I’m staying in Casa Duende in San Miguel de Allende where Chris and I once spent the best part of a month together, working side by side. Casa Duende means House of Spirit (in many senses of the word) and Chris and I certainly shared a joyful, passionate, and intense time in this glorious house, tucked away in the old part of town.
Chris got here a week before me and greeted me at the gate when I arrived with huge excitement and a very large Margarita. She painted every day under Leigh Hyam’s watchful gaze and I wrote several chapters of my first book while we were here. It was such an enjoyable and productive experience that it came to symbolise for us the honouring of our creative lives as artist and writer. Later we sometimes put a week or two aside to “do a Mexico” at home (including the Margaritas).
I knew after Chris died that I had to come back here to remind myself of that period and of the place that had so nurtured our creativity, and to leave some of her ashes here in the garden. Leigh Hyams’ daughter Gina who owns the house graciously agreed and made it possible for me to stay in the house while I’m here. This afternoon, I found a quiet spot close to the studio in which Chris painted and with as little disturbance of the soil as possible, I mixed a few handfuls of ash into the loam at the foot of a tree and replaced the large stone that had covered the spot.
I bought the little clay figure in the picture earlier today from a craft shop in town. Death is celebrated as part of life in Mexico and the dead are made welcome in our lives at all times, not just during the three-day festival of La Dia de los Muertos. After the brief ritual in the garden, I left her to commune on Chris’s behalf with the spirit of Leigh who lived here and died three years ago.
Although this place has much to do with Chris the artist, today I chose to say farewell to Chris the enthusiastic enabler and supporter of other people’s creativity. When we got married, her first vow to me was: I will encourage, support and dare you in your creativity – so that you grow fully and magnificently into yourself. I’ll be your best cheerleader.
She was and she still is the best supporter I’ve ever had.
Thank you, sweetheart.
See you around !