In Memory of Beloved Nicky Leigh - Eulogy Read at her Memorial on 6th June, 2017.

On 26th May, one of my most beloved friends, Nicky Leigh, decided to end her battle with depression. I've been asked to post a copy of the tribute I read out at her memorial, as well as to post the contents of the obituary I wrote for her, which was published in The Witness on Friday 9 June 2017.

The Tribute consisted mainly of the words of my daughter, Caitlin Harrison. She received art lessons from Nicky from the age of ten. 
6 June 2017.
Nicky Leigh’s Eulogy.

I’ve been very selfish these past ten days. My heart has been very tender about the loss of our beloved Nicky. I’ve felt so deeply sad at the loss of my vibrant, generous-hearted, big-loving and deeply-creative friend. It seemed unfathomable that my lovely friend was no longer on this planet. The first time I met Nicky was when I interviewed her during her Animals in Captivity exhibition at the Tatham Art Gallery. We sized each other up cautiously, each wondering if the other was one of those hard-bitten, point-scoring “artistes” who are constantly playing games of one-upmanship. After a few tentative questions and answers, we soon realised that we operate in exactly the same way. We recognised each other as creative artists who lead from the heart.  And that was that. Nicky became one of my most cherished friends, a friend of my heart. That is why I have been selfish these past days. I have been sorry for myself. But our dearest Nicky is where she wanted to be and we must be happy for her. I just could not find words to express how deeply her loss has affected me, so I asked my dearest daughter, Caitlin, who had art lessons with Nicky from the age of ten years old, to write her thoughts. Caity bonded deeply with Nicky, just as Nicky bonded deeply with her. Caitlin wrote these thoughts yesterday, and I think she captures the essence of the Nicky she knew, Nicky when her heart and mind and soul were on fire with her art:

“Nicky was my first introduction to a world of the hyper real, of wonderful absurdity and extremes in vivid colour in which I would find myself very familiar. All my memories with her feel a part of the same detached and intertwining daydream where the air around us was thick and warm. A tangible and overwhelming sense of belonging flooded these moments and it seemed light would meet any and all of the cold places inside of ourselves. I was welcomed by her to realms of sheer warmth and saturated beauty. The world felt different and her life was more than vivid in these moments. In her home too all life around her felt as if it had purpose, and she welcomed us and me with the kindest and most open heart. She was good and honest and truly kind. Nicky is magical in as true a sense as can be possible. She made me feel as though I meant something, and all feasible emotions around her seemed to be mirrored in every possible thing. A sky would open up and hail stones shatter around us on a day that felt too heavy for too many hours, and there would be countless moments where her entire existence would be backlit by the sun. I still feel her and have felt her in every moment like that since. Where the world has felt too real, or too wonderful, or seems as though it could devour you whole and you are left there frantic and overwhelmed. But somehow something clouds over you, and, suspended in that moment, you are now safe and enveloped by something. I feel greater meaning in things because of you. Life has permanently been made more meaningful having known you and having been welcomed so incredibly and amazingly into your world. I now miss that world more than I can say for you not being in it. I will always have so much love in my heart for you. I believed there would be more time to tell you how much you have meant, but without that I know you have felt true love and glorious light in moments that seemed all too uncanny and overwhelmingly beautiful. They too were real and true. I hope you are surrounded by those moments now. Where the air is thick and tangible and full of promise. And you are forever warm and safe and bathed in light.”

I know that Nicky is, just as Caitlin says, forever warm and safe and bathed in light; and I know that I must not be sad for our loss of our beloved friend. She is where she wanted to be, with her adored Jesus in a new heaven and a new earth. You gave us so much warmth and light, dearest Nicky. We will love you forever.


Popular posts from this blog

Obituary for Nicky Leigh. Published in The Witness, 9 June, 2017.

Shed delight.