On a full moon in the final days of August, Nicolas Jozsef Bergeron, a very dear young friend, completed the journey from physical form to being of light. His passing followed that of his mother Ildiko, a beloved feminine soulmate of mine, by only three years. I was grateful to have the chance to speak at a service in Nic’s honour…
Nic was a beautiful man. Tall, dark and handsome, yes, but above all inwardly beautiful, and throughout his illness his beauty only grew. Nic had his father’s lanky grace and gentle eyes. He also inherited Jacques’ gifts of artistry, diplomacy, and kindness. And in other ways, in the passions of his mind and spirit, Nic was his mother’s son. Like Ildiko, Nic bore a fierce curiosity about matters of the heart and soul, and after embarking upon his journey with leukemia his search for meaning exploded. Like his mother, Nic had always fought a battle with shyness and self-doubt, but he dreamt of travel, and women and love, and above all he longed for a clear direction in life, one that would allow him to step into the largeness that was his true Self.
A student of varied spiritual philosophies, Nic was also drawn to the wisdoms of his mother. Nic and Ildiko shared a commitment to deep honesty, self-responsibility and a hunger to help others. Over the years I have been blessed with the opportunity to spend many hours in discussion with Nic about the things he found the most important in life, so I’d thought I’d like to share some of them with you today, because I think Nic, and the budding teacher and author in him, would really like it. So … a taste of his favourite topics…
“Life is suffering, and that’s okay. It is through crisis and pain that we dare to become who we really are.”
Those of us close to Nic were witness to the most extraordinary blossoming in him throughout the course of his illness, an opening that seemed to reach wider and wider, the more ill he became. The young man who had once been afraid to speak, unveiled a startlingly honest and eventually award-winning blog about his experience with cancer. In his last months, Nic had no patience for falsehoods or denial. He was determined to learn every lesson, open every gift that came as a result of his challenges. And then, he wanted everyone else around him to get it too.
“Don’t be afraid. It’s a waste of precious time.”
Nic spoke to me often of his “old” self, and all the shyness he had worked to overcome. But once Nic awakened to his new Self, there was no turning back. There was so much he wanted to taste. To see Europe, to publish his writings, to find a woman who could match his own intellectual, emotional and spiritual enquiry. And as he grew more and more courageous in the facing of his physical mortality, he could not bear to see others around him doing anything other than leaping into the abyss of life. In the last conversation we had, he spoke of a plan to have a lovely woman friend push him along the boardwalk in his wheel chair. He never undervalued the joys of a game with his brothers, a film with his whole family or just one more trip to Queen for an ice capp. He wanted more moments. And he wanted all of us to see just how perfect are the moments we have.
“Feel, express it, and be set free.”
Nic believed in the power of understanding our emotions, not running from them, and not drowning in them. One day he would speak of how tired he was of grief. Don’t they get it? he’d say. I’m the lucky one, I get to leave and be in bliss and they’re stuck here. And then the next, he would plot to draw someone into his arms for an embrace, sure to open their heart wide and spill the waiting tears. Some days he would question. Some days, he would doubt. Occasionally he feared the hurt his beloved family might experience and he would wonder if there wasn’t some deep truth behind it all that he had somehow missed. But through his relentless self-honesty, his writings, meditations and dreams, he walked through his challenges with such strength in the midst of his own physical weakness that he was able to reach out to others. Nic visited other young cancer patients on his floor when he was in hospital, not just to cheer them up, but to remind them to empower themselves in their own healing. Those of us around him who were in good health weren’t spared either. Nic watched over all of us, and no one was permitted to get away with anything even slightly cowardly or unconscious. He wanted healing for the whole world, not just for himself.
(The photo on the left is of a particularly radiant Nic in the late stages of his illness.)
“Never give up on joy, because Love is all there is.”
It’s impossible to speak about Nic without making reference to his extraordinary family. It would be so easy to see only the unfairness in what these beautiful souls have had to face. And yet Nic believed deeply in Trust, in grieving and then letting go, and in the eternity of Love. This faith was and is lived by each and every one of the Pataky/Bergerons. Their readiness for joy cannot be extinguished, and Nic led the way, as he never stopped reaching for the smallest of pleasures in life in his constant awareness of how the energy of his heart created his world. Nic knew that Love is everything, and everything is Love. He knew we cannot fail at love, that it cannot be lost or forgotten, only perhaps hidden for a time, beneath our fear. But always, even in the darkest of moments, Nic knew how to return to joy, and he made it very clear that this was his wish for everyone, should he leave to join his mom. And so from Nic to everyone who loved and loves him, cry as much and as often as you need. But then get ready to live a really great party, with food and drink and wild drumming and unbridled dance. Because, as Nic knew so well, every piece we are given of life is worthy of celebration. And there’s no need to look elsewhere. Love is already here.
Rays of light photo by Stefan Podrabinski