HARLINGEN — He was funny. He was smart, opinionated, spontaneous, friendly.
That’s what friends of Nick Peters remembered yesterday after learning the 17-year-old Harlingen High School student had died.
“He was in an inflatable blueberry,” said Dallas Herring, 17, who recalled Nick wearing that costume. “It was for a media tech project. He was running down the halls.”
Dallas, a senior at HHS, lived down the street from Nick. He died early Monday in Houston after a seven-year battle with leukemia.
You didn’t have to live down the street from Nick to know him, to admire him, to believe in him. Even if you never met him, somehow his presence in the lives of others could impact you.
Perhaps it was his passion for life that caused him to be so widely known even among strangers. And perhaps that’s why so many wore yellow shirts yesterday which read “No One Fights Alone.”
They’d worn these shirts throughout September for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. However, upon hearing the news Monday of Nick’s death, Principal Imelda Munivez asked students and staff to wear their yellow shirts one more day.
“It’s very sad,” Munivez said. “Our hearts go out to the Peters family. He was only here with us for a short time, but he made a lot of friends and made a connection with several teachers.”
Nick was diagnosed with leukemia at age 10. Many knew him for quite some time before learning he was sick. Hearing the HHS Student Council talk about him yesterday, he seemed to be one of those bigger-than-life individuals.
They’re the ones who demonstrate how animated, inventive and vibrant this life can be. They take this life and give it a poignant rendition, leaving behind a passionate remembrance.
“We had the cinnamon challenge,” said Norman Torres, recalling their middle school days.
“He had brought cinnamon to school,” said Norman, 17. “He was going to do it.”
Norman tried to convince Nick not to take the “challenge” but there was no dissuading him.
“He put a big spoonful of cinnamon in his mouth,” Norman said, shaking his head with amusement and disbelief.
Of course Norman, who survived a cancer scare of his own earlier this year, understood why Nick dove into so many activities.
“He wanted to do whatever he could to live every day to the fullest,” Norman said.
Nick was also an aspiring businessman.
“He made apps for the Apps Store,” said Crystal Lucio, 17.
“He had partnerships with corporations,” Norman added. “He would team up with people to create apps. They were mainly different emojis.”
“He mentioned he wanted to be an entrepreneur,” Dallas added.
Entrepreneur he was. Norman said Nick had already made a significant amount of money from his apps.
They also remembered his heated involvement in classroom activities, his strong opinions and his ardent defense of them.
“I had English class with him,” Crystal said. “He was really loud.”
Wasn’t that the truth.
“He was really out there,” said Xitlali Cortes, 17. “I would be looking back and he was really being loud. He had an opinion about everything.”
It wasn’t in an overbearing sense that she said this. They were having class discussions and people took different positions on issues.
“Everybody had different opinions about everything,” she said.
“He would put himself out there,” said Rachel Alejandro, 18.
Funeral services have not yet been announced. Munivez and Torres both expressed hope the school could be involved somehow. But how do you hold a funeral for someone who isn’t really dead?