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Remembering Nikki

Sunday, September 9, 2018

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The recent passing of John McCain from Gliobastoma, an aggressive type of brain cancer, brought back bitter-sweet memories for me. On February 16,1999, one of my dearest friends, Nikki Kouvel Harrison, died from this terrible disease at only 52. She was way too young and way too full of life for that to happen.

Nikki and I met at Bayonne High School. We knew each other and liked each other but didn't hang out with the same crowd. We went to different colleges and reconnected when we started teaching at the Bayonne Board of Education's Title I Summer School Program. I had never seen such an exceptional teacher! We became fast friends sharing our love of teaching and shopping! We socialized with our husbands and were as close as sisters.

Through the years we took different paths. Nikki left teaching and had two wonderful children, Billy and Alexis. I continued my education and went on to administration. We moved to Springfield from Bayonne and Nikki and her family moved there soon after. The friendship was meaningful to us and made us better people.

There was never any drama with Nikki. In all our years as friends, we never had a cross word with each other. She always took the time to listen and to offer advice when asked. She was always honest and absolutely loyal. Being with her simply made me happy.

After she became ill, each Saturday I would go to a nearby deli and bring lunch to the family. Nikki and I would eat by ourselves and share our precious memories. We laughed like crazy!

One night I rented "Thelma and Louise" and went over to watch it with Nikki. In the final scene, Thelma and Louise clasp their hands together over their heads as they fall off a cliff. Nikki and I looked at each other and clasped our hands together. She died a few weeks later.

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