FOR NEARLY HALF her life, Nicole Brown Simpson was known as O.J. Simpson's girlfriend, his wife, and then his ex-wife.
But in her last days, after she had broken off efforts to get back together with O.J. Simpson, she had been struggling to be Nicole Brown.
Hours before she was killed, Nicole Simpson and her family - her two children, her parents, and two of her sisters - were celebrating her freedom at Mezzaluna, one of her favorite neighborhood restaurants.
"She was just so vivacious, so full of life," her older sister, Denise Brown, said in a telephone interview Wednesday. "She had just gotten it all together, and it was so exciting. I was so happy for …