Letter from Claire Buckley to the Segals
Monday, December 7, 1998
Dear Jim and YoYo,
I am now in Sharm and have spent the last three days resting and reflecting and collecting my thoughts to write to you both. I'm sorry it took so long. I felt very out of the loop in Cairo and only recently got your email address from Stuart whose email address I found on one of Anton's recent emails to me. Then I was forwarded the letter you wrote to all his friends as well as the letter from Chris Bell.
Just walking around Sharm, Anton's spirit can be sensed at every turn. I have so many memories of being with him here. I am having a very hard time dealing with his death, but as you said on the phone Jim, we must remember the good times and thank God that we were lucky enough to know him.
A friend recently told me a story about how humans were first created as creatures with two heads, four arms and four legs. We were too powerful on earth so the Gods decided to split these creatures in half. And so began the search for one's life time partner. I have never felt so connected with anyone in all my life. I first met Anton in May 1996 when he came up to me and offered his hand saying "Hello, my name's Anton, I'll be your guide for the week." It turned out that he became my lifelong guide, my mentor as an instructor but also in the way I should lead my life. He was my comedian, boyfriend and soulmate. He was so cool to be able to balance the image of being one of the lads, which he truly was, with being at the same time a thoughtful, trustworthy, sensitive and committed partner in the best relationship I have ever had. He would not walk away from a dispute but instead would rather solve it and laughter would follow! He taught me to relax about my life, to strive only for goals that I would enjoy achieving. He had considerable taste and yet he was able to live in Egypt happily on the minimum of material possessions and this attitude was so different from the world I had come from in London. His intelligence shone through with his wit, imagination and his sense of the sublime and the ridiculous. What a sense of humour! His ability to recall stories at the drop of the hat, all retold with a switch of accents and a contorted face! I will always remember my time with Anton as the time that I laughed so much. I can see my happiness in my face in the photos of that time.
I know you are immensely proud of everything he had achieved and of the person he was. He always spoke of you with such affection, respect and love. He told me of how you both had met on the train in Japan and how you, Jim, had changed your plans to be with Yoyo. I'll always remember the family joke that he explained to me when giving presents, no matter what the item is, you encourage the receiver to "Try it OOOOOONN!" I will also never forget the wonderful time we had in Jordan, the wonderful walk around Petra, the Turkish bath, the sunsets, the Bedouin tent smoke out in Wadi Rum, the Pakistani meal in Aquaba, the Coloured Canyon in bare feet, Anton's fantastic photographs of desert scenery which we later put up on our wall and which I would love to see again some day.
I have spoken to many people about Anton, from his friends in Sharm to waiters in hotels and skippers on boats. They all say that he is unforgettable and he was truly loved and respected here. I do hope that his friends in the US know that they are always welcome here and I have heard how comforting it was to have Sam Archer with you at that terrible time. I myself do not want to impose on you at all but I am considering a trip to the US and I would love to meet you again to exchange some copies of my photos from his time with us here in Egypt as well as stories. I know it is difficult to organise a meeting for friends and family since we are all spread so far across the globe, but I want you to know that as a natural instinct for someone I loved so much, I feel the need to make this journey. Emails are so impersonal and can never replace the human contact needed in situations like this. The email from Chris suggested something in Boston and said that he would let us know. I could make this journey in early January but being a dive bum instructor my schedule is flexible. I will also understand if you feel that you both would rather reflect quietly and privately. I want you to know though that I would love to keep in touch with you and that I hope that when I grow up (!) and settle, possibly in Rome that you will come and visit me one day so that I can return the friendship, warmth and hospitality that you both showed me when you came to Egypt.
My parents Sarah and Paul, my sisters Suzie and Louise and my brother James are all thinking of you. My mother, a strict catholic (!) had a mass said for Anton at my beautiful local church, called the Sacred Heart in Wimbledon.
That's it for now. Funny stories are being re-brewed here and will be on there way if they haven't already arrived. Many of the "lads" are worried that they may offend you!! I said that you'd be hard to shock! It'Il probably be about booze, Anton running around naked getting into scrapes!! He certainly was not afraid to loose his trousers in a sort of "free as a bird", "Adam in the Garden of Eden" kind of way!!!!!!
I look forward to hearing from you if you have time.