Christian O’Neill, © 2004
In February of 2003, a fire destroyed the Station Nightclub in West Warwick, Rhode Island. One hundred lives were lost. This tragedy, among the worst nightclub fires in American history, had a traumatic effect on the people of Rhode Island. The youngest of the one hundred victims, barely eighteen, was my brother Nicholas. Already an accomplished actor and musician, Nick was a beloved member of the Rhode Island arts community. He was, of course, far more than that to my family.
In some families, there is that one child. Not everyone would understand. Particular spans in age or family structures may have something to do with it. But for some families, there’s one child, blessed with a peculiar warmth, humor, strength and intuition, whose existence ties everyone else closer together, one child who is the mover and the standard for measurement of time and space and energy.
For us, that was Nicky. He was ten years my junior
and as they years passed, I grew to realize that he was more like a son to me
than a little brother. He was equal parts golden cherub and grinning imp,
innocent/ wise, manic/serene, dazzling/quiet, unassuming/unforgettable,
brilliant in all the most unconventional ways. Nick was more than glue for my
family; he was its beating, glowing heart, and he was my best friend.