Up to ten minutes ago I didn't know who the heck was Rémi Ochlik. But now I know: a young guy and photographer, a lucky, happy guy, who was killed hours ago as he was covering a war.
Right after his girlfriend, Blàchere, learned that he got killed, she wrote him this letter:
I’ve never found it so difficult to write. My dictionaries are useless. I can already hear you saying, “Sweet Blachère.” So instead I made a list of everything I loved about you.
My angel, my love:
I loved it when you made lists of things you wanted, and you wanted a Harley Davidson, a loft, a 22,000-euro titanium Leica, and you would say to me, “What? You work at Paris Match, don’t you?”
I loved it when you called me Blachère, or Blacherounette, when you had something you wanted to ask me.
I loved it that you wanted to find a country just for the two of us where we could go every year together on assignment.
I loved it when you talked about the arts, and painting, and literature, and I couldn’t understand a thing. You taught me so much.
I loved it how in the field you would sink into the shadows, making people forget you were there so you could take better pictures.
I loved to see you look every morning at photo sites and hear you say, “Look at what they’re doing. I suck, Blachère.”
I loved it when you recorded L’amour est dans le pré for us and we watched it curled up under a blanket like teenagers, with our kitten between us. You kept saying, “You better not tell anyone about this.”
I loved watching you make me coffee every morning, and after eight months, it was actually good!
I loved it when you said you wanted to have two children, a boy and a girl.
I loved it even more when you pestered me in front our friends about having kids: “Look at Thib, Mat, Fred. Their girls are cool, and they’re pregnant!”
I loved it that you decided you wanted to go to Libya, Nigeria and Burma, then Syria, then Tulles, all within five minutes.
I loved it when you told me, “Blachère, you’re making me childish. I’m becoming like you.”
I loved it when I said that you were the best photographer in the world and you said, “Well, you’re biased.”
I loved to see you blush when I told you I was crazy about you.
I loved our routine, our life together, the nights we’d stay up late watching Dexter. I was smiling so long as I was next to you.
I loved it how at night you would take out your contact lenses and put on your thick glasses. I’d call you Harry Potter and you hated it. You called me Emilie.
I loved it when you told me that you didn’t miss me at all.
I loved it when you told me you were jealous of Eric, of Ivan, of Pierre, jealous of everyone, even Marcelle, my cat.
I loved it when you kidnapped Marcelle when I was on assignment and took her home so she would get used to your cat, and we could all live together, one happy family.
I loved it when you were scared to meet my mother.
I loved it when you took me to Honfleur, and we stopped along the highway and ate a Mars bar and drank a Coke.
I loved it when you told me, “I’m ugly, Blachère, you’re blinded by love.”
I loved it when you left your toothbrush at my house. I took a picture of it and showed it to my girlfriends. I almost posted it on Facebook.
I loved how stroked my leg at red lights on your scooter.
I loved it how you held me tight in the morning, then again at night, as if we had been apart for months.
I loved watching you smoke at the window. You were so sexy. But like you said, I’m biased.
I loved to hear you say to Julien, your best friend, your brother, “Look out, Mama Squirrel’s here,” when I was waking up.
I loved it when you said at first, “Julien’s my wife, you’re my mistress.” After two months, it was the opposite. Sorry, Julien.
I loved your timid smile, the way you laughed, your almost feminine delicacy, your juvenile tenderness.
I loved it how you texted me every five minutes to ask me to marry you, with emoticons and all. We promised each other we’d get hitched in Las Vegas.
I loved it how you left me love letters in my notebooks when you came over to feed Marcelle.
I loved your courage, your admiration, your rigor. I’m so proud of you, my angel. I admired you as a photojournalist and as a man. You’ve become so big.
I loved it when you told me, “Blachère, we have our whole lives ahead of us.”
I loved to hear you tell me how everything was going to be alright when I was depressed. If only I could hear you tell me that today.
I loved it so much how on February 10, a Friday, the last time we saw each other, you told me that I made you happy.
I could go on. I would have loved to spend my life adding to this list. Ochlik, I loved you. I hope you know up there that I was more than happy by your side. I was in bloom. With you, things were lovely, sweet, and surprisingly intense. Our time together was magic. We were so happy that we had to protect it from the invasions of our profession, our passion, our second love.
We were prepared for everything, except for the worst. Ochlik, I don’t know how I can go on without you. In Rome, you told me, “love is a weakness.” You were wrong. Today I feel strong. At Christmas you gave me a notebook and told me to, “write down the story of our lives and read it to our kids.” I promise that I will tell the story of that life we dreamed of so often, a life that I’m now going to have to live for two.
I’m not sure if you miss me, Ochlik. I miss you. Madly.
But I know that you are here. Inside of me. Near me. Near us. Today our nickname, Blachlik, makes sense.
One day I’ll join you, my love. But not yet. You would hate to see me give up, let myself fade away. So I’m drying my tears, and watching your favorite movies on repeat, the ones that made you happy, like Singin’ in the Rain, and...
I'm singin' in the rain
Just singin' in the rain,
What a glorious feeling,
And I'm happy again.
I'm laughing at clouds
So dark, up above,
The sun's in my heart
And I'm ready for love.
I’m sure you’d rather see us pay you tribute by staying up all night drinking and smoking. Don’t worry, it will happen, and the night’s not over yet.
My angel, give Lucas a kiss for me. Take care of yourself. Take care of us.