DON’T BE SICK, BE NIC: LIVE UNTIL YOU DIE
Up from Under: Live until you Die is the story of what happened when my husband and I faced off with death in two contrasting countries.
In 1998, my partner-in-art, composer and saxophonist Nic Gotham happily traded the indie theatre and jazz clubs of Queen Street West in Toronto to move to the Wild East of post-Soviet Latvia. We moved to Riga with our two small children and stayed in that never-a-dull-moment country until the unthinkable happened fourteen years later.
After multiple misdiagnoses, we discovered Nic had Stage 4 cancer. A brutal operation put him into a coma.He woke up a virtual paraplegic in a barebones Riga hospital, unable to speak or swallow. My kids and I nursed him back to a semblance of health by hunting for instructions on the Internet. We practically fled back to Canada. When the cancer roared back soon after, a community of people rallied their forces to turn Nic’s terminal diagnosis into our last creative project.
Up from Under is my story as much as it is Nic's. It’s about what it takes to be the caregiver, to morph into the grief expert. It's the story of Nic's militant optimism and my hard-won resilience, a how-to for walking along the edge of life.
Nic punched the keyboard; the program notes were done. "I'm calling the piece Up from Under. Because of Hurricane Katrina. And jazz. I imagine New Orleans completely submerged, and then leaping out of the aquatic depths, jumping around and dancing wildly.” He pushed his glasses up his nose and grinned. "It's perfect, right?