I’m in a bit of shock today. I just found out a local potter Aden and I took ceramics lessons from last summer, died a few weeks ago. I called today to follow up with him on future lessons and got a message saying that Dark Star Galleria was closed due to the artist’s untimely death. Nick was younger than I am, and a talented potter. We discovered him one day when we had free time before a tooth cleaning appointment, and Aden and I wandered around his gallery above our dentist’s office.
When Ian returned from his last deployment, we opened our own
business, and as a result I spent more time than usual away from the
children. I decided that to help make up for it I would do something
one evening a week with each child alone. Mona and I mostly ran errands
together but she loved having me to herself, so it was nice. But Aden
and I signed up for pottery. When we’d talked to Nick that one
afternoon before our dentist appointment, we asked if he had classes for
kids. He said no, but for Aden he’d make an exception. She was so
sweet and composed for only six, and just by her enthusiasm and
intelligent observations about his work he could tell she was an artist.
We signed up for Wednesday evenings and our neighbor, Julie, joined
us too. We really looked forward to Wednesday nights. Watching Nick on
the wheel was like seeing someone do a magic trick. He effortlessly
made the clay do whatever he wanted and it was amazing. Aden did her
best but had trouble controlling clay on the wheel, so after a few
classes, Nick just put a board across her wheel and showed her how to
make fish out of the clay instead, and coil pots. He taught her about
making sure there were no bubbles in the clay, and not making things too
thick. I made a ton of tiny pots and our neighbor made a nice bowl for
her dog. More often than not we stopped at a restaurant called LuLu’s
afterward and grabbed some pie.
Nick liked to tease Aden, and in a lot of ways she was the more
mature of the two. She loved being in a grown up environment, and Nick
liked to play. They met somewhere in the middle. I remember being
irritated with Aden one evening when we were running late and she was
busy gathering up bandaids to take to pottery class. She’d needed one
for a tiny cut the week before and we discovered Nick didn’t have any
first aid supplies, so she was going to be prepared. We arrived at
class to discover Nick had cut himself badly on a large bowl that had a
sharp piece attached underneath. Aden went about patching him up with
great seriousness. Nick looked down at his bandaid covered hand with
wonder and amusement. Aden beamed. I ended up buying the bowl (after
Nick ground down the sharp bit). It broke recently and I glued it back
together. I almost didn’t because it looks goofy and I figured I should
just go back to the gallery and buy a new one. But now I know there
won’t be any new ones. Not that the one of a kind bowl could really be
replaced. Neither can Nick.
I haven’t decided how to break it to Aden. She’s been bugging me to
call Nick a lot lately. She misses him and the grown up pottery class.
I made him some tools that he was going to trade for more pottery
lessons, and so every week Aden asks me if I’ve called Nick yet to set
up a day and time. We used to stop by his gallery on the way home from
choir to chat and then pick up a couple of spring rolls from the Chinese
restaurant in the same building. Nick was looking forward to having
Aden in a class again, and he said he’d even make room for Mona, too,
since she’s older now.
Aden’s never lost anything bigger than a pet bunny, and that was half
her little life ago. I’m worried that having to contemplate death this
directly will make her dad’s situation more frightening for her. She
knows that war is about fighting and that sometimes people die, but to
know someone you liked could be gone so suddenly is even hard for me to
accept. Aden’s only seven. I don’t want to tell her but I have to. I
think I’ll wait until we have some time alone tonight, after violin
lessons and homework.
I will have to tell her, and she’ll cry, and I’ll cry. And then I will
do my best to convince her the thing to focus on is how lucky we were to
have known him at all. That he created beautiful things that will help
us remember him. That life is about appreciating what we have and not
choosing to drown in sorrow over the things that are lost to us. If I
give the speech well enough maybe I’ll believe it too.