HOLLAND, Mich. — One day shy of what would've been her 18th birthday, family and friends came together on Saturday to remember Nichole Naber who was killed in a crash last weekend.
The Hamilton High School student was one of two killed in the early Friday morning crash. To honor her life, a birthday party was held along with a memorial service.
Nickie Naber's family says she was a bright light and nothing shined as bright as she did. After sharing stories about "Nickie," they played an audio recording of her from her final senior project.
Her family was presented with her diploma by her superintendent at the beginning of the ceremony.
"Nickie isn't a 'was', Nickie 'wasn't', Nickie is," said Carrie Naber, the teen girl's mother.
Naber's family and friends shared their favorite memories as they now work to adjust to the new normal without her.
"Whenever it rains, look for rainbows," her mother said. "Whenever it's dark, look for stars."
Sharing a final message from a senior project of the girl with colorful hair, but a more colorful spirit. The students were to write an essay about who they thought they were, who they were going to be and how they thought they were going to change the world.
"I'm 17 years old and I'll be turning 18 in June," Nickie Naber said in her senior project. "I haven't even begun to live my life. I'm not going to plan the rest of my life or set goals or any of the other stuff that students my age do. I just want to explore and learn and try to survive."
Nickie's mother placed her ashes in the backyard, before planting a tree on top of them in her memory.
"Nickie was a bright light," she said. "One of the brightest I ever had the pleasure of seeing. I look around and in each and every one of you I see a spark that Nickie lit."
Carrie Naber says her one regret is not telling her daughter more often how proud she was of her. Carrie doesn't want people to feel sorry for her, instead she feels sorry more people couldn't spend time with Nickie.
A memorial scholarship has been created in memory of Nickie and her desire to become an EMT. Contributions can be made to Nickie Naber First-Responder Scholarship Fund, C/O Parda Credit Union, 259 E. 24th St., Holland 49423.
According to police, speed was a factor, but they remain unsure if alcohol or drugs played a role. The crash remains under investigation.