RIP Jess Nicholson

Life sometimes just doesn’t make sense. But I do know this much, In order to truly understand love and joy, one also has to understand pain and heart ache.

I went to Jess Nicholson’s memorial yesterday and it was a heart-wrenching affair but it was also bitter sweet. I feel a colossal sadness and yet I also feel lightness in the positive and inspirational legacy that Jess has left.

I have known the Nicholson family since we were just kids. My brother Shane and her husband Simon have been good friends since they were tiny little surfer groms with mops of blonde hair and squeaky voices. Our parents became good friends as parents do when kids have similar interests, but the truth is our Dad’s were just as surf stoked as the groms! Every year what seemed like half of Durban’s surfing families made their annual pilgrimage to Cape St Francis for the annual 3 week summer holiday. The Bruniquel/Smiths and the Nicholson’s were part of this crew. I was older than most of the kids and on many an occasion I landed up babysitting a brood while all the ballies braaied and drank Old Brown Sherry! We formed some of the best memories of my life during those long ago summers.

The Nicholson’s landed up moving from Durban to Cape St Francis and I moved overseas. Years later Simon’s Dad, Paul married my ex husband and I on a perfect day on that beautiful beach. When my marriage went belly up and I came home to South Africa a shattered mess of pain and heartache, they took me into their Seal Point home and gave me space and support to find my peace. I will never ever forget their kindness and they have been such a big part of my inner journey.

The Nicholson’s are good people with enormous hearts. It was therefore devastating to hear that Simon’s wife Jess had been diagnosed with a brain tumor.

I called Jess on one particular day to find out how she was doing, and what she said to me has sat with me ever since. She said “Jax don’t feel sorry for me, the only certain thing in life is death, and this is in a very strange way a blessing as I get to feel what it is like to truly live each day as if it were my last. We never know when we will die, but I know that I will die sooner than some and so I get to feel like what it is like to let go of all the stupid things that usually worry us humans and that is somehow liberating. Live your life Jax, as life is a blessing!”

Jess’s strength has been heroic and the same could be said for her husband!

For a year they fought this awful disease but it was not meant to be, and sadly she passed away last weekend. The love that these two have for each other and their two children is just inspirational. It never makes sense when young people die but the thing that has shone light onto this situation has been Jess and Simon’s attitude to the demon they faced and the enormous support they received from so many people.

RIP Jess Nicholson …. You have taught us all something beautiful and you will never be forgotten.