atolls Indian Ocean Male Maldives

From my window seat on the airplane, I admired the iridescent blue-green glow of the sandbanks and coral atolls of the Arabian Sea. As the plane descended, I received a message on my phone. Dean had passed away. This very special, rare and beautiful person, who had been my partner years back when I lived in Montenegro, had unexpectedly left this planet early. Even after we parted, a strong bond had remained between us, and we had just spoken a few months earlier on New Year’s Eve.

We landed at Malé airport, and after a beautiful boat ride, I arrived at Farukolhufushi island in the Kaafu Atoll. I went straight to my room; a wooden bungalow on stilts in the water. Sitting on my bed, I gazed at the panoramic view of the Indian Ocean. To the sound of the waves stirring below the floorboards, my thoughts travelled back in time.

The sea had been an important part of my life with Dean. From my balcony in Montenegro, we had spent many days gazing at the Adriatic Sea and many nights watching the sky, counting shooting stars. We had often explored small unknown beaches and soaked up the iodine-filled air, or walked up the mountain rivers where coins and other remains from the Roman time were still to be found.

In what turned out to be his final years, Dean left his position as a doctor in Virpazar, a picturesque village at Skada lake, for one on Italian cruise ships sailing the Caribbean and Mediterranean. Water had remained a vital element to him.

Sitting in my bungalow, I felt the profound absence of this unique being who had spread his wings and soared up to the Universe. I suddenly felt moved to ask out loud if he was here; if he could show me a sign? If anyone could give a sign from the other side, it would be him. Dean had often had precognitive dreams and for him the veil between the seen and unseen was very thin.

I waited, alert, but nothing happened. Overwhelmed by jetlag, I locked up the bungalow, drew the curtains and fell asleep to the sound of the waves.

In the middle of the night, I was awoken by a fierce wind. A floor-to-ceiling window had opened wide to the sea and the curtains were fluttering. I got up and closed the window, puzzled, as I had deliberately closed all the windows before going to sleep.  I returned to bed and dozed off again.

Waking up the next morning, I was still in bed enjoying the sea view when I received an e-mail with Dean’s eulogy posted in a Montenegrin newspaper. It was a poetic tribute to his life by a colleague who had been on a quest to understand just who Dean really was. Who was this worldly and highly educated man with elegant manners, seemingly living in an unusual world of his own and highly sensitive to beauty? Always telling anecdotes, the truth of which no one was ever sure. A man who would share travel notes, photographs, epistolatory exchanges with the European jetset mix of culture, business and politics.  He was passionately interested in arts, hunting and petrology.

Dean’s enigmatic spirit and poetic tendencies were perfectly captured by the eulogy which ended: “I was told that, from numerous trips around the world, Dean had written on a postcard to a friend: ‘Open the window, I’m coming with the wind.’”*

*In Montenegrin the more poetic meaning is “when you feel the wind, you feel me.”

Dean beach Adriatic Sea Montenegro

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