Saturday 4 September 2010

Goodbye Nicci

(Nicci at the Bird Cafe in Bree Street. Pills and pain meds before coffee and cake.)
Nicci, love,
It's been two days since I saw you last. Jacques and I have spent the weekend at home. Cocooning. Being kind to one another. Maxi has made us laugh with his antics and constant demands to play. The sun is shining and I wish it wouldn't. But I'm wearing turquoise today. Jacques commented on it, he's so tired of my basic black. I'm trying to decide on what to wear for your funeral this week. You told me I had to wear colour and I warned you that you had to stay alive a little while longer, because I'm too fat for brights. Weirdly enough, I thought I'd be thinner by the time you died. As if it mattered, as if you wouldn't want my body with all it's flaws, with my round belly, and too-round thighs and cellulite-in the-bad-light-legs instead of your own leukemia-ridden, painful body. And I felt so guilty about my own issues, my own sadness at your dying. You had to live with it. I was only a witness.
I told you on Friday that your life would not go unnoticed. Did you hear me, my darling? I thought I saw you trying to focus on my face and your breath changed. But perhaps it was only the morphine...I hope you heard me. I hope you heard me tell you that during these last four years of your life, four years in which you battled adversity, and grief, and heartbreak, and pain with such style, you still brought me and those who loved you such joy. So much laughter. So much happiness.
Connie arrived at the hospital, but by then you had already gone. She was clutching orange blossoms from their garden because she wanted you to smell them one more time before you died. It was the saddest thing. I hope you caught their fragrance as your spirit left us. That this is the scent you will remember.
I know there will be a wake for you this week, with lots of flowers and alcohol. Because you've left strict instructions to do so. I hope you'll watch over us that you aren't too busy catching up with your dad, and your sister-in-law and the grandma into whose grave you poured a bottle of gin and a few cans of tonic. It will be a shame to miss a party dedicated to you. God, I'm being stupid, you'll be there, you liked the fuss and drama way too much to miss it. Remember the afternoon we laughingly planned your funeral, how you said that if you were going to die, you wanted it to be a Visi-affair. And then how we cried with laughter at the macabre thought of Sumien, and Cornelia and Tina-Marie hauling fabric swatches around trying to match your deathly pallor, and the manic styling of it all, and Johan penning beautiful words? You adored those creative people, loved working with them all.
A few of us got together on our roof on Friday night, one by one your friends arrived carrying bottles of wine. We ordered take-away pizza and we cried and we laughed and we spoke of you. Then Douw got out his phone to call you. Before we remembered. And then things got a bit quieter for a while. Sadder. Bianca and Sonja and Plush smoked a lot. Rather desperately. And Jacques drank too much. I felt disconnected. But we toasted you. And your life. And your laughter. And the colour that always surrounded you. And we realized that each and every one around the table had met one another through you. Thank you for that Flower Girl.
It was a gorgeous, warm spring night. And we stayed up there on the roof till the early hours of the morning. But the stars weren't out. There was a light cloud covering them. All night long. As if the heavens were grieving as well. As if the earth's loss was so profound that the stars dimmed their light out of respect for our sadness.
They were out again last night. I guess by then you'd arrived. And that they could no longer contain their joy at your presence. I remember how that felt...

Travel well, my brave and beautiful friend. We miss you.


  1. i bought flowers bunched beautifully from aspen nicci many years ago - for best friends who deserved a special treat - doubleparked - rushed in - inspired - nicci - any flowers - you knew how to gift fragrant dreams into ordinary lives - sam - daughter of auction-aunt - thank you for sharing the sad farewell to nicci - so openly - i appreciate it so.
    to nicci!

  2. Dankie Sam - ek het vanoggend 'n vreeslike behoefte gehad om met iemand te praat wat Nicci geken het. A

  3. A wonderful tribute to a beautiful and very strong Soul, Sam.

    I did not know Nicci personally, only through the FB Fanmily of Soli's, but she was a very brave woman in her fight against leukemia, and well-loved within our circle!

    Nicci, you are at peace now and out of pain... may your Spirit soar high in the sky... you will be missed by all whose lives you touched!

    Namaste Brave Woman!
    From a Survivor.

    "I honor the place in you where the entire universe resides. I honor the place in you of light, love, truth, peace and wisdom. I honor the place in you where, when you are in that place, and I am in that place, there is only one of us." ~Mahatma Gandhi~

  4. "Your joy is your sorrow unmasked" - Kahlil Gibran

  5. Thanks for the memories. Will definitely be wearing my brightest dress on Wednesday... Magdel

  6. Yes, Magdel, I'm been desperately look at my boring cupboard, thinking what on earth to wear tomorrow. "It must be bright," I keep telling myself, "as Nic always brightend our day."
    It's like the wind it knocked out of my sails, now she's gone. I stand on the cold station platform in the mornings, confused and disorientated... I use to pray for Nicci and now I'm lost at how to fill that big empty space of time and in my heart.
    And I can clearly see you, Sam, planning the wake with Nicci. She always had a plan. Always knew what to do, from an important business decition to a bunch of flowers, arranging a room, where to buy special ingredients...
    And yet, she never asked for much for herself. Her request this last week was but for some energy, so that she could spend some time with her children & see the Namakwaland flowers

  7. A really beautiful tribute and a celebration of a life well lived.

  8. Thank you all for sharing your Nicci memories. Cyberspace is strangely comforting right now... I miss her so much that I keep on checking in on her Facebook page. Or I google her name, wanting to read about her. And I reread her sms messages. She will continue to be an inspiration to so many of us. We have to turn our faces towards the sun....

  9. It's amazing that we can influence one another in such profound ways. Reading these beautiful tributes to Nicci, makes me appreciate my friends and family so much more...don't put off until tomorrow what you should do today. Love with all your heart...Good-bye Nicci.

  10. I know exactly what you mean Sam. I used to be quite scathing about the public displays on offer on FB but now I think it is just perfect in a situation like this! It is so comforting to see how many lives are touched and so appropriate to grief publicly for this dazzling girl. She would have loved it! Have now gone from feeling very bitter & twisted to calming down and thinking of her happy and at peace and sipping pink champagne somewhere... Magdel

  11. Sam, you had the perfect words yesterday at the wake. Thanks for sharing them.