Melissa Idil Beyazit, my sister, was born in Istanbul on January 3, 1993, to a loving family, Tülin (mother) and Latif (father). She was 10 years younger than me, but, over the years, she proved she had more wisdom than all of us. I often felt she was my elder sister.

She had a lovely childhood, surrounded by many friends, aunts, grandma, and stray cats and dogs in the streets of Istanbul and our pet friends in the family whom she loved a lot. I used to call her Elmyra, like the cartoon character. She loved to hug all the animals, but unlike Elmyra, her animal friends were not running away from her. Instead, they loved to be around her. It was merely effortless for her to bond with them. I believed her appreciation of the natural world was unique, something I had never seen before. She was a child of Mother Earth.

She encountered some health problems in early youth, had a pacemaker implanted when she was 14. Although this restricted her in many ways, she quickly overcame these barriers, adapting to her new life. Maybe she couldn’t do any sports that required stamina, but she danced, she laughed, she travelled.

After graduating from Galileo Galilei Italian High School in Istanbul, she took a year off attending an art studio where she improved her visual arts skills. The following year, 2013, she started Accademia Albertina di Belle Arti di Torino in Italy to study Artistic Design for Industry.

She was on her way to becoming an inspiring artist. She attended several exhibitions during her studies and took internships in many others. Her works have been exhibited in Barriera Torino, Aslı Çavuşoğlu workshop (2018), 7th International Student Triennial, Marmara University Cumhuriyet Museum and Art Gallery in Istanbul (2017), Accademia Albertina di Belle Arti, Jannis Markopoulos workshop (2017), HxBxP, L’Aquila in Italy (2016), Studi Festival Milano (2016) and the Third Istanbul Design Biennial (2016). In 2017, she defended her BA thesis, supervised by Professor Stefano W. Pasquini on the Esthetics of Protest (Estetica della Protesta), which she was inspired by the environmental movements all around the world.

She loved living in Torino. She was deeply immersed in the Italian culture throughout her high school education in Istanbul (2008-2012) and later in Italy (2013-2018). She started her Master of Arts (MA) also in Albertina Academy of Fine Arts in 2017. However, due to her health getting worse (she was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer in 2016), she had to leave her beloved Torino and move back to Istanbul in 2018.

She fit so many achievements in her short life. Her dream was to become a curator someday.

She touched so many people’s lives. Our family, her friends, our friends speak fondly of her, telling me how much they’ve learned from her.

Even when she lived with cancer in her last four years, she never lost her hope. She was loving and caring. In her final years in Istanbul, she would go out to cafés, exhibitions, theatre plays, stroll around with her dog Simba, meet new people and continue to be an inspiration for them despite the pain of the treatments she had been going through. After one of her major surgeries, she even climbed to the top of the Athena Temple in Assos (Turkey) with two elbow crutches, showing she had nothing to fear. She was a free spirit; she would do anything she had her mind set on.

I’ve always imagined the two of us growing old together and walking in the narrow alleys of a small Italian town holding on to each other – grey hair, flat shoes, and shopping bags, laughing, talking, and stopping on our way for an espresso and some gelato.

She was more than a sister to me, a true friend.

We are missing her deeply.

Ciao Melissa (until we meet again)

Eda Beyazit, 2020