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Words from Friends

The following words are comments, letters, poems, and more given to us from those who knew and loved Nikki. Some writings have been edited for identifying information and length, but they are otherwise kept as they were originally written. If you would like to contribute to this page, please feel welcome to email us or fill out the form to the left with your words in the comment area (you can write more than is visible). Also, please let us know if you want your name identified or not.

From David B.

I suppose I should say this, didnít have the nerve to the day of the funeral. I remember that day in October 1982 Freda was in labor, Andy was so excited because she was going to have a GIRL. A that time this was a big deal to actually know the sex of the baby or at least in Mtn. View it was. I just kept thinking what a cool thing it was to know. Time passed and I finally got to meet Nikki Lee, I wondered why anyone would name a child after a Prince song. She was different, this was a July 4th celebration, and she would come over to me look up and tilt her head to one side. And proceed to climb me like a tree. Freda would embarrass her by saying your going to have to grow up before you can marry him. Her hiding her face in the hollow of my shoulder is one of my fondest memories. I remember Nikki, and I suppose to me she will always be personified in that one tilt of the head that said, your odd, but I like you because of it.

I Remember Nikki, and I Will Always Love Her.

From John C.

I am a friend of Nikki's from Governor's School. The first I heard about any of this was Friday, August 8th, 2003. My friend (and Nikki's) K.K. was visiting me in Fayetteville and at some point she said, "Did you hear about Nikki Atwell?" Something about the way she asked it made me know what she was going to say. She told me what happened and about this website, but I still cannot really believe it. Nikki was one of, if not the most, amazing people I have ever met. I was in the choir with her at Governor's School and was immediately intrigued by her and drawn toward her. She was just so confident and interesting, sooo beautiful, and made me feel better about myself and everything. I'll admit, I had a huge crush on her... The last time I talked to her she was in Mountain View, last summer. I hadn't spoken to her since Governor's School, but one night she was in a dream I had where I was walking along in New York City, saw her walking on the sidewalk, and had to pull her aside and hug her I was so excited to see her. So I called her the next day, and she said it was really surprising that I got ahold of her because she was so busy, but to keep in touch. Just a minute ago I read that she planning on coming to the U of A in Fayetteville, where I go, and that just makes the whole thing that much more tragic knowing that I would have seen my friend again... Well, I just want to say that you raised one of the most outstanding and memorable of people that I have ever had the luck and pleasure to know. I'm so sorry...

From Jackie J.

Ghost of A Butterfly (for Nikki Atwell)

Your translucent wings
glow like
flourescent stars on
crisp winter nights.
You float through windows
on Angels' breath to visit
your loved ones.
You left the imprints of
your wings on your mother's
face and now she
The smell of autumn lured
you through Heaven's Gate
with the spices of earth.
The smell of autunm
transformed you
into a part of the garden.

From Ben S.

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Phillips, Mr. and Mrs. Atwell,
    The news of your daughter's death has come unexpectedly. I can't imagine the loss you must feel. Please accept my sincerest condolences on behalf of my family and myself. Our hearts go out to you and yours. There were no words strong enough to praise your daughter in the time that I knew her, and I have none now that might aid you, save to share in your sadness over the loss of such a talented, generous person as your daughter.
    I met Nikki at Arkansas Governor's School at Hendrix College in the summer of 1999. We shared a political science seminar, as part of the curriculum taught there. I remember your daughter having a fiercely strong intellect and a political idealism to be admired. Our political leanings were similar, and along with K.R., made quite the trio of political pundits. Our discussions ranged from Marxism and socialism all the way across the political spectrum. Your daughter was a staunch debater in these discussions, and we reveled in playing Devil's advocate. This is how I remember your daughter most clearly -- shaking her head and laughing as some argument was taken beyond its logical conclusion.
    After Governor's school, I kept in touch with Nikki, who became a pen pal of mine for a few months. Regretfully, I do not believe I have saved copies of the letters she sent me. I can tell you that she wrote them on recycled maps -- choosing to help the environment even in simple correspondence. Three years is an eternity when your 20, and I cannot remember much of what was said between us. I know that she was there for me in a very sad time in my life (age 17 being a hard one for me), and it grieves me to know that I didn't make an effort to save those letters. It is possible that I have them still somewhere back at my home in Arkansas. If you have found her copies of the letters I wrote to her then I hope my words conveyed the immense esteem I had for your daughter. She was very pretty, and I'm sure like many boys who knew her, I had a crush on her. But friendship is what I shared with Nikki, and I am grateful for the time I knew her.

FROM Russ S.

i got your card in the mail finally. i'm still kind of shocked. i just want you to know that your daughter made more of a difference in my life than any girl that has ever crossed my path, and i will remember her always. i am forever changed for having known her.

From Connie B.

Dear Mrs. Freda,
...I haven't been able to attend a funeral since my cousin died several years ago. I wish I could have been there and yet because I didn't, I can more easily remember Nikki for the beautiful, talented young lady I've always known and admired. I remember in 6th grade being jealous of her artistic talent despite possessing some of my own and in high school I remember standing next to her in choir every day she wasn't practicing for regional competition. The last I heard from Nikki was a Christmas card and invitation to her New Year's party that I was unable to attend because of the weather. I wish I could've gone but I have promised myself that I'll not allow myself to regret anything in my life, but instead cherish the moments I did have, no matter how few. My sympathies and prayers go out to you, but I know that Nikki would want us not to mourn her but instead to remember her for who she was. And what a beautiful person indeed. Thank you.

FROM Sarah B.

I wasn't ever close to Nikki, but I had a lot of respect for her and all that she did. We were in Beta and Fine Arts Club together and I thought she was the greatest girl in the world for always being so unique and true to herself. I'm really sorry for your loss.

From Elizabeth B.

    From the moment the news about Nikki reached me, you (and the rest of the family as well) have been in my thoughts and prayers. While I know it can't possibly match what you are feeling right now, my soul has been torn apart by this tragedy, and whenever I think to write you, I am at a loss as to where to begin. I am not significantly closer to knowing what to say now than I was back in early October.
    Nikki was one of my best friends at Wellesley. She was one of the first people I met here... I have never met anyone else like Nikki. Her musical talent was unmatched. Her poetry was incredible. It seemed to me that she posessed the unusual talent of seeing both the good and the bad in everyone she met. She taught me how to question myself, and the people around me. Most important, she taught me how to love, and how to live with confidence in myself. Nikki, in the short time I knew her, managed to make a profound impact on my life. This sounds cheesier than it is, but I connected with her in a way I have never connected with anyone in my life. And, I loved her .... love her .... with my whole heart.