Just five days before she died, Chris Nichols interviewed Chris about living artfully. The conversation was filmed and edited by Chris Nichols’ son Ric. I found it almost unbearably poignant to watch at first, but I’m sharing it because it’s a wonderful memorial to Chris’s indomitable spirit and creativity.
The diamond-shaped object shown in the film, on which Chris has, in her words, “sprinkled some glitter” – actually gold leaf – is a mort brod, an ancient form of memento mori inspired by one we saw hanging in St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall a few years ago.
Chris designed it and made it herself with the help of local artist Nicola Clarke whose extra pair of hands compensated for Chris’s increasing lack of dexterity. It hangs in a window by the front door of Folly Cottage, as a sign of mourning and as a daily reminder of the transience and preciousness of all our lives.
In the last few weeks of her life, Chris wrote about the idea of a cosmological self, and what it might mean to more fully acknowledge that we are intrinsically and unavoidably aspects of the infinite and terrible beauty of the universe. Artful as ever, she expressed this expansive sense of belonging – her “juicy edge” – in the images decorating the mort brod, as you can glimpse in the film.
Thank you Chris and Ric Nichols for making this film and allowing us to share it.
Hi Geoff, I only had a brief encounter with Chris during a day of meetings at Crossfields. Excitedly saying to my colleagues on the train home that I thought we would all do some creative work together. Alas, not the case. Thank you for sharing this post. I am both moved and quietly renewed in play and the goings on of our connectedness. I am glad to have glimpsed Chris’ essence. Thank you. Rebekah
Thank you for your comment Rebekah. It is extraordinary to learn just how many people’s lives Chris touched. Geoff
I read the Farewell to a great soul in the Winter Newsletter of the School of Storytelling and via FB (which I rarely visit) I found your blog. The thought of Chris not being among us really shocked and frightened me – and I am grateful for your sharing. I have only known Chris from brief encounters but she was a delight to see and that remarkable scene during one of Vivian’s courses she gave, about a man walking by the river and a great silver fish tumbling happily in the current, will always stay with me in its sheer visual and emotional power.
Through your words and thoughts her soul resonates and you being with her this way gives her back some of the palpable validity of a living being among the living. With those I loved and lost over the years I haven’t lost connection; sometimes they visit me in a dream, sometimes in my thoughts and they leave their comments among them, sometimes I feel one of them standing behind me and looking over my left shoulder (they all seem to be taller than they physically were) and I hear their voice among my own thoughts, albeit not with my ears. It is always an uplifting experience. Not the Real Thing, of course not, but brief visits and greetings and responses get through from beyond the hedge at the end of the garden, as an affirmation, that we, too, are remembered and not forgotten.
The fact that a few minutes ago as I was contemplating a response to your post I just randomly and without thinking clicked onto an older post of yours and it turned out to be „Staring at the Sun” from 25th of may 2012, was poignant and may have been a word from Chris somehow, which I find comforting. As Nasrudin says: „I say and it is no lie, that I never, never die.” Greetings from Livia
Chris “added glitter” to everything and everyone. Loved you to bits dear daughter. xxx