While the world celebrated 2016 a week ago, my sister’s world fell apart. Her 19 year-old son, Nick, lost his life.
From a young age, Nick had a larger than life personality and a presence and smile that lit the room. His elementary school teachers shared that Nick was the best friend of most of his classmates. We guess that 500 attended his wake earlier this week, including a number of teachers and coaches.
Nick was involved in sports, and particularly loved playing football. One of his life’s highlights was making the winning touchdown in 8th grade. His mother (my kid sister) began a baseball league as an alternative to the competition of the highly-ranked local team. The league grew for several years, and expanded into other sports such as football. Eventually, my sister was hired by the local “Y” to organize their sports leagues and summer day camp.
The lives of family members revolved around the “Y”. My nephews and niece participated in leagues, and as they matured they became referees and lifeguards. They mentored youngsters, and were particularly drawn to children at-risk. They welcomed these young children into their lives and home.
As it is in the nonprofit world, not everything is rosy. In high school, Nick made some poor choices, and became addicted to alcohol and Xanax, and the law eventually caught up with him. Through a social services agency, he spent several months in 2015 in rehab. He attended AA and NA meetings, and earned certificates. He was consistently “clean” for his drug tests. He felt positive, and planned to enroll in community college this summer to earn his EMT certificate. He adopted a prairie dog prior to Christmas, named her “Nutz”, and changed his Facebook status to “Married to Nutz Lamberti” — vintage goofy Nick!
Unfortunately, Nick decided he earned a free pass on New Year’s Eve and attended a party where he drank and was offered Xanax — a lethal combination. Nick died at home between 3 and 3:15 a.m.
Why do I share this story? It shows the positive impact of nonprofit organizations in this family’s life: whether participating in children’s sports leagues, volunteering as coaches and commissioners, supporting recovery from addiction, or bringing together a community to surround a grieving family with love and support. My sister and her family plan to attend Al Anon meetings to share and heal.
We miss you, Nick, and pray that your soul has found peace.