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.
7:48 pm edt
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
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.
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.
By Jennifer Pearce (Nicole's Big Sister) read at the funeral
7:39 pm edt
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
Lesson 1 - Have unconditional love
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
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
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.
The Dash read by Jessica James at the funeral
7:23 pm edt
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
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.
we treat each other with respect,
And more often wear a smile.
Remembering that this special dash
Might only last a little while.
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?
Editor's Notebook by Brian Karem
7:18 pm edt
About Marilyn and
If religion is the opiate of the masses, as it has been said, then here in the wonderful United States we're all
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
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?"
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.
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
In that respect Marilyn Praisner was probably one of the most successful people I've ever run across.
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.
had that potential.
Marilyn Praisner reached it.
The shame of course is that we'll never know what Nicole could've done.
made me appreciate Marilyn's accomplishments that much more this week as everyone around the county weighed-in on her
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.
that unfolded which led to the deaths of both women can be questioned by the rest of us, but never fully understood.
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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