In Loving Memory of Nicole
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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Virginia Tech: Reflection & Renewal
The Last Gift of The Fallen Was to Make Us Stronger
The Last Gift of The Fallen Was to Make Us Stronger

April 13, 2008

By Charles J. Dudley, Guest Columnist

BLACKSBURG, Va. — On a rise above the Drillfield, the semicircle of stones rests near the center of campus. It is a busy place. Students pass by on their way to and from residence halls to class, the main transfer point for the Blacksburg Transit System connects the entire town to this spot, the Corps of Cadets marches by on a regular schedule, and — in the evenings of spring semester– the field is alive with students at play. It is but a short walk to the east to find the War Memorial Chapel and its eight pylons representing the core values of the university. In short, this place lies at the physical and moral heart of Virginia Tech.

The stones appeared overnight last April 16. Students in Hokies United gathered and arranged them in their current design. Since the original placement, the stones have become one of the most visited spots on campus. Groups often visit, including the New York Yankees baseball team just a few weeks ago. The university improved the site and added some plants and a walkway.

It is appropriate that the lives of the students and faculty taken from us one year ago this week be remembered in a center of activity — and not in a remote quiet place. Here they are among us every day.

For me, these stones represent much more than the sadness following the loss of many wonderful people. Thinking back to the abject horror of that day, the stones stand as a monument to the fierce determination on the part of Tech students to protect what is valuable about this university. In the days following, the entire university community came together to remember the dead, the wounded, and their families with dignity and honor. The campus struggled with the end of the semester. New security plans were made and implemented. As the days passed, the impromptu memorial became a part of who we are as a university.

The university made these stones looking over the Drillfield the permanent remembrance of the tragic events of that day. For me and I suspect others, the stones also represent the qualities our students bring to this campus. They give the faculty much to work with in the tasks of learning.

The youthfulness of the university community often tricks our minds into believing it to be a place that death does not visit. Such is not the case. University Honors at Virginia Tech serves about 1,500 students. Three were killed on April 16. Leslie Sherman, Austin Cloyd, and Maxine Turner have been joined this academic year by Nicole Lee (auto accident) and Meredith Winall (illness). Five vital young women, five people of talent, lost to us in a single year. The death of our young people always seems more difficult. As with any community the size of Tech, we have our share of loss.

This April 16 members of the Honors community will gather in front of Hillcrest Hall to plant tress for Austin Cloyd and Maxine Turner. Our plans are to plant trees each year for students who have died. A tree planted for Leslie Sherman by the Main Campbell Honors Community last spring provided the beginning of this practice. Next year we will remember Nicole and Meredith.

Stones and trees. When we humans seek to remember and commemorate we often do so with these symbols. An oak tree recently removed from the lawn at Hillcrest was well over two hundred years old. To plant a tree in remembrance is a promise to remember for a long time, The stones will last even longer. So I look forward to our gathering this week as a time to recall our absent friends and to restate important values. Such meetings help remind us of the obligations of being alive. We will prevail and even more we shall go forward. The last gift of the fallen was to make us stronger.

All this is true, but I would still rather go to my office on Monday to meet Leslie, Austin, Maxine, Nicole and Meredith — and to laugh once again the joy of youth.

3:11 pm edt

Thursday, May 1, 2008

By Maddie Zingeser read at the funeral
I remember walking over to the bus stop on my first day of elementary school and quietly standing waiting for the bus with my mom, when a girl wearing pig tails and bright pink outfit came running and jumping, not walking, towards me eager to introduce herself. When she finally stopped talking and laughing and asking me about myself, I remember my mom and I looking at each other in shock that someone could even speak that quickly and with that much enthusiasm. When we got to school, she was very quick to introduce me to all of her girl scout friends, her two best childhood friends chris and jj, and soon I wasn’t the new girl anymore, I had a group of friends and a second home. It was Nicole, and since 1st grade she has been my classmate, my best friend, and my sister.
When we all gathered at Kaitlyn’s house Sunday, people had begun to write Nicole letters, and one of her favorite games Apples to Apples was on the kitchen table. We all were going through the game looking at the adjectives on the cards and picking out all of the ones that reminded us of Nicole such as nerdy, natural, talented, and of course luscious (haha). But for some reason, I was having a really hard time trying to pick out cards that I felt could sum up our Nicole. Then someone or something must have intervened, because at that moment that I felt so lost and confused as to how I could try and define my best friend I looked down and saw a card that was blank and in the middle read “create your own”. Not a single word or groups of words could even attempt to scratch the surface of Nicole’s soul and her incredible personality; the only thing left to do is to try and create our own word.
I could sit here and name adjective after adjective to try and capture who Nicole was, but that would be pointless, because whether you knew Nicole for 5 minutes or 5 years you could tell the kind of person she was from her infamous smile. The smile that sometimes was accompanied by an awkward giggle or the ever popular nose twitch, the smile that no matter what was wrong or who made me upset instantly gave me comfort. Her smile was the window to her soul, a soul that was devoted to serving others and putting herself second. Anyone who ever met Nicole instantly became enthralled with her, because to know Nicole was to love Nicole.
Bob Marley once said, “Love the life you live, live the life you love.” This outlook defined how Nicole embraced life. She never made excuses for the person she was or what she believed in, she never compromised her ideals or values just to conform to whatever dumb activity our friends were involved in or whatever clothes were in fashion. She didn’t care that she couldn’t carry a tune even if I shouted the right notes into her ear and still sang at the top of her lungs with intricate facial expressions and awkward dance movements. Our car rides to and from school senior year is what kept our friendship so perfect and kept us so close. We knew that even if we didn’t see each other throughout the day or were unable to be together during the weekend, come 6 o’clock in the morning or 2:10 in the afternoon, Nicole and I would be able to reunite and catch each other up on whatever was going on in our lives. I would give anything in the world to hear her sing NSYNC, the Spice Girls, or our favorite, goofy movie soundtrack while driving around in her car laughing hysterically, but then all of a sudden breaking out in a profound conversation that always involved a ridiculous analogy that no one would understand but us.
From religious debates, to relationship issues, from writing songs to remember all of the amendments to the constitution, to our weekly bru cru sleepovers with Michelle and Jessica, not a moment or memory crosses my mind that was not made 10 times more special because Nicole was there. She was devoted to her family and her friends, and would do anything to ensure that we were all happy and doing ok. Well Nicole, I don’t know if we will ever be ok, or accept what was done to you, for you were taken from us. But, we will try to move on, your friends and I will continue to go to class and attempt to live up to your academic excellence, we will sing at the top of our lungs as off key as possible to truly capture your spirit and carefree attitude, we will play or prospective sports with passion and intensity, but still remember to have fun, we will try to remain true to ourselves and not make any excuses for why we believe in something or who we love, and we will do all of this with a smile on our face and you in our hearts. I love you so much; you’re my fri-ster for ever.
8:16 pm edt

By Michelle Favin read at the funeral
It was my first of three times ever going skiing—all brought by Nicole, of course. Needless to say, I was not at Nicole’s Black Diamond level. However, determined to properly introduce me to her love that was skiing, Nicole stuck it out with me on every bunny slope that I attempted.

On one of the runs, I completely fell out before we got to the bottom. Embarrassingly because the bunny slope curves at about a 25 degree angle.

Surrendering to the cold and wet snow, I see Nicole gracefully ending her trip and yelling, “Shelly! Are you ok?”

I was still completely awkward on ski’s and was convinced there was no way I would be able to get up alone.

But in no time, there was Nicole trudging up the hill with a huge smile on her face—ready to laugh this off with me so I wouldn’t feel too bad.

As she neared closer, I somehow did manage to scramble to my feet, just in time for Nicole to reach me.

We had a moment of hilarity as she reenacted my pitiful wipeout and she said, “I knew you could get up alone, I just wanted you to know that I would be here to help you if you couldn’t”

I had a bond, deeper than any, in my friendship with Nicole. She was my rock, my wing woman, my other half, never failing to drop everything just to bring me ice cream during rough patches.

I say that I wouldn’t be who I am today without her guidance, truly meaning it and knowing that she will always be there to help me up. She was famous for her mix cds, and I even have one labeled, “For shellmysterr: To lift you up when you have fallen, and with a picture of my skiing on the front. She was an inspiration to me, full of wisdom, beauty, compassion, and light.

But what made Nicole, my best friend, so special was that everyone saw, shared, and loved the light she gave. She devoted her life to the bonds she made with her friends and family—clear in the amount of people today that have been touched by her warmth.

Nicole, I love you and will love you forever. You’re my best friend, and I’ll never forget you.

11:42 am edt

By Harry Rosenbaum read at the funeral
When I made the decision to go to VT as part of the honors community I was worried I would be isolated from the rest of the school, and have trouble making friends outside the community, so I told Nicole, “Make sure you introduce me to all the friends you make so I know some people outside of Hillcrest,” the dorm where I would live. I was with Nicole a lot the first few days of college, and I started to bring her over to Hillcrest to meet some of my new friends. There was an instant connection. But there always was with Nicole. Nicole started spending all of her time at Hillcrest, and soon knew the entire dorm. Almost everyone assumed Nicole lived in Hillcrest, considering she was there from the time she woke up to one or two the next morning. Nicole actually lived in Harper, a dorm right across the street, and soon the joke developed that Nicole “lived in Hillcrest, but slept in Harper.”
Nicole became the quintessential Hillcrester. She fully engaged herself in every Hillcrest activity and organized many more. It started when she joined in on our card games – cleaning us out in poker, and dominating our bridge games. Nicole was our go to person, she made so many of our weekend plans and could get everyone excited about them, no matter what they were. Nicole told me once that she felt it was “better to regret something that you did do, than something you didn’t.” She seized every opportunity in college to do something fun and exciting. I know she made the first semester of college amazing for everyone around her.

There are about a hundred people who live in Hillcrest, and Nicole knew almost everyone. Even with all these friends, Nicole made each one feel special. She connected with everyone. Her smile, and radiant personality brought people she barely knew close to her. It brightened everyone’s day to hear Nicole and her laugh coming down the halls of Hillcrest, and then have her peek her head in your room– just to see you.

This last week with Nicole was the greatest week any of us have ever had with her; it seems fitting that there was never a dull moment. Who else but Nicole could rally 20 people to clean Wal-Mart out of lasertag gear, run around in 15 degree weather and belly crawl through five inches of snow? Cards were something that defined Nicole; how many other people would spend their time playing Spades, belting out “Mississippi Queen,” never once letting the opponents return from their deficit, and enjoying every minute of what was to be her last game? Only Nicole.

One of the things that I feel lucky to have done is that I told Nicole how I really felt about her. I feel that telling someone they are extraordinary is the greatest compliment you can ever give. It says so much about that person. Every facet of who they are must be special. Every characteristic must be amazing and inspiring to those around them. I told Nicole how I felt about her. Nicole Michelle Lee was an extraordinary person.

11:37 am edt

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

By Jessica James read at the funeral
I met Nicole in 6th grade but it wasn’t until the summer before freshman year when the four of us were brought together. I remember the first time we hung out at Lakeforest Mall. I’m almost positive that we spent hours at American Eagle, Nicole’s signature clothing brand. Afterwards we went back to my house and played the board game Cranium. That game became an instant classic with us and will forever remind me of the outrageously fun times we shared together. There was an instant connection and chemistry that you only find once in a lifetime or not at all. It was then that four brunettes Nicole, Maddie, Michelle, and I formed the “Bru Crew.” We immediately established traditions like exchanging Secret Santa gifts at the Cheesecake Factory, having rendezvous in her bed or hot tub, exchanging our special traveling purse over the summer, buying matching souvenirs whenever each of us made a trip, and of course playing Cranium as much as possible. Throughout high school our bond held me together. I was so awkward but I think that’s a quality that drew Nicole and I to each other in the first place. With her I felt safe and secure at a time when I could have easily lost myself in the pressures of being a freshman at Magruder.
Being with Nicole meant never having to worry about wearing makeup or the right clothes. It meant that at any time you should be prepared to laugh uncontrollably. It meant you could openly talk about your obsession with The Lord of the Rings and Viggo Mortensen, or in Michelle’s case Orlando Bloom. It meant that you could expect to have your butt kicked in Star Wars Trivia. It meant on the weekends you were always going to meet someone new that she was friends with through the dozens of activities and organizations she was involved with. It meant that if you were having a bad day you could call and vent or just hang out in her cluttered and disorganized room for a few hours. It meant that you always had to be prepared to challenge yourself intellectually. But most importantly it meant that you were loved and appreciated for exactly who you are.

It’s tragic that so many people will be deprived of meeting Nicole and being touched by her radiant personality. So many men have yet to fall in love with her wacky sense of humor. So many people have yet to learn how to do the Rubik’s Cube or hear the trumpeting of her blowing her nose. I knew we were close as soon as she taught me how to inject her with her EpiPen in case a bee stung her.

One night last semester I was an emotional wreck and decided to call her. College was like starting high school all over again, except this time I didn’t have her to make me feel safe and to keep me from losing myself in the pressures of starting a new life on my own. I needed so badly for someone to be there for me; and she was there – exactly as wacky and adventurous as I left her. She asked me if I wanted to work at Disney World with her over the summer as one of the people who wears the characters’ costumes and take pictures with kids. I thought she was joking and declined, but looking back I should have realized she was being serious. I would give anything right now to spend a summer in Florida with her, even if it means that I would have to be dressed as Goofy the whole time. I’m sure she never forgave me for brushing off so many of her half-baked ideas. That’s ok because I will never forgive her for stranding me and Danielle at the top of a difficult ski trail the first and last time I went skiing, for harassing me on the phone whenever I skipped school, for giving me hot pockets and ice cream every time I came over, and for leaving so suddenly and without saying goodbye.

Just before we all left for college, the four of us piled into Nicole’s bed and talked about our big plans. Nicole’s plans weren’t just big – they were enormous. We had these visions of how all of our lives would end up. We’d meet occasionally for lunch or for drinks after we landed our high-powered jobs. She told me that under no circumstances was I allowed to get a dog because her allergies would prevent her from visiting me. There was never any doubt in my mind that Nicole could accomplish anything and everything she put her mind to. It was that night that I told my three best friends that who I am today is a direct result of our friendship. We knew that no matter what happened or how much we drifted apart we’d always be best friends, the “Bru Crew,” the Sisterhood of the Traveling Purse, and of course Fristers. Nicole, I love you so much.

7:48 pm edt

By Jennifer Pearce (Nicole’s Big Sister) read at the funeral

Hello, my name is Jennifer Pearce, and I am Nicole’s oldest big sister. This is her other big sister Sandy Myers. On behalf of her mother, father, big brother Chris, Sandy and I , and all of her extended family let me thank you for coming and being a part of Nicki’s life.

Usually you hear about how little sisters look up to their big sisters. There are 16 years separating Nicole and I and I have to say that in our case even with the age gap it was the other way around. Even this week after her accident I have found more and more reason to love and respect about her. I could write and write about her and never feel like I told you everything I need to say to honor her appropriately and in the way she so deserved. So I hope to share a few things I learned by being Nicole’s big sister.

Lesson 1 – Have unconditional love

I can’t remember a time when Nicki has ever said a bad word about anyone. She never used other people’s flaws to describe, categorize, or judge them. She was able to bond with many types of people because she always looked for good in them as individuals. I have heard from her friends from high school that she didn’t belong to one click she belonged to them all. In such a large family as ours there are many different personalities. Nicki seem to be special to everyone because she always showed she cared and accepted us for who we are.

Lesson 2 – Let your guard down

This is one of Nicki’s best qualities. There was nothing jaded about her. She was open and available to everyone she ever met. She put herself out there freely and reaped the benefits of so many deep relationship (even those that were relatively new) for it. She was such a happy girl, and I believe that was because she was able to give and receive love without hesitation or reservation. She embraced all those that crossed her path.

Lesson 3 – Build your character everyday

Nicki was the most honest person I have ever met. In 18 years as her sister I can’t remember ever catching her lying to me. I didn’t even realize I felt this way until she had passed away but she was the person in life I trusted the most. She may not have shared everything with me but I knew if she said something there was nothing but truth to it. Nicki made her own way in this world. She made her own decisions and she never felt the need to apologize for them. Some of the decisions she made were not the most popular decisions for her peer group, but she stuck to her guns and lived a life where she was always true to herself. Her character was always strong, her fortitude was deep, and she was consistent in all of her relationships.

Lesson 4 – Stay modest

Being the baby of our family Nicki was showed with love. I am sure she was told almost everyday of her life that she was beautiful, intelligent, and worthy of love and attention. The fact that so many of you are here tells me she probably heard it outside our home often as well. Nobody had to tell you she was a wonderful and successful child you just felt it being in her presence. She never was vain or boastful. She never led conversations with her accomplishments. She wasn’t needy or didn’t take advantage of the fact that we would have done anything for her. Instead Nicki used all of that love and praise to have the confidence to go out into the world and pass it on. She spread her kindness and compassion whereever she could.

Lesson 5 – Smile and Play

My family has spent hours and hours pouring over our pictures and videos and those sent to us by so many of you. In every picture almost, a light shines through Nicki’s eyes because her smile lit up her face. Over and over again I have heard about that smile this week. It was infectious. By sharing it with everyone she met she was able to just make the world around a better place. Nicki’s sense of play was on of the things I loved about her the most. In the pictures where there wasn’t a beautiful smile there was some ridiculous face she made. I am profoundly saddened that the world has lost someone so willing and open to making fun of herself and situations to entertain others. Nicki’s was just goofy, and I know that side of her is something that I will miss forever. She brightened almost every moment I ever had with her.

Lesson 6 – Live Life Like You Only Have One Every Single Day

One of the most comforting things for me this week was a quote on a memorial board at Virginia Tech. It read: A short life is not an incomplete one. This brings me so much comfort in these tragic days because I know Nicki lived such a full and active 18 years. Nicki moved at the speed of light from one activity to another. She was exceptional academically, competitive athletically, and an active volunteer, a tutor, the editor of her school paper, she took pictures and videos to archive her high school class history, she had a part time job, and still found time to make her family and friends believe they were the most important thing on her calendar. Nicki knew how to explore her passions. If she thought she would enjoy something she went out and did it with no hesitation. If she found herself bored she came up with ways to enhance every moment she had. At such a short time at Virginia Tech she was already planning and organizing and somewhat trying be social director for her group of friends. Although we can all focus on the things that she will never get to do I hope that you will take her spirit in your heart today and let her drive you to live your life with the energy, enthusiasm, and passion she had everyday she was with us. Remember all the things she did do in her life.

I will strive to take each of these and many other lessons that Nicole taught me and honor her by living a life that is fuller and better than my own capabilities because she will be in my heart and helping me along.

I will spend all of the rest of my days trying not to mourn my loss but remembering the gift that was given to me for 18 years.

I will miss you little sister and I love you more than you ever knew.
7:39 pm edt

The Dash read by Jessica James at the funeral
The Dash by Linda Ellis

I read of a man who stood to speak

At the funeral of a friend

He referred to the dates on her tombstone

From the beginning…to the end.

He noted that first came her date of birth

And spoke the following date with tears,

But he said what mattered most of all

Was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time

That she spent alive on earth…

And now only those who loved her

Know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own;

The cars…the house…the cash,

What matters is how we live and love

And how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard…

Are there things you’d like to change?

For you never know how much time is left,

That can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough

To consider what’s true and real,

And always try to understand

The way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger,

And show appreciation more

And love the people in our lives

Like we’ve never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect,

And more often wear a smile.

Remembering that this special dash

Might only last a little while.

So, when your eulogy’s being read

With your life’s actions to rehash…

Would you be proud of the things they say

About how you spent your dash?

7:23 pm edt

Editor’s Notebook by Brian Karem
About Marilyn and Nicole

By Brian J. Karem

If religion is the opiate of the masses, as it has been said, then here in the wonderful United States we’re all numbed addicts.

I say this after attending a viewing for Marilyn Praisner and a viewing and funeral this week for Nicole Lee, the young local woman who was killed in an automobile accident while returning to Virginia Tech from a ski trip in West Virginia.

I heard similar comments at both viewings this week.

“How could God let such a bad thing like this happen to such a good person?”

Father Lee Fangmeyer at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Derwood took that sentiment on in his eulogy for Lee and for once a member of the clergy didn’t let me down.

He said, in point of fact that God had nothing to do with Nicole’s death. Thank you Father Lee for keeping it real.

God had nothing to do with Mrs. Praisner’s death either.

The fact is Mrs. Praisner died because of a heart problem and Nicole died because she was in a car accident. Wondering why they passed seems to be to diminish the celebration of their life.

Some of the not-so-Christian views expressed by so-called Christians in the wake of both deaths puts a chill into me and makes me wonder if we could do with a little less religion and a little more true Christian feeling.

“If this is God’s plan, then I don’t believe in God,” one person angrily said during Nicole’s services.

I know these sentiments came from pain, but I think they also cause pain.

Let’s be honest, it’s hard to fathom what a 66-year-old accomplished politician and public figure had in common with a relatively unknown but very spunky and bright college freshman, but you’d be surprised.

At the very least they both had a lot of people who loved and cared for them who are angry and sad at their passing.

I am too. Marilyn Praisner was always a joy to speak with on the telephone, always took as much time as I needed to explain the most arcane elements of county policy and genuinely took pleasure in helping other people.

I once told her of a cousin of mine who said, “Success isn’t measured by how much wealth you have, but by how much you help other people.”

In that respect Marilyn Praisner was probably one of the most successful people I’ve ever run across.

But, then again, so was Nicole Lee.

This young woman was helpful to everyone who knew her. She was a great source of inspiration and help to all her friends – as they said at her funeral. She seemed a boundless source of energy who said of herself, that she had found her “inner nerd” in college while studying math.

Who knows what great things Nicole Lee might have accomplished in her life?

I think she would’ve done her parents, friends and neighbors more than proud, and as I watched the dignitaries file into the viewing for Marilyn Praisner, I couldn’t help but think that too could’ve been for Nicole.

She had that potential.

Marilyn Praisner reached it.

The shame of course is that we’ll never know what Nicole could’ve done.

It made me appreciate Marilyn’s accomplishments that much more this week as everyone around the county weighed-in on her career.

But it also made me sad thinking of what we had lost at such an early age.

Even with those thoughts, though, I can’t go down the dark alley some of us seem to want to visit.

Questioning God over a traffic accident or heart failure is the height of hubris, folly and stupidity. The temerity of such actions is astonishing, laughable and sad.

The events that unfolded which led to the deaths of both women can be questioned by the rest of us, but never fully understood.

Ascribing their fate to an act of God shows just how little we know of God.

So, fewer opiates please, and a bit more reality if we dare. Goodbye Nicole. Goobye Marilyn. We’ll miss you both.

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7:18 pm edt

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Written by Kaitlyn Morgan Powell and read at the funeral
I’d like everyone to take a look around. I am amazed standing in front of you how many people Nicole touched during her lifetime. But to be honest, I’m not really surprised in the least.

Nicole was such an extraordinary person and the best friend anyone could ask for.

Nicole’s loyalty was undeniable. One weekend she came to visit me at UVA. Even though Tech and UVA are major rivals she still came to our football game decked out in a UVA jersey and face paint and cheered loudly by my side.

Nicole had unlimited energy. She was always ready for an adventure or road trip. This past summer we drove to the beach with some friends and got completely lost. But instead of freaking out, Nicole just looked at it as an opportunity to play more music and enjoy time with her friends. She always looked on the bright side and her contagious laugh, complete with nostril flaring, and positive outlook made whatever we were doing a blast.

Nicole was truly one of a kind. I don’t know anyone else who went to six proms in high school. Or had three surprise birthday parties thrown for her in one day. No one will ever be able to match her love for pretzel wraps or her crazy poker skills- I know she robbed me every time. I’d be hard pressed to find anyone who has built the entire Great Wall of China or held her own against a field of guys in Ultimate Frisbee.

It’s hard to imagine life without Nicole since she was such a tremendous presence in our lives. The beach vacation we had planned, the summer adventures we looked forward to, the weddings, families and reunions that were to come will be difficult to bear without her smiling face. But one thing about Nicole is she would never pass up a chance to spend time with her friends and family and she will definitely be with us during every event.

Nicole was a daughter, a sister, a niece, an aunt, a friend, a role model, a teammate, a Cheeburger waitress, a tutor, and a math whiz. And just like the never-ending asymptotes that Nicole knew like the back of her hand, she will go on forever in our hearts.

2:47 am est

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Thank you… From Sandy Myers (Nicole’s Big Sister) read at the funeral
Thank you for the, “yes,” your smile always gave me When we met.

Thank you for telling me it was the little things in life like my phone calls that kept you going.

Thank you for listening to my sorrows and then giving me Encouragement when I needed it.

Thank you for seeing the pain behind my smile and giving me Comfort.

Thank you for the admiration and respect you gave me.

Thank you for loving me for who I am, and not expecting More or less from me.

Thank you for the many hours you gave me sitting in your Garden. Time is precious.

Thank you for your humor and how you kept me laughing.

Thank you for the grace and elegance you added to our every meeting.

Thank you for the high standards and integrity you demanded from yourself and those around you.

Thank you for seeing the best in me and not letting me forget it.

Thank you for the stubborn independence and self reliance that kept you Strong and led the way for me.

Thank you for your love of beauty, both the inward and the outward, and how your sharp eye sharpened mine.

Thank you for believing in me and wanting me here, with you.

Thank you for loving me and telling me so.

Thank you for choosing me as friend, sister, family.

Christine McAuliffe

12:23 am est

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Remembering Nicole – Uncle Kevin
Nicole was a beautiful person and I loved her very much. I will always remember her energy, her smile, her laughter, her enthusiasm and the way her presence brought warmth and love to every occasion and family get together.

Just before Christmas, my sister Lynn and my wife were both in the hospital and I was visiting them. Nicole was home from school and working at a restaurant across the street. Something inside me said “wow what a great opportunity”, I can visit with everyone tonight,`I should go and see Nicole. I can’t wait to see how her brand new college career is coming. I can hear about what she is doing and planning for the future. This time in her life must have been so exciting, and I know Nicole must have all kinds of big plans, ideas, and enthusiasm for her future.

I went across the street and sat in her section. She was not too busy, so she sat down at the table with me and we were able to talk about family, school, jobs, skiing, and just life. This now makes me realize that every second in life is precious, and I am grateful for every second that I spent with my niece.

Like ususal, she was excited about everything and full of life. I left that place so happy, smiling, and thinking to myself what a bright, genuine, loving person Nicole has become…She’s gonna do great things. That was the last time I really got to talk to my Goddaughter. The world has lost one of the nicest, most sincere, people I have ever known. She showed us all how to be a better person.

I know that Heaven is a much better place with Nicole there now. God must have seen Nicole grow up and needed her. She will always be with me in my heart. I love you and will miss you Nicole.