The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, March 18, 1998, Page 5, Image 5

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    Courtesy of Shannon Heffelfinger
GAMMA PHI BETA Sorority sisters (from left) Melanie Rogge, Laura Cockson and Shannon Heffelfinger smile for a photo taken in October
1997. Cockson, a UNL junior, died Saturday after the car in which she was a passenger was struck by a vehicle operated by a man now
charged with drunken driving.
I will remember you
Death may take the friend, but not the friendship
is a sophomore news-editorial
major and a Daily Nebraskan
senior sports reporter.
I hold a picture in my head of my
good friend Laura, one of the most beauti
ful women I’ve ever known. She’s sitting
on the floor of our bedroom, her legs
crossed. A curling iron sits in her hand as
she brushes her light brown hair. It’s
shiny, and when the light catches it just
right, it almost looks blonde. Her blue
eyes sparkle.
They are the bluest eyes I’ve ever
She knows her parents and two sisters
Sarah and Erin will arrive any minute,
and she’s trying to hurry. But she knows
her efforts are fruitless.
“If I have an hour to get ready, I’ll take
the full hour,” Laura said Saturday morn
ing. “And if I have 20 minutes to get
ready, I’ll still take an hour.”
sne said mat every mommg. Laura
was never on time. It was our biggest con
flict, if you call it that. Laura was carefree
and laid back. She got there when she got
there. I’m always anxious and usually five
minutes early.
I laughed on Saturday when she
jumped up and rushed into the bathroom.
I didn’t know it was the last time I’d
laugh with her.
I didn't know the only thing
Laura Cockson would ever be early
for was her death.
A drunken driver slammed mto
Sarah’s car late Saturday night. He
killed Laura and sent her two sisters
to the hospital in critical condition.
Laura’s mom said it wasn’t fair. She
wondered how it could happen to
someone as “perfect” as Laura. I
sat and watched the scene at the hospital
early Sunday morning, and I wondered
the same thing.
I hope all the people who knew Laura
realize what a privilege they had. Laura
loved life. She had big ideas, and she
saw almost all of them through. She was
intelligent, graceful and classy.
She made me laugh. She planned to
study occupational therapy but she
sometimes joked about becoming a travel
agent. She spent hours booking flights
and hotel rooms, searching for the best
deal for our spring-break trip scheduled
for next week.
We were going to California. Laura
picked Los Angeles after much debate
because she wanted to be an audience
member on “The Price is Right.” With our
friends Brenda and Melanie we planned
the best way to “be the next contestants on
‘The Price is Right.’”
It’s ironic that Laura could make me
laugh like few others. I never cried more
than once or twice in front of her. But
from the time Brenda and I ran into the
emergency room and leameckhe fate of
our friend, I have cried with a hurt I never
before felt.
Monday night, I left Gamma Phi Beta
Sorority with four of my closest friends -
four of Laura’s closest friends - and we
just drove. We drove all around Lincoln
for an hour. We talked, and we remem
bered Laura. We laughed about funny
things that Laura did. We went to a restau
rant and ordered fattening food, because
as Becky said, “Laura would have wanted
it that way.”
It felt
good to
laugh. But in the middle of the laughter, I
suddenly realized one thing. I never said
goodbye to Laura.
One week before she died, I sat in my
room with Laura and Brenda. It was a
Saturday night. We had planned to go out,
but a snowstorm kept us inside. We sat
and talked. At the time, I was a little
bored. But I’m so thankful that, for some
reason, we stayed home.
Ironically, we talked about death. We
wondered what happens when you die.
Can you see everyone? Do you know
what they’re feeling? Are you angry for
their suffering?
Laura said that when she died, she
wanted to come back and tell everyone
what it was like. She never planned to lose
her life to an out-of-control driver one
week later. But then again, maybe that
conversation wasn’t such a coincidence.
Melanie said maybe this had been
planned for a long time. And thinking
back, it almost seems like it was. It seems
like someone was preparing Laura and
the ones she loved. In the last few weeks,
she spent extra time with some of her
close high school friends. She was closer
to Jim, her
boyfriend of eight months, than ever
She suggested to her mom that then
entire family come to Gamma Phi’s
Mom’s Weekend, including her dad and
youngest sister, Erin, a high school sopho
Is that what it means to say goodbye
to your family, your boyfriend, your
If I could have five minutes with
Laura, I know exactly what I would say. I
would tell her how beautiful I think she is
and how I’m sorry that I never noticed her
eyes sparkle. I would tell her how I can
still hear her laughing and see her pretty
smile. I would tell her how I miss coming
home after class, opening the door, and
seeing her mess all over the floor. I would
tell her how I loved talking to her about
our “old-guy” boyfriends.
I would tell her how I can’t hardly
stand to walk into my room now. How it
seems so empty even though all of her
things are still there. How I can't sit on
her bed and put my makeup on in the
morning like I used to. How Janet, our
roommate, and I haven’t slept in our beds
since rnaay nigni.
" ' - • •- And I would tell her
the lesson I learned in
the past three days. I
would tell her nothing is
more valuable than a
friend, and nothing is as
priceless as a friend like
^ Laura. It can’t erase the
memories of her radiant
smile and vibrant personali
ty that live in my heart. It can’t erase
that picture in my mind of Laura sit
ting on the floor in our room.
So Laura, as hundreds of your
family members and friends
attend your funeral
today, I want to take
this chance to say good
bye, however imperson
al it may seem. And I
want you to know that
even though I’m saying
=^rv-' goodbye, I will never for
get you, because even
death can’t end a life
Melanie Falk/DN like yours.