Chris, a friend of mine in San Diego since 2007 when we met over a beer and some art talk, sends me fun photos, wisecracks, jokes, memes and personal stories from his life as an artist. He’s a prolific airbrush artist, always a pro head-to-toe, hard-working and always busy.

Over the years I have received always-amusing, one- or two-line emails from him. Minimalist commentary from a fellow artist and someone who, like me, enjoys biting back at would-be internet scammers.

Today he shot a few lines and a link at me… notes on his weekend airbrushing shirts for a party, etc.

The first event I did, they didn’t feed us — and the guests got food poisoning!
The second event set me up directly in front of the DJ and his speakers and then they played Pop the Balloon (by sitting on it abruptly) 4 feet from where I was painting!!
It’s never easy!

Then he added,

A tree fell on a car on Ingraham right after I turned around and went home. The driver was killed, unfortunately.

I live nearly 500 miles north of San Diego now, but I wanted to know more… and see if it was someone I know from my life back then. So I looked up local San Diego stories and discovered it was a beautiful, 48-year woman, Nicki Carano — a drummer in a band called Spider Tree, driving herself alone to their gig in Ocean Beach.

Seems a huge tree uprooted itself in the storm-softened soil and high winds pushed it over. It fell across the road crushing three cars. Hers was the only one occupied, and she was reportedly killed instantly.

There is something about the way her life instantly (and innocently) ended that struck me. I actually said out loud, when I saw the photo of her crushed car, “Wow… when it’s your time to go…”

And I thought about the amount in time between life and death — potentially for any of us. Instant for some. I thought of families with things left unsaid, like I love you, or I’m sorry. I thought about how so many opportunities to do right, to do more, to give or to take back — all completely disappear in that same moment in time. Forever.

I read a bit about her and sent back a message to Chris that the driver was a woman, I added her name, and that it appears she was an active musician and teacher in San Diego.

Killed instantly in a freak car accident  when a huge tree uprooted in the storm, crushing her car.

Killed instantly in a freak accident when a huge tree uprooted and fell in the storm, crushing her alone in her car.

Little did I know I was a mere two degrees of separation from Nicki Carano — who leaves behind broken-hearted family, friends, music lovers and drum and tap students, along with fellow performers in the San Diego Academy of Performing Arts.

Chris has known her for 30 years, passed by her shop regularly, just recently bought a flute from her, knew her when she worked in a shop next to his shop on the boardwalk in Pacific Beach when she was a kid.

He’s stunned. Sad.


He added “It’s odd that I found out from you.”

Yes it is. And it’s odd that something seemingly completely random that happened to someone I never knew — a friend of a friend — has profoundly affected me from 500 miles away. My prayers go out for the family and friend of Nicki Carano. #nickicarano