Thoughts on Losing Nick and Re-Entering the Continuum of Life

Nicholas Scott Eckland

Nicholas Scott Eckland
Nov. 7, 1983 – Jan. 11, 2003

Eleven years ago today, a hole opened up in my soul that I instantly recognized would never close, let alone begin to heal. Waking to a telephone call from the father of our son Nick’s best friend on that cold and foggy January morning, my husband Mike and I soon realized that something hauntingly bleak, disturbing and impossibly confusing was taking shape. In an hour-long flurry of subsequent calls to parents of other friends, the police department, hospitals and then the coroner’s office, we were hit with a realization and shock that sucked the life from our lungs and limbs. Nick had died along with two of his friends in a tragically horrific accident that had occurred in the early morning hours of Saturday, January 11, 2003. In an instant our extended family was swallowed into an oncoming vortex. Hours became days as the tenuous and trying rituals of choosing a coffin, burial clothes, burial plot, songs, obituary content, videos, photos for the service, pallbearers, disturbing interviews with vultures posing as news reporters … on and on and on and on. The raw shock of losing our son, brother, friend, nephew, soon-to-be-uncle, grandson shook our entire family to its deepest core.
In the eleven years since Nick’s death, we’ve all found ways to move on with our lives. The sure thing about life is that it truly is a continuum. It was many months before we heard ourselves laugh – a shock indeed! And in an instant, the guilt of sharing that giggle replaced any lingering hope of enjoying a fleeting moment of happiness. The world moved on and we remained paralyzed for a very, very long time. Yet at some point we realized that our daughter Sheena deserved so much more. She deserved the life she had long been working, studying and preparing for. Our extended family had kids to raise, bills to pay, happiness to search for again. And so, taking baby steps, we also began to re-enter into the constantly moving continuum of life. Those baby steps slowly turned into toddler steps and then short strides. My focus on any task was literally a few seconds in the first months following Nick’s death, but as the time continuum progressed, seconds turned into minutes and minutes turned into hours. Slowly we settled into our “new normal”. Our lives forever changed that cold, dreary January day. Nick no longer came barreling through the door in a direct beeline for the refrigerator to assess its contents. No more heated Sunday afternoon banter as we watched his Oakland Raiders take on my Denver Broncos. No more preparing Nick’s favorite meals then inviting his best friends over for a feast of stuffed shells, Caesar salad and a mountainous supply of garlic bread. I now categorize life’s milestones into two time segments, the determining factor being 1/11/2003. Events either happened before that date or after that date. It’s how I remember and compartmentalize the history of my life. I also realize that Nick certainly would have wanted the family and friends he cherished so dearly to move on and live our lives with outrageous zest and zeal as he did in his short 19 years with us. In dying, he taught me a lesson I ponder and try to live out every day: pack the most of life … meaningful life … into every single day because, quite frankly, tomorrow is no guarantee and growing old is a privilege that is denied to many. That hole in my soul remains, but it seems over time, as if there is a layer of beautiful memories which have surfaced and are now protecting it in a shield-like manner.
So today I toast my cherished Nick and revel in the years of fantastic memories … good, bad, ugly and fantastically fun … that I will carry with me in my heart forever. Here’s to you Nick, and thanks so very much for the beautiful memories! You are missed so deeply by so many people every single day. You will never be forgotten; you will always be cherished.

7 thoughts on “Thoughts on Losing Nick and Re-Entering the Continuum of Life

  1. Nick’s mom, Shauna, is one of my most cherished friends. I have always admired her strength but never as much as watching her hold herself together for her parents, her brother and sister, her other children and all of Nick’s friends. He looks so much like the Hill side of the family, especially he dad, Kyle. The funeral was so moving and every time I hear the song “Friends In Low Places” I think of Nick and Shauna and my heart will always ache for the loss of such a young life. God Bless You All!

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  2. Jan you have an incredible way with words. You put to words so many thoughts and feelings that are difficult to describe. I too, will never forget that foggy, wet, cold night. My mother’s birthday is January 11th and I got the call from Debra while I was having a birthday party for my mom. No one would let me drive in the fog to get to my best friends side. It was a very long night, but I was off first thing in the morning. So every year on that bittersweet day I would celebrate with my mom and then head to Shauna’s to support her. Nick will be remembered and missed as long as we are still here on this earth. He was loved by many, and every time I think of him I smile.

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    • Thank you for sharing that Lori. It’s bittersweet with your mom’s birthday. I get that – 3 years ago my sis-in-law gave birth to preemie twin girls on 1/11. For weeks they fought for every breath an ad were in NICU for 3 months. They just celebrated birthday #3 and are AMAZING! So a day that has been so very dark and depressing became a day of new life. The time continuum… BTW congratulations on your daughter’s wedding and your new son in law!!!

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      • Thank you! It was such a special day! Congrats on your amazing niece’s too. Again (a little) bittersweet though. I lost my mom a year ago November 5th and sister 2 years ago this coming January 26th. We were so close to having a “happy” family gathering with everyone I love there…but I know they were with us. Just wish they were physically there. But what can we do….it is what it is, as they say. Take care Jan!

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  3. Hello Jan
    It has really mad me sad… i can understand the pain when we loose our loved ones… people say they are gone , but they never go , they are always with us .. in our memories , in our thoughts , in our actions , in our discussion….
    they can never be forgotten,….
    and life can never be same again…. even if it goes on… but our feelings towards things certainly change….

    You have really kept me from your first word till last …. you have incredible way of capturing hearts and attention of reader… I am happy to visit your blog…
    I hope you will take a moment to read this
    thank you
    http://publicawaz.blogspot.com/2014/02/witless-rolling-tear-of-little-girl.html

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