Saturday, March 03, 2007

Google Me Gently
Part 3: An Appeal

From a Bedford, Indiana newspaper:

Phillips - Nicole Christene Phillips of Louisville, KY, formerly of Jeffersonville, IN, died Wednesday, October 9, 2002, at University Hospital in Louisville from injuries sustained in an auto accident. Born on April 12, 1971, she was the daughter of Thomas and Jill D. (Wagner) Phillips.

Surviving are her parents, Thomas and Jill Phillips of Jeffersonville, IN; paternal grandmother, Burnettia Denny of Bedford, IN; maternal grandmother, Vera Wagner of Bedford, IN; several aunts, uncles, and cousins. She was preceded in death by her grandfathers.

She was a public defender in Clark County, IN, and a graduate of Indiana University and University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law. She was a member of the American Bar Association and was active in animal rights organizations.

Services for Nicole Phillips will be at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, October 12th, at North Chapel of Scott Funeral Home in Jeffersonville, IN. Burial will follow in Walnut Ridge Cemetery in Jeffersonville. Friends may call from 2-8 p.m. Friday at North Chapel of Scott Funeral Home in Jeffersonville. The family asks that friends consider memorial contributions be made to the Humane Society.

Oh. My. God.

That is NOT what I wanted to find. My only hope- and this is grasping at straws- is that this Nicole Christene Phillips, born in ‘71, from Indiana, was not the same person I had known. Maybe the People Search had crossed the records of two women with the same name and age. It could happen.

About all I can come up with to support this theory is that the Nikki Phillips I knew didn’t seem like someone who would grow up to be a lawyer. She wasn’t a brilliant student; she was a neo-hippie chick into partying on the weekends. I could see her dropping out to tour with the Dead before I could see her going to law school.

Of course, there’s nothing to say she couldn’t drop out to tour with the Dead, then get her shit together and go to law school. I’m sure it happens all the time. She was sixteen years old the last time I saw her. She could have gone on to become anything.

I don’t want to believe this is her, but I’m really afraid it is. Maybe part of what I saw in her - the light which drew me to her in the first place- was this spark of what she was to become. A public defender into animal rights. A person who did good, who contributed, who helped people (and animals.)

Probably the only way to 100% confirm that Nikki Phillips (who graduated from Glenwood High School in Chatham, Illinois in 1989) and Nicole Christene Phillips (who died in Louisville, Kentucky in 2002) are the same person is by shelling out the $40 for the background check. My peace of mind is worth at least that much, but I can’t really justify spending my family’s money (hard earned by my wife) on something which may or may not tell me something I really don’t NEED to know.

Plus, maybe I’m afraid to know for sure. At least now I have some slim hope that she’s still out there, alive. I wouldn’t even know how to go about grieving for her if I knew she was dead. It’s a strange situation. I never really knew her, but I did love her. The fact that my love was never requited or consummated makes little difference. She impacted my life in a huge way. A lot of who I am as a person, as a writer, and as a husband, has to do with the lingering effect she had on me.

So, here’s the appeal. If anybody who reads this (maybe you arrived here by Googling my name, or hers, or Glenwood High School, or Chatham, Illinois) has ANY information, please post a comment.

Or if anybody reading this has any suggestions on how to research this further (without spending money,) let me know that too. (The only further information I found was from the Mormon-run Genealogy web-site which, surprisingly, supplied me with NCP’s Social Security Number.) I’m not the most net-savvy person in the world, and I’ve simply run out of ideas for places to look. Maybe there’s something at the library that I could look up the old-fashioned way, I don’t know.

Or, if you read this and think “God, dude, give it up. She’s dead, all right? Why do you even care? She wasn’t your girlfriend. You’re married now, with two great kids, so just let go of a past which you never even had in the first place,” maybe I need to hear that, too.


Michael Smith said...

Hi Chris-
I'm stuck at the Oklahoma City Airport (Will Rogers International), and had a few minutes, so I decided to offer a suggestion. I've made contact with a whole slew of people I knew in high school (for good and ill) via MySpace. I don't know if you've tried this, but every profile lists some sort of school affiliation. If you've already tried this, or it doesn't work, most counties allow access to public records online. All you have to do is find that county's website. (The Kitsap County, WA one has my Marriage, Divorce, Marriage, and Lien). Good Luck.
Your employed and transient brother,

Anonymous said...

This is Nikki's father, Tom. Sadly the obit is for Nikki. The accident was 5 years ago yesterday.
Best regards,

Anonymous said...


I'm ashamed to admit that it's taken me awhile to write you after reading this wonderful blog about Nikki Phillips. I think I've been thinking that some magical words would just appear to tell you how profoundly your words have moved so many of us who struggle daily with the loss of Nikki....but most importantly her Mom & Dad. But, alas, I've decided to just start writing to you - and let Nikki's own magic speak for itself.

My name is Jodee Spalding - formerly Jodee Fields. I'm not sure if you remember me from Glenwood High School, but Nikki and I were very very dear friends then & up to her devastatingly untimely death in 2002.

Throughout your piece you doubt your own knowledge or insight as to who Nikki "really" was --- or if you had simply built her up in your mind as some sort of untouchable fantasy. I want -- maybe even need -- you to know that the Nikki you think/thought you knew is the real Nikki. She was as beautiful, bright, witty, compassionate, vivacious, imaginative, compelling, and utterly unique as your mind remembers. And that's not grief talking....that's simply the only fitting description imaginable for Nicole Phillips.

She broke every possible mold; so much that I still think to myself in different situations..." what would my Nikki do or think right now?" ...not so much to mimic her, but rather to try and keep her natural flair for color and eccentricity alive in my daily life.

Her friendship transformed my adolescence from what could have been merely an awkward, confusing, semi-entertaining stagger into young adulthood -- into a highly colorful, unforgettable, confident march into the person I am now. I truly couldn't have hoped for a better friend or cohort. Not in my wildest imaginings.

That being said, I want to thank you for your words & for keeping Nikki alive in your mind and heart like you have since High School.....that is exactly what it felt like to Nikki's Mom & Dad when they discovered your blog, and then passed it along to was as if Nikki had been alive & well with us all along. (And maybe that is just how we should be thinking of her).

In reading your piece, I know you always wished that you had had a larger impact on Nikki's world....and I wanted to take a minute to congratulate you ....because now you have. in the best possible way.

Talking about and remembering Nikki is nothing short of a pleasure for that I don't get to indulge as much anymore -- mainly because it always feels as if I've told those stories already. I've spent years painting a thorough mind-portrait of her for my husband (who sadly never got to meet her). And I'm pretty sure I've even made semi-strangers sit down & listen to my nostalgic spiel. Needless to say, I’m dieing for a new platform from which to gush about Nikki!

so PLEASE if you want to know more, do not hesitate to write me back and ask. You would actually be doing me a wonderful favor ;-).

All the best,
Jodee (Fields) Spalding

Lazarusty said...

Christian, your story has touched me in an indefinable way - I can't put a finger on it myself, just that having hardly felt anything in years, I have felt something in my spirit over this story.

I found your blog after googling "Nikki Phillips" the NZ model; I know the world famous in NZ Nikki - she used to do theatresports in Christchurch - and so have been following her career a bit. She's just done "The Face of 30 Days" in Australia.

Let me say this - the Nikki Phillips I know made me feel so alive soon after I saw her - so pretty she was my heart leapt like crazy and I was floating for about three weeks - although I hardly knew her. And her voice - OMG - it made me melt. This was in 1999 and it was obvious then she could be destined to be a model.

If she'd been in my school, I'd have had a big crush on her too, for sure. Maybe I still do but anyway...

My point is, if the Nikki I know died young, before her time, I would feel terrible loss. It seems tragic that someone who makes you feel that way should die apparently before her time.

Anway Christian, I see you haven't written another blog in over a year. Why is this?

Also, I'm curious as to exactly how your Nikki looked. Do you or Jodee or Tom or anyone have a photo or two they could upload please?

I'm possibly thinking of writing an article about the sadness of people who have had a positive affect on others cut off in their prime. I'm a writer too.

Anonymous said...


I came across this blog when I googled my own name hoping to find some old high school photos.

I hope that one day I am remembered the way this Nikki Phillips is.

Nikki Phillips (not the model)
The Writer
New Zealand

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Anonymous said...

It sounds like you're creating problems yourself by trying to solve this issue instead of looking at why their is a problem in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Chrisitan? You still there? You haven't written in your blog since 2007. Is anything wrong?

Rusty Writer said...

Please Christian, could you respond to these comments. You suddenly stopped writing in your blog after March 2007 with the Nikki Phillips story which really touched my heart. Are you still alive? I want to know that you're OK.

Russell Gray said...

There's a script and/or story in this, I know there is!