The expression, cut off at the knees, fell to my knees, on my knees, I had heard these words before but had never really thought about what they meant, but now I felt it: this weakness in my chest and solar plexus, this inability to stand because my thighs and knees were jello; I wanted to sink to the floor and stay there. i felt hopeless and afraid; there couldn’t be any worse news than what was going around on Saturday morning. I can’t believe it and I won’t believe it and I have to remain down here on my knees because I can’t stand up to face that which might be the truth....so the expression cut off at the knees I suddenly understood.
Nick Gomez-Hall, a beautiful vibrant love of a young man, 25, a fierce independent soul, a lover of this planet and his family, a devoted friend, in fact, the “glue” that held those friends together. They lived together in a big clapboard house on Wickenden Street in Providence near the coffee shop and across from the ice cream store and they played music, Nick on guitar, and when they weren't in classes they sat around laughing and talking and eating, playing with the little dwarf rats that Maya kept, each roommate in his/her own pursuits but helping the other. Kindness and laughter you found here. Sure there were bad moods and disagreements and closed doors but mainly there was light inside.
This guy this cool dude Nick was for a time tangentially in my life through my daughter’s college years. They loved, they struggled they eventually broke up but they remained friends. He stayed in Providence, a little too long, a little too stuck, and then moved out to San Fran, where he would start anew. He had friends there, he had a life, he bowled every Tuesday with Katie; he was starting again and enjoying his life. And then Saturday morning the news: Nick had gone to a concert at the Ghost Ship in Oakland where there had been a devastating fire, and was one of the missing. On Sunday, after an agonizing wait, his death was confirmed.
This loss of Nick, this tragedy, has affected his friends in ways unaccounted for, in words that can’t be articulated or even imagined, they too are on their knees, with disbelief, denial, anger, numbness, love for him like they’ve never felt before, denial again that this can’t be true. He was the one who kept them together, he was the one that could make friends with anyone, who knew more about music than anyone, who could do anything, a brilliant writer, poet composer musician friend. The disbelief is beyond words for these friends.
The only imaginable explanation for why Nick didn’t make it out, his closest friends believe, was that he stopped to help a friend or a stranger. That would be Nick, that would be why he didn’t follow down the steps when others did.
There were so many dreams his friends had for him he can't be gone. Who will fulfill those dreams? It feels as though he’s still around, with that smiling grin and that kindness in his eyes... there were so many things he was capable of doing and now denied at 25. There isn’t anything more cruel, this death to someone young. There’s only pain, only sadness and sobs as this sinks in, it still can’t be, but his name is there, black and white in the papers.
I can still see the bunch of them walking to their graduation, it was a warm day to start out (but got cold), they walked so breezily the bunch of them mingling together in pairs separately all together. The girls in dresses, the guys in suits and ties. Flowers along the way and in some of the girls arms. They had big smiles on their faces, their beautiful young faces and Nick in the center.
That day went by in a whirl (although the ceremony went on forever). There was a party afterwards as I remember it, but when i see the order of photos, it was the day before, and there he was, Nick in the middle of everyone, Nick beloved by all.
Please pray for his family and for his friends, for Nick, keep them in your hearts today tomorrow, help them get through this painful challenging cruel time that they are in together.
rest in peace
rest in peace