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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 

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Music - Time and Time Again by The Counting Crows