On Saturday evening, my friend Nicki was thrown from her motorcycle after a freak encounter with a bird. She died on Sunday, after giving the gift of life and healing to countless people as an organ donor. She never wore a helmet, and fully understood the implications of that choice.
She was 32.
She leaves behind a husband and son that loved her very much. It was obvious how much she loved them, too. Her workstation at the hospital was covered with pictures of her family, including a calendar made special with her son's face.
Nicki was one of the most vibrant people I have ever known. She lived every moment of her life to it's fullest. She was perpetually smiling and laughing. Her laugh was amazing. Full throated, head thrown back, total abandon. She loved to party, hang out with her friends and family, and most of all? Ride her motorcycle. She loved that bike. She worked two jobs to get it, and she rode it whenever she could. She dreamt of Harley Davidson tattoos...hell, she even married a man named Harley.
It gives me some comfort to know she left this life doing something she loved, riding down the road with someone she loved. Live fast...die young...and leave a good-looking corpse.
I will always miss her. But even though I'm crying today, I know that in the future when this grief has dulled....I'll think of Nicki, and I'll smile.
RIP Nicki. We all love you.