I have not posted in about a week and I, honestly, have had way too many thoughts and emotions in the past week to even consider writing about the things I normally post about on here. My family lost a very special 26 year old cousin of mine, a husband, a son, a brother and friend to many on March 9th and I have never experienced something so devastating in my life before. I couldn’t go on with my normal posts without getting some of my thoughts out onto paper (or computer) about what has been overtaking my entire mind and heart the past week.
Nick was my friend since I was a baby. I would consider him my very first friend, actually. We were cousins who were the same age and the best memories I have of my childhood are moments spent with him. He was the most laid-back, funny, caring, sweet, fun, polite, smiling person I have ever known. He would make the best jokes and had this unique wonderful laugh that anybody who knows him would smile about! Our families would go on beach trips and camping trips together and Nick would be my partner in crime. He thought of the most fun and creative ways to find joy in the outdoors. I have the most vivid memories of us playing hide and seek in his back yard, shooting water guns, playing the most imaginative games, throwing a Nerf Vortex to each other over and over, floating on rafts in the ocean waves, and just exploring nature as kids. He would quote the movie “Big Momma’s House” and I would laugh so hard. His parents raised an angel and I know that saying they are proud would be a huge understatement.
As we grew older, our families began to go on fewer beach trips together which was sad but we eventually both ended up going to NC State University. He graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering which I always thought was so impressive and so “Nick”. He would always be putting something together or creating some sort of fun game using what he had. He married a beautiful woman who is one of the strongest women I’ve ever known. Weeks after their wedding, he was told the terrible news that he had cancer. Over the next year, his family went through more than I could ever fathom. After a 16 hour surgery to remove a 25 pound tumor and intense chemotherapy, he fought that cancer and he will always be known as a true hero for that. His sister told us that he never once complained during this entire journey and always stayed positive throughout the whole thing which would surprise me about anyone else, but not Nick. Nick always stayed positive and always lifted up others. He continued to overcome obstacles such as being able to walk again and kept a smile on his face the whole time.
I’m sharing this with you all for a few reasons. This weekend was absolutely life-changing to me. I know that every single person at his service on Saturday left wanting to be a better person and wanting to be more like Nick. I’ve never seen such a moving and love-filled room with so many people who’s lives he touched. He went through the toughest situations and still kept smiling, never once with a complaint. He found joy in the simple things – nature, being outside, being with family. If we all lived the way Nick did, the world would be a much better place. I honestly believe he was an angel on this earth and the sweet testimonies on Saturday at the service confirms it. His 4th grade teacher even went up and said the sweetest words about him impacting her life. That says so much! I could go on and on with all of the thoughts that I’ve had this past week but I just wanted to remind others of what I learned before it might be too late. Be thankful for your health and family everyday. Keep a smile on your face. Trust in “The Man”. Think twice before complaining about the small things. Enjoy nature. Be kinder. Give big hugs. Be more like Nick.
I will forever honor him by trying to live more like he did. He will always be my first friend I had and it was a blessing I got to spend so many fun and memorable times in my life with such an incredible angel.