"Where did the butterflies go?". This ordinary sentence was the starting point of this work. Pronounced distinctly by my two-year-old son during his restless sleep because of a heavy night fever, these few words triggered on me a long reflection on how we protect our children from the world. This reassuring cocoon, but unfortunately precarious, is inevitably meant to be broken by the hazards of life. Following these events of misfortune, our perception of the world is altered and we are forced to grow up, to get ourselves back together or to look at things through a new perspective.
Chrysalises presents anonymous stories about intimate events that changed people’s worldview. These events, transcribed as anecdotes, coexist with visual interpretations of suspended moments where the mundane seems to have shifted in a slightly different direction.
A few care series given by a shaman friend has opened a door to spirituality for me, allowing me to be at peace with myself as well as others and to better understand my place in this world. My life is not the same anymore as I see everything under new light.
I was born on the Reunion Island and when I turned ten years old, my parents decided to move out to metropolitan France. There, I faced another world, another galaxy altogether. At school, I felt like I did not fit in as I had an accent and people would point it out to me. It took me a long time to adapt and that academic year was the worst in my whole life. I truly struggled for many months.
I was nine when I fell in love with a girl from my class. It was funny, because I had known her for some time but that year, I don’t know why, her beauty fascinated me. She was also in love with me so it became "a big thing" when we were on recess. Everyone knew and was talking about it, which put a lot of pressure on us. I remember we would write each other love letters that we would leave in our respective school table drawers. At the end of the school year, one of her friends told her that I didn’t want to see her anymore. So she decided to do likewise. I never knew who told her such a stupid thing nor understood why she deliberately destroyed my first love.
I was between eight and ten years old. It was diner time and I was eating with my family. The phone rang and, I don’t know why, I answered. It was someone from Quebec talking to me, saying “guess who it is?”. I only knew one adult from Quebec so I thought it was him. Then, he started to say weird things. It was actually a pedophile who would call people, suggesting them to do things. Such as “touch your penis and tell me when it’s hard”. I found that weird but I kept on listening to him. I was uncomfortable but at the same time, I did not hang up. I kind of knew that what he told me was not normal at all but I was not sure at that time. I don’t have much recollection of the years after that event. It was only much later that I remembered this story.
Last year was the twentieth anniversary of my mom’s death. She was thirty-six and it was a Tuesday. I was in high school all morning. Everything was fine, my mother was healthy. At noon, we ate together with my parents, as we do every week. I left the house at two in the afternoon and, as I was in a hurry, I did not take the time to kiss my mother good-bye. When I came home late in the afternoon, the neighbor was there and asked me to follow her to her house because my mother had an accident. My father came a little while after, crying. It was first time I saw him break down. My mother had an aneurysm rupture. They flew her to the hospital by helicopter and during the next three days, my father went back and forth, from the hospital to our home. During this difficult time, I hoped that they would save her, keeping a picture of her in my hands. When my dad returned for good, he told me it was really over.
A few years back, my godmother passed away. She was sixty-one. She was a strong-willed woman, a go-getter who loved and cherished life. She had been hospitalized for a pneumonia, then decided to go back home for what was left of her time on earth. She asked the paramedics to leave her two minutes, so she could look at her beloved living room one last time. Shortly after, we helped her into her bedroom upstairs. She knew she would not get out. We spent the rest of the day with her, drinking her best bottles, bringing her whatever food she wanted etc. Before she went to sleep that night, she told me: "If this is what dying is like, I am okay to die twice". She never woke up.