Nickie Mehrabi
3rd February 1964 – 10th August 2005

Born February 3rd. 1964 in Mount Pleasant Hospital in Swansea after a very difficult birth which led the hospital staff to indicate that she was likely to have suffered brain damage due to lack of oxygen. Nickie was conceived in London during the first World Congress and we jokingly considered calling her the “Most Great Jubilee”. I was at the time a student teacher and her first four years were spent in Swansea. Nickie attended nursery school in Swansea until we moved in 1968 to Tobermory on the Isle of Mull. The Headmaster had said she could go straight into the Primary school on arrival but once there he said this was impossible as the rule was that you had to be 5 years old and he could not make an exception. When we explained to her that the school wouldn’t take her she immediately responded: “That won’t be necessary. I can take myself.”
I remember how it hurt when we told her that it was time for our first 19 Day Feast on Mull. She looked delighted and said: “Great! Who’s coming?” She couldn’t imagine a Feast without her Bahá’í family.

Nickie’s twelve years in Tobermory were not all that easy. She was a ‘foreigner’, the daughter of a teacher and a Bahá’í. That was a lot to carry and she even encountered prejudice from one of her teachers. In such a small school there is not a great choice of friends but one girl, Susan Oliver, became a life-long friend and dropped all to help look after her during the last months of her life. Her other friends, and kind of extended family, were mostly a lot older than her – the Bahá’ís of Mull.

When she was 15 her grandma in Cornwall became terminally ill with a form of cancer. I went down with her but couldn’t stay on so Nickie offered to stay and hold her hand till she died which was quite an experience at any age.
At 17 Nickie moved with her family to France having completed her ‘O’ grades. She stayed only one year, attempting to do her ‘A’ Levels by correspondence. This proved to be difficult, especially as I had hoped to help her but was too busy with the struggle to survive to be much use. She learned to speak French quite fluently but had to return to England where she stayed with friends near Reading and got her ‘A’ Levels in school.
Then Nickie went to Haifa to serve in the janitorial department. One day she phoned us up in alarm because she had seen the name of her, ex-boyfriend, Vahid Mehrabi, on the list of new arrivals to work in the same department as her and she wasn’t sure she could cope with that and wondered if she should leave. A few days later she phoned to say they would like to get married, which, after a short delay, they did at a very beautiful and simple ceremony.
Fairly soon after that Vahid got the chance to do a course in agricultural engineering, so after due consultation they were released from work at the World Centre and moved to Dunfermline in 1983 where they stayed a year. By the time they moved to Lochmaben in 1985 Nickie was 8 months pregnant with Kian who was born in Dumfries hospital, followed a year later by Maïtri. The move to Lochmaben was a pioneer move to open the District and at the same time to be closer to Vahid’s parents, Daryoosh and Jackie Mehrabi.
In 1994 Nickie was accepted to do a four-year arts degree course in Carlisle which she loved and packed in an enormous number of hours to do. Following that she was invited to join a textile company based in Moffat where she produced designs. Eventually the need to produce so many new designs endlessly and every day weighed upon her and she gave in her notice, finding the pressure too great. In 1996 Nickie was called back to Bayonne in France to see her mother before she died of cancer. Denise managed to hold on just long enough to see her and say goodbye before passing on barely a minute later.

For several years Nickie and Vahid became pillars of the dance workshop scheme for youth in Scotland (TAS). Despite inadequate resources this proved an enormous success and helped many youth ‘find themselves’ and each other. However, the load was eventually too much and became unsustainable, so with great regret they had to call a halt.
Nickie produced quantities of art work, both painting and sculpture with textiles and participated in various exhibitions.
Subsequently Nickie got a job as a home carer which proved good, though short-lived, as her cancer developed and she had to stop work.
About the time that Nickie had started her first bout of chemotherapy a BBC producer who was planning to do a series of three programmes – Hatches, Matches and Despatches – approached Maureen Sier, chairman of the Interfaith commission for Scotland. She suggested they contact Nickie who, after a first encounter and careful consultation with members of her family agreed to do a series of televised recordings insofar as her declining health permitted. Her main concern was to be satisfied she could trust them. In fact they became like family friends. Three of them attended the funeral. They interviewed Nickie & Vahid as well as Jeremy Fox and Nick Sier, who made her coffin.

Nickie was modest but very independent-minded. She would read the writings in great depth, not in order to accumulate knowledge intellectually, but digging deep to relate what she read to their practical application in life. She was very nonjudgmental and full of creative imagination. She undoubtedly often under-estimated herself and her abilities, convinced that she was no good at teaching the Faith which was patently untrue. As she knew she was dying she certainly touched the lives of many people – Bahá’ís, non-Bahá’ís, medical staff – and was, I think, a living example to us all of how a Bahá’í should approach death. It will be interesting to see what justice the BBC will manage to do in editing the material they recorded with her, Vahid and others when it comes out in December on BBC2.

Nickie’s final gift to us was her funeral service which she prepared meticulously in consultation with Vahid and which touched so many hearts by its beauty and simplicity. She took with her a ‘friendship rug’, an idea initiated by her sister, and put together by many friends who visited and found themselves engaged in making a flower, a bird, a snail or whatever inspired them. Pat Morrissey’s fish became a poem which was so touching that it was included in the funeral service. Nick Sier composed a beautiful piece for guitar, also included in the funeral service, which he called “Butterflies”. After her mum died Nickie had done a series of paintings involving butterflies which to her symbolised transformation.

Nickie’s grave is on the outskirts of Dumfries close to the grave of her father-in-law, Daryoush.

And some Personal Thoughts from Vahid

It was a Wednesday – rubbish bin day – on which Nickie left this world to continue her journey to the presence of God. ‘Worlds spiritually glorious’ the quotation says, ‘will be unveiled to your eyes.’ I cry most days alone in the cottage here. Sometimes it’s a piece of music that starts me sobbing, sometimes it’s whilst praying for her progress, sometimes it’s in the car with a CD on. Sometimes it’s in my solitude with no noise going on except my own thoughts. I miss her so. The feel of her hand the smell of her hair. The conversations we had the exploring of meanings in the Writings we shared.
I know she is fine, and is surrounded by wonderful souls, sharing her story and being close to her; of this I have no doubt and know it to be true. I once felt I would look on my new life with eager anticipation but I cannot get enthusiastic about it at the moment. For the main part I do feel sad, I look on people I see around who are over 40 years old as peculiar, how is it they are here but Nickie is not. The postman continues to bring cards from kind souls who remember Nickie fondly and who share in their words with me, how Nickie’s soul is transcending all bounds in its flight to the presence of God and I understand that. The pain is still there; it’s like half of me has been severed and I am a bit lopsided.
We were (are) so close; we loved each other dearly, and even as I write this, tears are welling once again. Last night I stopped breathing and moments before filling my lungs I thought maybe I just shouldn’t breath in and then I would be with her, but we do not have that choice to make. That is Bahá’u’lláh’s direct.

On the Wednesday, after 11am, I made over 40 phone calls – we had prepared a list. My first call was to Kian, and I couldn’t get the words out and just cried at him. He understood and after my tenth call I phoned him back and told him I had now called ten others so I had become used to breaking the news, poor chap. I also managed to arrange the funeral program, secure a plot, arrange for vehicles, wash and wrap Nickie in her silk shroud, put her in the coffin with the handmade blanket, sealing the coffin too. It was no wonder I was exhausted by the end of the day. Maitri had made a ceramic ‘ring’ with the verse on it which she, with my help, managed to put on Nickie’s finger before things stiffened too much. I put my hand over Nickie’s face and felt her eyes under the silk and thought, “This is my wife.”
For 20 years we were married, each year better than the last, a true union – and here again my eyes are welling as I type. Glorious years serving Bahá’u’lláh with various projects and rising to family commitments – I have no regrets other than I wish we had spent more private time together, hardly a regret but something I would have liked to have done. I remember once when Kian and Maitri were going to be away for a weekend which meant we would have two days alone at home. We had a plan to go away for a few days, but it all fell through, which meant we had to stay at home; Nickie’s response to my discomfort was that we have all of eternity to be together and our children need us now. Well, although true, it still pinched but she truly did see things in this way. The next world was such a vivid reality and she visited it daily in her prayers and mind. I too have similar thoughts and it is normal since the reality is that we will all get there and this fleeting moment or twinkling of an eye is not real.

Still the pain lingers. Everywhere I look I see her. As time passes so will this hurt of that, I am sure. With there being no time in the next world for Nickie it will be as if she left me a few seconds ago, for me it could be 50 years. A lot of time to do a lot of service in her name and dedicate it to her so she grows and develops into something even more beautiful.

I am deeply, deeply moved by the prayers, the good wishes, the support of all those that have given. Nickie once said to me that she saw all these people as holy souls that are preparing her and handing her over to souls in the next world. Dear, dear Nickie, I think a suitable quote on her headstone would be ‘Thou art My lamp and My light is in thee.’ She was so radiant with a smile for all she met.