As we continue to grieve the passing of our beloved son Nicholas, we have also been reflecting on the great memories built together and the powerful life lessons he taught us. Those lessons are real treasures that I want to share with you today, but first allow me to share a little bit about this amazing soul. Nick was only two years old when we found out that he had a very rare condition, Primordial Dwarfism Type II, which is so rare that there are currently less than 100 people in the world that suffer from it.
The doctors predicted that our beautiful little boy, as most kids with this condition, would not live past 13 years of age. How both my ex-husband and I reacted to that news and what each of us decided to do moving forward was very beneficial for Nick. While his father focused on researching Nick’s condition and taking him to see any and every doctor he thought could help change those odds, I focused on filling Nick with love and making his life as happy as possible for as long as God would allow us to have him. That turned out to be the best combination, as it helped us keep Nick with us longer (he passed away just a few days shy of his 25th birthday) and helped him have a life truly worth living.
We were thrilled when Nick passed the age of 13, healthy and happy. We hoped that perhaps those doctors had been mistaken, but in the years that followed, he experienced more life-threatening issues like ruptured aneurysms, heart attacks, and open heart surgery. In total, he went through 14 major surgeries in his life and had multiple medical procedures that kept reminding us how fragile his body was and how quickly we could lose him. However, every time we thought the end was near, he would miraculously push forward to get well again.
Nick went up into spirit almost a month ago, during the happiest time of his life. He was healthy, had managed (against my wishes) to move out of the house last year to live in a place for young people with special needs where he had friends and plenty of activities, and he was also enjoying his part-time job at a manufacturing company. He was also in love with Amanda, his girlfriend of almost two years, and was happy to have traveled through Europe again last summer, also spending a week visiting his best friend Brad in Illinois, and another week with his cousins in Oklahoma. He was always so happy to come home to spend time with us, but especially with those he referred to as “the two people he loved the most in the world,” his siblings Catalina and Santiago.
The way Nick chose to live his life and confront both his physical limitations and medical complexities made him an amazing teacher. This little Zen master left us many lessons, of which I would like to share the three I consider most important with all of you, with the hope that they may serve you as a source of inspiration.
Nick taught us that one must fully embrace whatever situation the Universe sends their way with complete humility and acceptance. For Nick, everything was perfect. He never complained to God, his parents, or anyone about his size, condition, limitations, or for having so many health issues. He had all the reasons to complain, but we never heard a, “why is this happening to me” or “why do I have to be in the hospital again”. No matter what curveball was thrown his way, he accepted all he had to endure with remarkable peace, serenity and positivity.
The second lesson is that one must give 100% attention to the task at hand, and truly enjoy the present. I don’t know if Nick was like this because he knew his life wasn’t going to be long or because his soul was way more elevated than ours, but he truly knew how to enjoy everything to the fullest. When he spoke with anyone, he wasn’t looking at his cell phone, or thinking about what he needed to do next; he was 100% focused on you. When he spoke on the phone with his girlfriend or with his best friend Brad, with whom he spoke almost every day and sometimes for hours, he was there for as long as the other person wanted to talk. Brad told us that one time when they were talking he became hungry and told Nick he was going to make himself a sandwich. After Brad made and ate it, he came back to the phone and Nick was still there waiting for him because they had not yet said good bye.
The third of Nick’s life lessons is that one must look for and enjoy the simplest things life has to offer. Nick truly enjoyed a sunny day, a sunset, or a beautiful flower. He enjoyed a good song, a good message, a good conversation, or flavorful food like tacos and Colombian arepas. Nick was someone with the financial resources to buy, eat or go wherever he wanted, but instead of material possessions, he enjoyed people, memorable moments, and nature much more. For example, the Monday before his passing he spent the day outside listening to music and his audiobooks. Nick didn’t work that day, so I decided to work from my home office to be near him. I went out to check on him once in a while and on one of those occasions he said, “Mommy, it is such a beautiful day, you should just work outside. I’ve been outside for over six hours and love it; I even ate breakfast outside today.”
So, as a way to honor Nick’s life, I invite you to take those three simple but powerful lessons with you. Accept in your heart all circumstances in your life, so that you can find real happiness. Stay present in your lives, so that nothing and no one passes you by without fully living in those moments. Finally, enjoy the simple things in life. The things that cost you nothing but are worth everything, like the moments lived with your loved ones and those moments you spend in communion with nature. All I have to say is that it was truly a privilege to be his mother.