Nick loved reading. Plain and simple. He enjoyed fantasy, graphic novels, superheroes, stories about dogs, and Warriors Within, my first and only book he would ever read. When we first thought of providing a reading space in Gowana Middle School, it was about remembering Nick and providing a place where his friends and others students could sit, read, and look at his photos and drawings.
When his brother, Stephen, friends, and family were invited to paint and prepare the space, it became a place of healing and hope. Losing a child is devastating, life-changing, an irrevocable rip that never heals. As adults we may not have the experience to navigate the way through this, but we can hope that we will muster through. Children who have lost a sibling, relative, or friend who is a peer aren’t ready to face such a loss. They shouldn’t have to, but everyone knows that it happens all the time.
Nick’s Nook became part of the healing process. When you give a kid a brush and tell them to go at it, it can only bring a smile to their face. They have something to do instead of focusing on the pain.
Knowing the pain that Stephen has dealt with, I would do most anything to get a smile out of him. This picture was taken 10 years ago when losing Nick was raw and unbelievable. His friends, teachers, administration, and community stepped in to lift him up and give us strength when we didn’t have any.
When Nick’s Nook opened up to the middle school students, a reception was held. Nick’s friend read poems, essays, and shared memories. Telling stories heals and reminds us that our stories are important to tell. They are important to read. Every year I venture in, donate more books that Nick would have loved to read, and listen to the librarian as she tells me how popular this section is. It’s soothing and I’m grateful for this space.
On the same day, I pulled out the photos from 10 years ago, my friend sent me a current photo of Nick’s Nook. My son knows how to send me signs. She let me know how popular it is. This is a place to relax and reduce stress while enjoying a good book. It’s exactly where Nick would have been every chance he could. Seeing this photo brought me so much joy. Not only because the students enjoy it, but because our community continues to remember my beautiful son and how he changed our world.