What I learnt from my late friend Nicky
I’d like to share a bit of my personal life with you guys, and tell you about what one incredibly influential friend of mine has done to changed my life, and made me who I am today. I hope that for anyone who reads this can gain something positive from what they can (possibly) learn from reading this.
I am talking about, what I consider to be the best friend I’ve ever had in my life. His name was Nicky, and an amazing boy who lived somewhere in Little Rock, America. He was about 1 year old younger than me, but 50 years wiser. This boy was bisexual, home-schooled and a Christian and I have great respect towards him for the kind of person he is, despite being so incredibly different to me. For me, being able to be his friend was by far one of the best things that has ever happened in my life, and his death, one of the most tragic experiences I’ve ever encountered.
We knew each other through the internet (and yes, crazy, my best friend is one through the internet, I know…). We weren’t exactly ‘pen-pals’ so to speak, but more like ‘e-pals’, as we talked to each other through the internet, and typically converted to emailing as it was more convenient.
We knew each other when I was 13, and he was about 12 respectively. He hit up a conversation with me after finding my profile on a website I used at the time. At the time, we would send each other massively long emails simply based off friendly conversation. We talked about what school was like, giggling at the difference in government schooling life and home school because we found the differences to be incredibly strange. We talked about music, we talked about our parents being annoying, we talked about the times we broke some rules and trusted each other with such little secrets. Our friendship was based off something that was based off pure friendship.
Everything was fine, until he went to hospital.
You see, this was something that was very strange. And it’s even harder for me to understand exactly what was going on, because I on the other side of the world to him, the only source of information I gained was through his emails. We originally sent each other emails every week or fortnight, but after arriving at hospital, it changed to about one every few months. Things changed drastically for me. Our 2000 worded emails changed to about 200 worded emails. It was very strange for me.
He told me of the symptoms he was experiencing with his body. It was hard to comprehend. He told me of how he found it was difficult for his body to move, how it took him so much effort to move his body around. The doctors didn’t tell him what his condition was, and promised him that he would improve.
This was a distractor to me from the brutal reality of his future.
At that time, I was complaining about my difficult school life, about being given so much homework, strict teachers and he consoled me.
But the reality was he was suffering from a terminal illness. It was a form of progressive Muscular Dystrophy, which is a massively cruel disease which prevents the muscles from working in the body, slowly rendering them completely useless. Victims to this disease will often require machines to assist them with breathing and beating their heart as the muscles start to weaken.
I’m not entirely sure if he was telling me the truth about the doctors not telling him about the condition initially, but Nicky… he was strong, even in the face of nearing death.
He told me in an email, a few months after he initially went to hospital that his condition was a form of Muscular Dystrophy and that his condition would improve (according to the doctors). Of course, I researched on the internet about what muscular dystrophy was, and immediately realised the lie from the doctors. Nicky was smart, and now years after his death, I think he too knew that his “recoverable” state was a lie used to console him, or quite possibly a lie from him to console me.
In the face of death, I was the one being comforted, consoled on trivial matters. It was a massive signal of the strength that he had to do something like this. I told him about how “things could be worse” and other garbage to try and cheer him up, and he responded to my messages by simply agreeing with me, by telling me what I wanted to hear at that time.
I hated myself for my selfish, arrogant, self-centred attitude after truly realising the reality that was set before me when it was too late. Even now, I still regret the stupid emails that I sent to him.
It was about a year and a half later that I finally found out about his death. Nicky talked to a friend of his that he could trust, and talked to him about me. This friend, somehow (I have no idea how he managed to do this…) managed to find me online after searching for a year. This also goes to show the strength of our friendship, despite only knowing each other via the net. He sent me an email, detailing the funeral set for Nicky, the date of his death, and the last words from Nicky about his impression of me (not going to quote that here). Through the stupid emails I sent to him before his death, he left a positive comment about me and the short-lived friendship we had for about 3-4 years.
This made me bawl my eyes out in tears. It’s obvious in the depth of the email, that the death was no joking matter, and was in fact real. I felt guilt, pain and confusion swallow me from the inside. A year and a half later from his last email, instead of hearing from Nicky, I read an email telling me of his death. I waited all that time, to come to an “official” announcement of his death. This death was horrendous for me, and left me dep(d for months on end. I wanted to forget all my memories about him, to remove him from my life mentally. I wished I never responded to his first message after he found my profile on the net.
Even now, I wonder whether or not I truly want to remember our times together.
But his death taught me the most valuable lesson in my life. Compassion. This is one of the legacies of his death that I carry with me every day. To love one another without fail, judgement or discrimination. Even in the face of pain, to try and help other people if you are able to.
Because in helping other people feel better, you can heal yourself to some degree. Swallowing the bitterness in life alone is difficult, undoubtedly, but helping other people who are greatful for your existence is a worthwhile blessing.
To this day, whenever I see a friend of mine being bullied, I would willingly step in to take the pain away from them, even if it backfires to me. As a sensitive person by nature, I will voluntarily be hurt to protect other people who are important to me from suffering. I have been scarred with experiences so horrific and traumatising for my age which I hope other people will never have to experience, especially when they are young and vulnerable.
Nicky’s legacy lives with me every living day of my life. In his death, he remained strong, so that I would not be hurt knowing the truth of his incoming death. Whilst his suffering was far more extensive than my trivial school complaints, his ability to handle them were far greater than me.
With all due respect, for being such an amazing person, and living a short 15 years on this world, I wish your family a blissful future, to be able to overcome the pains of losing a son, a brother, a niece, a cousin. I would like to publicly recognise you for the amazing impact you have made in my life. May you Rest In Peace and find eternal happiness in the afterlife for whatever it has to offer. I am forever thankful for you being a part of my life.
RIP Nicky. You will forever be remembered in my heart, for the amazing impact you had on my life.
No amount of suffering should ever go unnoticed. Some people are able to handle more than others, and we should all do our part to help one another.