Punk pioneer Patti Smith and influential photographer Robert Mapplethorpe enjoyed a close, often intense relationship that began in 1967 when 20-year-old Patti moved to New York City. The pair hit it off immediately, and for the next seven years they lived together in Manhattan. In 1989, 22 years after first meeting and by which time they had long separated romantically but were still the closest of friends, Robert passed away some time after being diagnosed with AIDS.
In the days preceding his untimely death, Patti wrote her soul mate a letter—a letter which he sadly didn’t get a chance to read.
Often as I lie awake I wonder if you are also lying awake. Are you in pain, or feeling alone? You drew me from the darkest period of my young life, sharing with me the sacred mystery of what it is to be an artist. I learned to see through you and never compose a line or draw a curve that does not come from the knowledge I derived in our precious time together. Your work, coming from a fluid source, can be traced to the naked song of your youth. You spoke then of holding hands with God. Remember, through everything, you have always held that hand. Grip it hard, Robert, and don't let it go.
The other afternoon, when you fell asleep on my shoulder, I drifted off, too. But before I did, it occured to me looking around at all of your things and your work and going through years of your work in my mind, that of all your work, you are still your most beautiful. The most beautiful work of all.