BRUSSELS – In the Gallery Ravenstein in Brussels, Kristin Verellen has been making the final adjustments to a very special photo exhibit that is opening to coincide with the first anniversary of the suicide bomb attacks that rocked the city.
The photos were taken by her husband, Johan Van Steen, who died in Maelbeek subway station. The attacks on the subway and airport killed 32 people and injured more than 300 others.
Van Steen always wanted to show his work. The exhibition "Light and Shadow" is Verellen's tribute to him.
"I tried to realize his dream, and make his way of seeing things also visible for others. In a way, to finish better what has remained unfinished," she said. "This is a tiny, tiny selection of pictures. They were not ordered to present, so I had to go into his computer and it was like I was sucked in, not only of course in his pictures, but in our world."
After the bombings, Verellen searched hospitals for three days for her husband.
"The 22nd of March, believe it or not, is also my birthday. Yes. So, it meant that when it happened, all my friends were in the air. You know how it is, saying 'happy birthday' on the internet. So for me it was also easier to ask for help and immediately the house was filled with family and friends who helped to look for Johan," she said.
"This connection, this love that there was from the start, that's really helping me to go on," said Verellen, a psychotherapist who developed this circle of friends into an online civic forum called "We Have the Choice " for reflecting on the impact of violence.
"At the end of the circle we felt there was a lot of lightness, even joy. I was even laughing, even in the first days," she said. "Even in the sadness, desperation, fear."