“I love you all”

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To the Editor:

My heart hurts. I wake up and think it may not hurt today, but again it hurts. In my short 51 years I have lost my father when I was 30, my sister just a few years ago, and my nephew at the tender age of 24. The death of my friend Nick Thayer is a great loss. My heart hurts. Perhaps the sudden aspect of his death with no time to prepare is part of my ache. Yet the way Nick chose to live his life makes me take a breath, become more inspired and encouraged not to waste a single moment.

As an artisan at the Grange Hall, working “next door” to Nick for years and years, the first thing I saw in the morning was Nick’s infectious smile … a true grin from ear to ear. No matter the weather, no matter the issues on his mind, Nick was smiling.

He had his coffee in one of his wonderful lemon mugs, and his glasses were dangling either at the end of his nose or off the string. As a potter, Nick’s work is legendary. He made majolica-inspired dishes, bowls, mugs, berry bowls; you name it, Nick made it. His custom pottery for new babies, weddings, and all-around happy occasions are now heirlooms around the world.

One of Nick’s many blessings is his tight-knit family; when the show was closing and the clock struck two, they all would swoop in, pack him up in 10 minutes, and whisk him away; and with pottery that is no small feat. For Nick, his family was everything.

And now, my heart hurts again. For the past five years Nick was a member of the Night Heron Gallery. We are an artist cooperative — another family. This thoughtfully chosen group of 10 were just coming into the season, and having found a strong stride, we were looking forward to being “in it” together for season No. 5. We all have our part that we play in the gallery, not only the different art we create, but also our specific chores. It works. At the gallery, Nick was able to explore his creative printmaking side — he dove in, and it worked too — things were working. Nick was all in.

Over this past week as a gallery, we learned of Nick’s stroke, then we heard he was coming home. Hospice would be there. All along we were trying to process and catch up at the same time. Then we heard the worst news ever: Nick had died. By pure grace, our group was all together when we heard the news. In that moment, Nick’s artwork was no longer a commodity; it became his legacy.

While it was normal to want one more of his creations, it became oh so clear the work belongs to his family now. What also came to light was that Nick not only shared his powerful art with us, but he also shared his sweet spirit, deep integrity, and his love of life. He always had a bounce in his step, his entrance and exits were above the ground and yet still grounded. When he left our last opening, in early April, on his way out he turned to the group, with his enormous smile, a huge wave and said, “I love you all!” and bounced off.

With others, in the embraces of sadness this week, I came to find out that Nick may have loved us all, but he was truly loved by all.

L.A. Brown

Oak Bluffs