9/14/15, Nicky

Hi Everyone,

I hope that all is well with you, and that your fall is rolling out nicely.
This is usually not an easy week for me. We all have our challenges in life, and my greatest one was losing my son Nick eighteen years ago, when he was 19. Those of you who’ve read my book about him, His Bright Light, know that he was bi-polar all his life. I suspected that something was wrong, or very different about him, when he was 18 months old, by the time he was four years old, he was fully and obviously bi-polar, although then people with bi polar disease were never diagnosed until their early 20’s. I spent years telling doctors his symptoms, always to be told that he was just very bright, or too bright, or ‘spoiled’, and not to worry. Today, children are diagnosed with bi polar disease, and treated with medication and therapy at three or four. In Nick’s case, his diagnosis was confirmed at 16, which was considered early then. The psychiatrist who diagnosed him was bi polar himself. And once medicated and treated, he had 3 great, mostly happy and VERY productive years until the end. He was hugely talented in music, as a musician and lead singer of a successful band. And despite his illness, he had a lot of fun, and gave us enormous joy. I always hasten to remind people that many, many, many people with bi-polar disease survive it, live well, manage it successfully, and have full, happy, and productive lives. Living with bi polar is challenging, like a lot of other illnesses, but can be successfully managed. Some are unlucky, like Nick, but many people survive it well.

Nick was talented, funny, brilliant, thoughtful, kind, creative, he had a big talent as a writer and musician. He was a good friend, Nicky.DSa very charming kid, an incredibly sweet person, and a much loved and loving brother and son. His down times proved to be too much for him, so he chose to exit this world, a tough decision for all of us who loved him, but the way he was determined to go. He attempted to commit suicide three times, before he was successful (if you can call it that) on the 4th time. Losing anyone you love is tough, even brutal, and it rocked us all. I think it brought our family closer to each other, to survive it. He left a tremendous void, and a family of aching hearts when he went. You learn hard lessons when you lose someone, which make you better and stronger as a person. And he is remembered in a million ways in our family and by his friends, as the remarkable person he was. In many ways, he never really left us, we talk about him all the time. There are a million funny stories about him and the sweet, funny, and outrageous things he did. He was a gift, and is loved and cherished still.

Losing someone you love, or a child, is a lesson none of us want to learn, and is one of the hardest experiences in life. He has gentled into a tender memory with time, most of the time when I think about him (daily) I smile at something he said or did—-and sometimes I laugh out loud. I believe he is at peace, and always feel him near. The anniversaries are hard as you remember one of the worst days of your life. But to honor those we love, we must go on, reach out to others, and hold tightly to those we hold dear. As hard as it is, his life and even his death have to be a blessing in the end, to us, and those who know us. I share that blessing with you now, he was a lovely boy. And to those who have lost loved ones, my heart goes out to you as well. Let us remember them with joy, with tenderness, with compassion for others, let us honor their lives by the love we share, which is how they live on, through what they accomplished in their time here, and the love they left us as their legacy to share with the world. I will be thinking of Nick this week, the anniversary date is Sunday, and I send you my love, and share with you the gift and blessing that he was. Have a peaceful week.
love, Danielle

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12 Comments so far
  1. Keyla Marques September 14, 2015 11:35 am

    Nick is smilling in heaven and i bet he is grateful for all the love he’s been receiving since his birth and until now.
    He was a star. had his own light and touched (touchs) many people around the world.
    Ive listen to his songs and read to some of his writings. he was remarkable.

    keep strong.
    Love always,

  2. Jane Ruz September 14, 2015 3:08 pm

    Reading this moving homage to your beloved son, has led me to mention to you another much loved person who was the wife of a very good friend of mine. Her name was Margarita del Hoyo whom I understand from my friend Antonio Garcia Escamez was a good friend of yours. Both Antonio and I live in Santa Cruz de Tenerife and only recently he told me of the friendship between you and his late wife. I know he would love to make contact with you again.

    thinking of you at this sad time

  3. Alexandra September 14, 2015 8:14 pm

    I read the book about Nick.I thought how painful must have been for you to lose him. My mom lost my brother when he was 19 years old. That was back in 1995 and I can tell you that no matter how happy she looks like she has never been able to fully recover, she have learned to live with the pain, but she will never be completely happy. As I was reading the book I often wondered how would he be now in 2015, his relationship with his siblings, he as an uncle… That book really allowed me to see Nick as more than DS’s son, it allowed me to see him as a person with many flaws but all were outweighed by his kind and talented soul.

  4. Tina September 15, 2015 2:53 am

    Despsite, that I have had many deaths in my family, then we never have had suicide or murder, but “only” natural (apart from my brother were the docs never could find out why). In my case it never realy have brought the family closer, but more likely teared it apart, but even before all these deaths started, it have been some trouble family times.
    I quite often (maybe becouse I was only 8 when my brother died and he “started” all the deaths and bad stuff) wonder how much different thigs would have been, if he was allowed to be a couple years older then the just 21.

    I hope that ur family stay strong and uinted Danielle.

  5. Shannon September 15, 2015 12:16 pm

    You are so generous to share your tragedy with us, and for doing what you can to make others’s lives and losses more bearable. Your tributes to Nick are beautiful testaments to your love for him. He was a lucky boy to have you as his mother for those 19 short years. God bless you for all that you do for others.

  6. J-C September 17, 2015 8:17 am

    You talk about Nick as if it were still there. A man has trouble understanding. A more or less balanced mix of happiness and partially expressed suffering.
    Why this annual reminder? Why and how humanly can manifest itself fully with so much precision? What is the unspoken?
    Assumptions in response!
    A year without being able to talk freely, it is perhaps too long. I can’t keep all this in silence because his fathers are no longer here to share with me this drama. This relieves me to talk about it, the burden is less, I feel to share the weight with you. The unsaid, well tried to forget to no longer suffer but I failed. Then, I finally gave up and accepted, my motherly love for him is stronger than me.

  7. Lorraine September 19, 2015 6:52 pm

    What a loving mother you were to Nick and still are, to keep his memory so alive and to share with others what he and your family suffered, which I’m sure brings comfort to others. Thank you for all you blogs and for being so down to earth in communicating with your readers.



  8. Tina September 23, 2015 7:22 am

    Hello Ms Steel, I was speaking with my mum tonight who has just moved into a nursing home and is quite low and lonely. She was telling how for a wee while tonight she was lost in a movie from your novel Heart Beat, and how she remembered me telling her how I met your son at a summer camp. I was a 21 yr old counsellor from Australia and he was a young 13 yr old camper. I have such fond memories of him, although our meeting was short, and he has often popped into my mind over the years. I remember him being so lovely, charming and mature beyond his years. Within moments of meeting him he said some rather romantic words to me that completely charmed me and stopped me dead in my tracks, and I was quite besotted by him. I remember thinking he is definitely the son of a famous romance novelist. I think he even gave me a little necklace. He was simply beautiful, so I was very sad to read tonight of his passing. Anyways, I hope you don’t mind me sharing my chance meeting with him that I still remember so fondly.

  9. Rob Scott September 23, 2015 10:25 am


    Thank you for sharing Nick with us. He is well-loved and you are still connected to him through this love.

    I admire that you got back up. I can’t imagine your pain or life hitting any harder than losing a child to suicide.

    My prayers go out to the youth who were unloved by their families and didn’t make it. I tried to make a difference for some of them as a crisis intervention and suicide prevention counselor for gay and lesbian youth.

    Your blog “lovable” moved me.

    My advice as somebody who has also been touched by suicide to others struggling is to never give up. Find Hope and don’t let go.

    Feed the wolf of Hope because Hope is the major weapon against suicide.

    I found the following quote and wanted to share it:

    “In some religious traditions, one who is mourning is considered most holy, is open to that which is beyond this world.”

    Finding Hope in the heart of darkness.

    Truth, Wisdom, Love and Sincerity, to ALL Mankind.

    Rob Scott
    Chicago, IL

  10. Vandamme Norbert October 2, 2015 8:52 am

    I was deeply touched by reading the book . And I love Nick also for what he represented, for who he was . So bright .

    Now I would like to let read the book to my francophone friend . I have sayed so him I would find it and I do’not even know the French Title of this beautifulle book ; a book everyone should reed .

    So if anywone could give me the french Title and maby a bookstore in Europe ( Belgium ) who can fetch me the book I would be thankfulle . I part within two weeks to meet my friend in la Cote d’ Ivoire (Africa )

  11. Marie Ziegler January 4, 2016 7:01 pm

    Dear Danielle,
    I also have a son who is bipolar. Joe’s onset was age 14 but he also had some “quirks” earlier in life. He has also been suicidal and has been hospitalized many times. Joe is a very special person to me as your Nicky was to you. I just finished reading your book. I related to your feelings, the unending phone calls, feelings of dread and uncertainty. It was painful for me to read at times. I cried at the end for both you and I.
    Thank you for sharing his story. Thank you for reaching out to other families who suffer similarly. And thank you for educating others about the plight of the bipolar individuals and their families.

  12. Laura Fanucchi-Banash January 20, 2016 8:44 pm

    Dear Danielle: I feel I can call you Danielle as I contacted you in 2000 (and I am not one to do that) after I had finished reading His Bright Light and here I am again, after rereading His Bright Light! You see, we have things in common. I was born in San Francisco, August 9, a product of the 1960s, a mother, and have a son with bipolar disorder. My daughter chose His Bright Light for me to read back then because your son Nick’s cover photo reminded her of her brother, my son, Ryan, who was diagnosed in 1997 with manic-depression. My heart was in pieces after I read His Bright Light that time. I shared with you how I felt, that if you lost your son, what hope did I have? You wrote I was “lucky to have him” and that they were “special children that needed us more than most”. I am writing you tonight to share that as hard as it was to re-read, after 10 years in my book club, it was my selection for this month. I find after all these years my son has a diminished quality of life because of society’s view of mental illness. Nine of 11 ladies are mothers but and all know I have a son with bipolar disorder but they don’t seem understand what it means. I wanted to share, educate and try to lift the stigma of mental illness towards my son and others with mental illness. I wanted to enlighten them. What others don’t know is how much I suffer inside because of Ryan’s illness. No one knows but you, a mother, how hard it is to see their child struggle with this illness, what it does to them, what the diagnosis does to their self-esteem. One lady told me there is no such thing as depression…another said they knew all about it..others are silent, most try to ignore it. When I first wrote you Ryan was just 24, having been diagnosed at 19. I had no idea then that the first 10 years of his diagnosis would involve monthly hospitalizations under the care of some competent and incompetent doctors. Its been a very rough road since then, as you well know. After years of struggles and determination, this past May, at 38, he finally earned his associates degree. He now attends the university is majoring in Philosophy one class at a time still but little by little, he is getting there. Like Nick, he is an amazing person. He, too, he loves metal music, composes, does metal music reviews, has a music website, isolates, is moody, stubborn, rigid, eats constantly, works out insessently, is a fanatic about organic foods, is funny, handsome, very sensitive, creative and loving. He hopes to find a job, marry and have a family one day. And when the demons come, I pray when I enter his room that he is still alive… I find it so hard to find others that understand what I am going through but I know you do! In closing, please know that I can’t thank you enough for writing His Bright Light and hopefully other readers will realize just how truly precious bipolar people really are. Thank you for allowing me the chance to share my feelings. All the best for your continued success, health and happiness. Laura