For Julia Engelhorn life divides into the Before and After.
There was a time Before, when her life was filled with the joys and struggles of parenthood, when she was run off her feet trying to take care of a seven year old and three year old twins Octavia and Maximo. And then there was a time After, when her world was encased in darkness, when there was only one child left and she had become a member of a club that no one wants to join.
This is the story of her Before and After – a story of healing after unimaginable loss.
‘I never thought Mario was capable of what he did,’ says Julia. ‘I knew why he did it. He told me. He wanted to make me suffer for what I had put him through. I just never understood how. How does a father do that?’
On 6 April 2016 Julia went to pick up her three children from the rental home of her ex-husband where he had been taking care of them over the Easter holidays.
Although it had been a difficult couple of years Julia hoped that now the divorce was finalised they could get their relationship on a better and more stable footing for the sake of the children. Nothing could have prepared her for what happened that day.
On arrival to the house Mario told her to pick up a knife because he intended to kill her. When she asked what was happening he said he had already killed their twins. Julia’s world shattered in that moment, she ran to the bedroom where she thought her children were asleep only to find them both dead. And her own life in mortal danger. She escaped through climbing out of a fourth floor window and shimmying down the drainpipes while Mario attempted to flee in her car. Thankfully he had left their eldest son César unharmed. Later that day, Mario was apprehended by the police and jailed.
And so began the long wait for justice.
Julia was left to try to make sense of incomprehensible loss of her twins and to help her surviving son through the pain of his siblings’ death. She started writing letters to the twins as she unravelled the series of events that had led up to the catastrophic loss.
And she started to understand that the man she had married was never the person she thought he was. Behind Mario’s charming, suave and chivalrous exterior lurked the heart of a narcissist, a man so aggrieved by the rejection that he thought of nothing but revenge. Julia struggled through the days, trying to make sense of the senseless. During this time she learned about Kintsugi, the ancient Japanese technique of repairing broken pottery with golden glue, valuing the beauty of the broken object because of its imperfections. And she wrote letters to her twins. The wheels of justice turned slowly but the evidence mounted and by the beginning of 2019 a date was set for the start of Mario’s trial.
But on 14 January 2019, in one final of defiance, Mario took his own life in jail.
Kintsugi - The Art of Precious Scars is Julia’s inspiring story of how she put herself back together again after being broken apart by unthinkable loss. It is about finding a way through impenetrable grief and learning to love, laugh and sing again.
‘The scars I carry with me, inside me, are a reminder of what I have survived. From the broken pieces of my old self, something new was created, just as beautiful, but different.’
Katy Weitz believes that most people have an extraordinary story to tell and she specialises in bringing them to the public's attention. She started her career as a Feature Writer on the national newspapers 18 years ago and within a few short years, rose to become Features Editor. In 2005 she left to set up her own real-life story agency First Features Ltd and since then has sold stories to all parts of the national and international press as well as television. With a remarkable empathy for her clients, she quickly saw that some had stories which couldn’t be told completely in 1500 w...
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Julia Engelhorn is a 40-year-old artist and the mother of four children, two of whom are still alive. Julia comes from an unusually privileged background as the sale of her grandfather Curt Engelhorn’s pharmaceutical business in 1997 made the family very wealthy. Born to a German father and Spanish mother, Julia and her three sisters were raised first in Switzerland and then in the UK. She studied Hospitality and Tourism at Strathclyde University before moving to Barcelona to further her education. It was there, at the age of 22, she met her future husband, Mario Deus, a maxillofacial...
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