Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year, new year...

Nicole Cummings England, September 24th, 1973---December 24, 2010


Yesterday was Nicole's viewing, and what a hard day that was.  We started off with all of the kids crammed into the car (like the good old days!), and we set off to New York.  We had to make a "pit stop" in Manhattan to drop off some of my work for an upcoming show, and we did not anticipate that we would be sitting for *two hours* in the helix by the Lincoln Tunnel.  So, imagine a carload of teenagers whining about their asses being sore, having to use the bathroom, and being hungry, and being bored.  I was ready to RUN through the tunnel on foot by the time we actually got near to it!

The City was still poorly cleared and cleaned after the blizzard, so it made for monstrous traffic and parking became like the legendary unicorn...we did manage to find some illegal parking, and Mark stayed with the car as I used the young muscles to carry my work to the gallery.  After a much needed bathroom and food break, including a dirtywater dog for Mark for his post as parking spot "watchman,"  we started out on our journey again over the Brooklyn Bridge.  With traffic moving steadily at a crawl all the way through to Staten Island, we arrived nearly seven hours after we started our trip, and we were frazzled and just grateful to be out of the car by that point. 

We stopped to gather with the family before the second viewing of the day, and enjoy some light dinner together.  Her parents were holding up as best as can be expected when enduring a tragedy of this magnitude.  Her mother is an elegant, and beautiful woman, and Nicole and she were so similar, it is amazing to behold.

We arrived at the funeral parlor, and Mark went out to find some parking, as the number of mourners and friends, even at this final viewing, was overwhelming to the point of having to open up the adjoining rooms to accommodate everyone.  Luckily, Nicole's was the only wake for that time in that funeral home, so that all of her well-wishers packed every last seat, spot and crevice of the place.  There had to be at least a hundred people at this particular viewing, and several hundred during the course of the day.

The flowers were so amazing, literally a hundred different beautiful arrangements, some monstrous in size, down to a few, small delicate orchids with a dainty vase and beautiful sentiment, and they filled every last spot along all of the walls, fanning out from her coffin.  The scent of the flowers was overwhelming at first, and made me cringe...that sickening smell of sweetness, in association with funerals, always repulsed me until I can get over my aversion and adjust to it.

Nicole lay in a beautiful, pink lined coffin that was pearlescent gray, with rosebud handles, looking like Sleeping Beauty.  She was so beautiful still, even in death, with long blonde hair spread out, and a look of deep peace and serenity on her lovely porcelain skin, a hint of shimmering pink on her lips.  My emotion overwhelmed me at the sight of her, a mixture of disbelief, pain and sadness...how this can't possibly be true, it can't possibly be the end...and it's not.  The look of glowing acceptance on her cool cheek bolstered my knowledge of her residence in Heaven...she was with God, and she was released from this mortal world.  No more pain, no more suffering, and she will always be young, always be sweet and beautiful...

My sister had pinned a delicate, pink antique crystal brooch to Nicole's pretty white sweater, and the beauty of it made me smile.  Nicole was always such a stylish woman, she would be pleased.  I touched her smooth, relaxed hand as it clutched her crystal rosary, and whispered my final good-bye to her...

I hugged my brother and the boys.  They were holding up, and were grateful for the large outpouring of love and support.  My brother seemed dazed by the whole event, but put his best face forward, and greeted everyone with dignity and gratitude.

Today was her burial, early this morning, but we were unable to make it back.  Her parents understood, hugged us "goodbye," hoping that will keep in touch even though Nicole is gone now.  I promised her Mom that we would, and she looked deep into my eyes, with her beautiful blue eyes filled with tears, and for that moment I looked into her soul, and felt the depth of her pain, and all I could do is hug her and weep...

And so, we said good-bye to our beloved Sister. 

It's New Year's Eve, and I am very subdued, and yet, hopeful for the happiness that 2011 will bring.  Life is a mixed bag, and for the huge, sad events that happen to us, there are many, many good ones too.  We shoulder on, we remember our dear ones who left us, and we go forward and build happy bridges to the new people that enter our lives...our sister Nicole left us this year, but my sister Dale gave birth to a new baby girl, named Nicole, for our dearly departed, and we now get the privilege of moving through the new circle of life, and the pleasure of watching these new people grow into our lives...in the end, life is Good, life is a Gift, life is a Blessing.

And, with that thought, I look forward to 2011.

God bless you all, and have a wonderful, happy, healthy, prosperous 2011.

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