To Read on the Journey

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Wind Beneath My Wings

"Did you ever know that your my hero, your everything I wish I could be, and I can fly higher than an eagle, you are the wind beneath my wings."

I sang this song too many times in high school. Did you have a person to dedicate this song to? I did, Nicole Fortner (a.k.a. "Kokko").

Nicole was in my class growing up. She had curly auburn hair, freckles, and a personality and confidence like no other. What I admired most about Nicole was that she was friends with everyone. Nicole was friends with the popular people, the geeks, the partiers, the Jesus freaks, the athletes, cheerleader, brains... and she was friends with me.

Here are a few favorite memories of Nicole-

In Jr. High she felt she needed a new out fit, she discussed this with her mom (who worked at a local clothing outlet store), her mom (Amy) told her she had plenty of clothes, enough to make a different outfit everyday for a month. Everyday for 30 days I looked to see what Amy had put together for Nicole.

In high school Nicole had acrylic nails. Her mom was a manicurist. I can hear Nicole's nails "clackity clakity clackity," and see them in all their festiveness, appropriately decked out for holiday, school spirit, or prom.

I remember one halloween party when she came dressed up as Cherry 7 UP. She had a Cherry 7 Up can around her body with pink balloons fizzing out the top.

I smile at the memory of us in Capitola, Sunset beach, and at Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

I recall Oakdale's Jr. Miss. I had always wanted to be in it, but was so afraid. Nicole agreed we would do it together. She did an unforgettable monologue of "The Letter" by Amy Grant.
She won runner up. I won Spirit and Presence & Composure (which was a shock).

I think on when we painted our legs for school rallies, she was the best!

I giggle at houses and getting caught by a very nice cop at 3:00 a.m. My red 65 Ford Falcon wasn't a great get away car.

I recall my broken heart after a break up, and Nicole comforting me by doing donuts in her car in an empty parking lot. My tears turning to laughter.

I think of her heart for God's best, and once when she just wanted to drive. She talked, "I love Jesus, I do... but the things I want to do, I don't do, and what I don't want to do I do."

I remember her rescuing me from the chaos at my house, safe at hers.

She brought me out into life.

I was a bit on the intimidated/shy side before Nicole. Wanting to LIVE, but afraid too. Nicole became a Christian freshman year, I did that summer (but was still very unsure). Nicole invited me countless times to Campus Life and to church. Midway through our sophomore year I agreed to join her at Campus Life, and finally after countless invitations I joined her at church our senior year. At Campus Life and Oakdale Church of the Nazarene I formed relationships that have had a lasting impression on my life. Nicole was Jesus tangible, and shared Jesus to so many. Her own parents and siblings came to Christ because of her. I would not be who I am in Christ today without her presence in my life.

And I remember her standing outside my apartment one fall day in 93, I looked at her and said,"Nicole you are so beautiful," she looked at me, smiled, and said "I love you, " I replied, "I love you." And she drove off.

A few days later on Nov. 20th 1993 she was gone. She made a bad choice, a childish 19 yr old choice. She drank and drove. She drove her little car into a telephone pole, and her life here was over.

15 years later I remember. 15 years later I miss her and wonder. 15 years later I am grateful that God gave her to me- to move and grow me, to bring me out into life, to encourage me to spread my scared but wanting wings and fly.


Jenny Stueve said...

That was so beautiful. What a wonderful tribute to such a wonderful friend! I miss her, too and think of her often!

rick said...

you bring tears to my eyes, she was a beautiful friend.

Brenda Kiely (Jones) said...

Denise, you are a true example of the joy God's love brings. Nicole had a place in all of our hearts. I have many fond memories of church events with you and her, and I cherish my memories of Jr. Miss with all of you. Thank you for reminding us of this date and sharing your life.

Kristen said...

What a beautiful tribute to your friend!

JT's Thinking Too Much said...

I must admit I shed a tear. We all appreciate you remembering KoKo for us. Jason Travis

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your kind words remembering our friend. I have so many silly memories of her. She was very special and I hope that her family was sent a copy of your blog. I am sure that they would appreciate it. You have a beautiful family. Love-Caryn Cummins(Bochmann)

Jennifer Partin said...

I am so sorry to hear about your friend but am grateful that the Lord used her in your life.

Thanks for sharing about Nicole---we never realize how we might effect others, do we?

Denise said...

thank you for all your comments.
it has been fun to see comments from high school classmates. to miss nicole (koko)together.

Anonymous said...

Denise--I really appreciate you reminding me when I didn't like my name of my nickname of your high school friend Nicole! Nicole means "victorious one" and I think in some way your Nicole was a victorious one she lead you and her family to know Jesus, I think she conquered Gods mision for her mission in life !!

Jennifer said...

What a happy and sad memory... I'm glad you shared it. I his line of work, my husband has seen many young people do stupid things and their lives are changed in a moment... I pray often that God would spare my children from their own immaturity.

And yet, don't we also pray that they will be beautiful lights for others, lovely moments in someone else's life? Surely, God is sovereign, and He has our every moment planned in advance. She lived a full life. I'm thankful tonight for her, too.