PLACENTIA, Calif. – The pictures on display behind the row of candles show a glowing, smiling woman. In one, she is jumping in the air wearing cowboy boots, her hair flying behind her.
That is how friends and family recalled 38-year-old Nicol Kimura at a vigil on Sunday evening, a week after she and 57 others were killed in the Las Vegas concert massacre.
Carrying cream-colored candles, at least 200 people gathered outside an elementary school that Kimura attended when she was a child in the community of Placentia.
They smiled at the shining photos of Kimura and shared stories of trips to baseball games and shopping sprees. And they sobbed recalling the senseless loss of the fun-loving, affectionate woman known as an “auntie” to her friends’ children and for her generous heart and free spirit.
“She touched so many lives and obviously made a huge impact on each one of us, whether you knew her a day or 30 years,” said Courtney Calderon, Kimura’s friend since the fourth grade. “Her heart was huge. And everyone that met her knew it.”
Kimura, who worked at a California tax agency, had gone to the Route 91 Harvest country music festival in Last Vegas with a group of friends so close they called themselves “framily.”
They had looked forward to the weekend and were standing by the stage listening to the music when a gunman began firing on the crowd from the 32nd floor of the hotel across the street.
Kimura was among those killed in the onslaught. Nearly 500 were wounded in the crowd of 22,000 people.
Now, her friends are trying to mourn the loss of Kimura and cope with memories of the horror of that night. They remembered her as the craftsy one who made all their events sparkle and brought them closer together.
“She never turned the awesome off,” one friend wrote in comments read at the vigil by Pastor Kent Kraning.
Kimura — who loved hiking and her dog, Sadie — is survived by her parents and a sister, as well as her friends.
Uncle Roger Kimura recalled how she made a spreadsheet listing the vitamins her father had to take after he underwent double bypass surgery — a testament to her penchant for precision —and how she showed concern for others. He asked the group “that in honor of Nicol, you live each and every day to the fullest — just like she did.”
Calderon, who attended high school and college with Kimura, shared stories about her friend’s passion for art and for fashion and how she lit up the room whenever she walked in. Calderon’s three children adored Nicol and she made an impact on everyone who knew her.
“Until we meet again, I love you,” Calderon said. “I know when I get up there, you’re going to look amazing — your hair is perfect, your outfit is perfect, and you will be there waiting with open arms to give me a hug.”
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