Five years ago today a very dear friend of mine lost her six year battle with cancer. She died two days after I gave birth to my second daughter. I remember how I sat in my hospital bed, holding my newborn baby and crying when I heard the news.

Nicole found out she had cancer while she was pregnant with her second child. She delivered her daughter and started chemo and radiation immediately. When she passed away her daughter was six and her son was eight.

I cry for their loss because she was such a fabulous mom and such an amazing person. Her husband Paul said during her eulogy that Nicole felt she wasn't really good at any one thing in particular. Paul told her "everyone loves you, that's what you're good at." He really nailed it.

Everyone who met Nicole loved her. She had a warmth and energy that drew people to her. When she was in the hospital it was difficult to get to her bedside because all the nurses would gather in her room to chat with her. When she was sick her mother would have to screen phone calls because she had so many friends and too much chatting on the phone sucked her energy.

I can't put into words how special she was, but she truly had a gift. Her gift was that she genuinely cared about other people and wanted the best for everyone. She wanted to make other people happy. Even in her last months, she didn't want anyone to feel bad because she was sick. She felt that even though she was dying, that she had a great life because she was surrounded by so many friends, her beautiful children and a loving husband.

When I look back on junior high school, high school, college and my twenties, Nicole was always a huge part of the fun. She was so funny and game for anything. When I look at pictures of us, or read letters and notes we wrote I laugh out loud.

Tomorrow I will call her mother and sisters, it makes us all feel a little better to hear each other's voices and laugh and cry together.

Nicole used to laugh at the phrase "God only gives us what we can handle." She said she wish he didn't have so much faith in her!

The last trip Nicole ever took was 2 months before she died. She and her husband traveled to the Vatican to meet with Pope John Paul II. Her mother gave me a picture of her touching his hand, and the look on her face gives me peace.

I miss Nicole everyday, but I feel lucky that I knew her. In her 39 short years on this earth she made this world a better place and she is greatly missed.

After Nicole's death her husband Paul started
The Great Guy Group, a non-profit organization dedicated to delivering financial assistance to families battling cancer as well as contributing to The Hope Lodge of the American Cancer Society. If you would like to donate to this great cause, or to learn more, please click on the above links.