unannounced her future became her now. The calmness of her breath and the newly found weightiness of her long skinny legs startled Katinka.

Katinka hung up the phone and sat still. Time was ticking faster than before, but not passing; how very abruptly and unannounced her future became her now. The calmness of her breath and the newly found weightiness of her long skinny legs startled Katinka. Is this how she is supposed to feel after the conversation with Dr. Burn? Shouldn’t she do something? Anything? Worry, at the very least?

Instead, she just sat there. Alone, farther alone than she has ever been in her 74 long years. Silence of a kind setting sun invited itself into an immodestly open living room window, impatiently followed by a sharp sea breeze and dashing armies of insects, all fleeing the grasp of a budding night.

She lifted herself from the frayed whiny chair, leaning onto a pile of recently collected library books. “Books, so many books,” thought Katinka. She was now uncertain whether she still had enough time to become intimately close with them. She was unsure of everything suddenly. How very impossible it was for her to believe that a ten-minute phone call could change the days, weeks, and even months of her upcoming plans. She never knew that time could do that, and now she felt a hostage to it.

She stepped into the garden; where else was she to go? Life always made more sense in the blue shade of the now ancient lemon tree that she and her husband planted together on one of the soundless days following his ten-minute phone call. Taking inventory of all things that were patiently waiting for her sympathetic hand – a skewed swing, leaky pond pipe, contorted saplings, rebellious bed of radishes – she wondered if they already knew.

Delicate yellow, from the kitchen light on the second-floor window, suddenly spilled into the garden, covering drowsy branches of fruit trees and innocent sleeping grass with a blanket of buttery splendor. Tamsin, Katinka’s only child, came back from work and started preparing dinner. Memories carried Katinka to another warm and unsuspecting evening 11 years ago, when together with her husband, they were waiting for lights to come on in through the same window on the second floor.

She wished her garden a long goodnight and slowly started walking back towards the house. Surprised by her growing reluctance to go inside, she stopped; unable to make another move, she stood there feeling the cold climbing her frail legs and frostbites of dread, cowardly lingering in the tender night air, reaching for her. She was glad that it was dark, and she was alone; she didn’t want to be caught in the company of her fragility and helplessness.

She heard steps approaching her and the familiar light-toned voice of her daughter calling. Tamsin knew, from the moment she stepped outside to look for her mother; she recognized the silent ticking of the stopped time, the familiar outline of the dark but kind night, and the whispers of the drowsy branches sweeping around the faint scent of frailness.

She walked Katinka inside, and there they stood by the left open window, two women holding each other and facing the nameless night. [In memory of my dear friend Katinka who went home in February 2021]

A Note: “Hold me ‘till I go” is a series of portraits depicting 75-year-old Katinka Hall and her battle with cancer, taken in early 2020 between her chemotherapy sessions.

Katinka was a very close friend of Angelika, and knowing the state of her health, they felt a sense of great urgency to capture these moments. It was a time of significant challenges: facing and accepting the most likely and predicted outcome, despite the all-consuming desire to live. “She was the most Fearless woman I have ever photographed, and I am forever grateful to her for allowing me to be a witness to such a Sacred Moment” says Angelika.

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