TIME

Nicole Brown Simpson’s Sister: ‘My Heart Still Aches’

Denise Brown, right, and her sister Nicole. Courtesy of Denise Brown

20 years after the arrest, Denise Brown remembers her sister's life and love

Twenty years ago, my sister Nicole was taken from us. Not a day or a moment goes by that our great big boisterous family doesn’t miss her. We have always been a family that laughed so easily and even though we still do, nothing has ever been the same. Time hasn’t made it better—if anything, I miss her more. My heart still aches as if it were the first moment I knew what happened.

For me her birthdate is more important than her death date. Since the day she was born, I was protective of her, and even at age two, I kept the family amused because I stood guard over her baby carriage, not letting anyone get too close to her. My mother often reminded me that we were more like twins than sisters.

With four girls in our family, there was and is always a birthday celebration around the corner. Mama and Daddy always made a big deal about our birthdays. So, if I can have one wish, it would be for everyone not to dwell on her murder, or on the trial-of-the-century, but on her life and on how full of love, laughter, and grace her life was. How thoughtful she was as a sister and friend, how big and generous her heart was. Most of all, to the core of her being, how much she loved her daughter, Sydney, and son, Justin.

The tragedy of my sister’s murder brought a great big spotlight on domestic violence. It was something that my family and I knew nothing about. My education was born of such sorrow and loss, but it gave me the courage to work toward making sure that it didn’t happen to another family.

To this day, so many people continue to give me praise about the work I’ve done since Nicole’s murder. The truth of it all was that I couldn’t stand how the “Dream Team” was portraying Nicole, and at the same time, I also couldn’t stomach the thought of my sister being a victim. I wanted and still want people to really see my sister as a strong, vibrant woman.

It has been an honor and privilege to help raise funds for domestic violence shelters in this country and aroundthe world, change laws and help pass the Violence Against Women Act. All I can truly say is, I did this to honor my sister’s life. I didn’t want her life to be defined by the headlines that others had created.

Nicole is the mother of Sydney and Justin. Sydney and Justin were her heart. She was as much a devoted mother as their joyous playmate.

Nicole is the daughter of Lou and Juditha Brown. She was their golden-haired, headstrong, force-of-nature baby. She was their brilliant and inquisitive girl. She had her daddy’s big brown eyes and her mother’s nose.

Nicole is the sister of Denise, Dominique, Tanya and Rolf. She was the one that always made us laugh till we cried. She would stand her ground and make us all so crazy because more often than not, she was right. She was the best cook out of all of us and was the only one that could copy Oma’s spatzle and goulash perfectly.

Nicole was my little sister and I was supposed to always look after her. Look after your family, love them no matter what.

Nicole, I miss you so, I love you.

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