What We Ought to Do
Personal reflections, in the wake of Nikki Delamotte’s tragic passing.
I’m watching little Clark Henry play with some blocks on strings. He knocks them off their platform gleefully, but once they have all fallen, he shouts and yells for help—his favorite toys are gone, and he needs me to help him get them back. I oblige, of course, and happily. I can solve his little dilemmas for him now. When he rolls onto his tummy in his sleep, I can help turn him back around again when he wakes up. I lift him from place to place. That’s what I ought to do, since I am his caretaker.
This past weekend, the city of Cleveland lost one of its caretakers; she was a contributor of words and a giver of support. Anyone who was ‘doing their thing,’ anyone making their place in the world, had a chance to have the spotlight shine on them through Nikki’s writing. Nikki Delamotte was a treasure, and her life was taken from her.
I’m grieving her loss as an admirer, someone who respected her and her work, who had the chance to have the spotlight because of her. Nikki supported me.
What we all ought to do is take a lesson from Nikki’s incredible character. She was a caretaker of our stories, not for her own personal gain, but because she loved to take care of us. We all ought to do our best to be more like Nikki, and lift each other up.
I never thought we’d have to imagine a Cleveland without Nikki Delamotte in it. It still feels incomprehensible to think that she isn’t here, and that we won’t see her smiling face, popping in and out of nearly every arts event, every concert, every holiday craft market around town.
An article I read yesterday pointed out that Nikki would RSVP to every local Facebook event she was ever invited to. I always noticed this – whenever I’d mark “Interested,” and take a look at the details, I saw that she was already way ahead of the game. There was her name, already top of the “Interested” list. She was the ultimate champion for our local arts and culture scene. What are we going to do without her?
I only interacted with Nikki a handful of times, but she was always so kind. She was eager to elaborate on how great a local musician was, or how excellent a zine show turned out. She was the opposite of a Debbie Downer. I’d come across her articles all the time – sometimes reading them fully, sometimes only skimming them – but I neglected to let her know how much I appreciated her writing, her attention to detail.
Last week, reading her piece on the reopening of the taqueria at La Plaza Supermarket, I was so glad she was spreading the word about this underrated gem in Cleveland. But I never actually typed those words in a message to her. I’m sure I’m not the only Clevelander who is feeling the crushing weight of 20/20 hindsight, and wishing I had let her know just how much her work resonated. In light of Nikki’s passing, let’s remember to let others know when their work is appreciated, and when their doings resonate with us.