Nicholas Sharp: January 15, 1990 to August 16, 2007

Nicholas Sharp, playing the bugle, Hawks' Nest in the background

With great sadness we report the death of Nicholas Sharp on August 17, 2007. Nick, age 17, was a camper for twelve years, coming each summer with his family from Maryland during Week 5. After struggling with mental illness for several years, Nick took his own life. He was curious by nature and, as his family shared, was ready to explore the next plane.

Nick was a lover of the natural world with passions for birding, photography, boating, and archery. As a trumpet player, Nick often played the bugle for the camp and his contributions to the community will be remembered with fondness.

He was a thoughtful and kindhearted individual and his life was a gift to all who knew him. His death is a great loss to the Three Mile Island community.

Nick is survived by his mother, Sherry Sharp, sisters Natalie and Nina Sharp, father Greg Sharp, and grandfather Dave Sharp.

Condolences may be sent to the Sharp Family:

Sherry Sharp
218 W. Water St.
Centreville, MD 21617

Greg Sharp
315 Surrey Lane
Queenstown, MD 21658

Notes from Kate Kelly and Landis Rogers

It was with consummate sadness that we joined the Gallivan family in Maryland to pay our respects to the family of Nick Sharp. We know that many Three-Milers were with us in spirit.

Some may be unaware that Nick suffered permanent neurological damage from his July 2005 episode of meningitis. Like many intelligent and perceptive people, he hid his struggle well. He enjoyed his week at 3 Mile this July. Nicholas took his own life on Thursday, August 16, 2007. He had finished High School this spring, and was due to return this fall to the college he was already attending. He was applying to transfer to Dartmouth.

Nick spent Christmas week with us last year. Our experience with him confirmed what we had already believed: we found him insatiably intelligent, considerate, respectful, brave, and kind, with enthusiasm for a breadth of interests unusual among young people today. During his visit, he spoke warmly and at length about school, his home, his family, and his plans for the future. He talked about his friends' farm near his home, where he indulged and deepened his appreciation for nature and the larger world around him.

We heard the same impressions echoed by many at his funeral. The Reverend who led his service spoke about ripples from a stone tossed into a pond as a metaphor for the effect of our actions upon the world around us. As we entered the service, we each received a stone. During the service, we each went forward to place our stone into a bowl, as people shared their memories about Nick. Some of his friends had gotten together and composed a memory book, which their teachers read at the service. Dave Sharp, Nick's grandfather, told the story of Nick learning to play the TMI bugle by practicing in the walk-in refrigerator so that no one else could hear. The Reverend also read from Nick's last letter, in which Nick thanked the many who had tried to help him and urged his loved ones not to hold themselves responsible for his decision.

Everyone considers suicide at some point in life. Considering it is not a sign of being crazy or being weak, it's a sign of suffering, and a sign that we need to ask for help. Pressure from society tells us we are not "supposed" to acknowlege our sadness, our uncertainty, our suffering. We are supposed to be happy and have our act together all the time. That expectation is a recipe for misery. We have lost the part of life about sharing, and think we need to carry our burdens alone without troubling those around us. THAT is the craziness. We need to return to communicating with one another. That was one of the things Nick so enjoyed about Three Mile—it gives people the time and opportunity to talk meaningfully together across generations.

In my work as an internist, I spend a lot of time with death and dying. It doesn't help to cut the impact of this kind of loss. Nick was an extraordinary young man, and his loss leaves the world a darker place. In the metaphor of the ripples on the water caused by our actions lie the messages his death holds for me: first, if Nick's death opens a dialogue that prevents one other person from acting on the thougth of suicide, that light is rekindled; second, by following his example of fervently embracing the people we care for and the things that interest us, we strengthen and share that light; finally, by overcoming our sadness and honoring the memory of an extraordinary young man sharing our support with those he left behind, we move from the darkness of grief and loss to the light of healing for ourselves and our community.

Nick leaves his sisters Natalie and Nina, his mother Sherry, father Greg, grandfather Dave, grandmother Bonnie, a lovely young woman who was very special to him, and a whole town who turned out for his service. We will each miss him in our own way.