Sprinkles forecast a rainstorm as my guests, Carmen, and John Hartono arrived carrying furled umbrellas and a red rose, a flower of uncommon significance since the death of their son, Nicky.
We hugged and then with feelings of disquiet, I placed the rose in a crystal vase and centered it on my dining table. The splash of color against the white damask cloth reminded me of their son Nicholas, and the symbolism of the song The Rose, represents to this family.
An ironstone tureen of steaming vichyssoise with a chiffonade of fresh herbs, French bread and butter were the only foods served. Even dessert was dispensable, although a choice of liqueurs was on the sideboard. On this night our focus would be on the large television screen in a nearby antique Chinese cabinet. Carmen and John would be viewing, for the first time, the video clips of their son when he accompanied me on a Peace trip to the far East. He was eleven at the time, a beautiful boy with dark eyes and hair, and an uncanny way of putting issues in prospective. His heart, now beating in the body of another, was compassionate, caring, concerned about those less fortunate than he was. His distress was grounded in the knowledge of human rights violations. Nicky intended to correct such wrongs when he grew up.
“Are you sure you’re up to this?” I asked my friends fearful that the pain of seeing film of their son who was killed when hit by a car while riding his bicycle, more than they could endure. We had talked about this viewing for years, put it off several times, but now here we were.
“When I read about Danielle Steel’s Nicky and his sad death, I cried.” Carmen said. “Like our Nicky, Danielle’s son was also a musician.” I
I too sobbed when I learned of Danielle’s loss, I told my guests. I remembered Nicky as a tow headed, giggling child full of mischief and beauty, keeping his mother busy corralling him.
We spoke of Nicholas Green, murdered while on a vacation in Italy with his parents. Their decision to donate his organs startled and touched the people of Italy, awakening them to the need for such an unselfish act.
Needing time to reminisce before looking at the films, we sat down for supper. As we ate, my friends talked about their son. “I want to tell you about a new friend, and what I call another Nicky miracle.” Carmen said. She told me about a woman in her grief-counseling group, who was also sorrowing over the loss of a child. We became friends. One day, after putting dates together, the woman, who had received a liver transplant, realized that their Nicky had been the donor. “It took a lot of courage for her to finally tell us. It was at a concert, and after she told us the band began playing ‘The Rose.’” John smiled, “Just like in the movies.”
The shock of hearing that their new friend was the beneficiary of their charitable act, caused them to pulled away from her, but eventually they were able to draw close again. In doing so they learned the recipient heard Rock music for months after the surgery, Nicky’s music. One day she called Carmen to inquire if Nicky had a favorite food, she didn’t tell Carmen that she had developed a craving for chocolate, a sweet she never before liked. Carmen’s unequivocal answer was “Chocolate.”
“There have been so many miracles attached to Nick’s life after death, I’m writing a book about them.” Carmen said. She told me about her brother being handed a pink azalea plant as he entered church for the funeral service. To their astonishment as the first notes of the Ava Marie were sung, the tightly closed buds of the plant opened to full flower.
At Nicky’s funeral I conducted the eulogy, one of the most difficult tasks I’ve ever faced. The simple redwood coffin, draped with the blue and white Children As The Peacemakers flag, was also covered with red roses, placed there one by one, by the thousands attending Nicky’s service.
When, at last, my guests said they were ready to view the films, I turned on the recorder, handed the tapes to John, and quietly left the room. Some things are too fragile to be shared.
Causes Pat Montandon Supports
PETA, Women for Women, Amnesty International, Children as the Peacemakers, Peace to The Planet