The following tribute was written by Rachel's mother (left, with Rachel).
Our sweet Rachel died January 8, 2009, as a result of a car accident the previous day.
Rachel was the light and joy to her family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and everyone else she came in contact with. She had a smile on her face for anyone and everyone. She was everyone's best friend including her mom, family, friends, cousins, brothers and mostly her sisters.
This was a hard message to write. What could I possibly tell you about my beautiful daughter that would help you to understand the child that she was and the woman that she had become? I was listening to a song recently called "Why." One of the lyrics is, "Why, would you leave the stage in the middle of a song?" That is how I feel about my Rachel.
She left the stage in the middle of a beautiful song. I have come to understand that God knew that I would only have Rachel for 18 years, so He made her extra special. And I honestly mean "extra" special.
She was the best baby, the best child, the most considerate teenager, and never fought with me. Who doesn't fight with their parent as a teenager? My Rachel, that's who.
An example of her beautiful heart was her fifteenth birthday. What she wanted for that day, more than any other present, was to take a girl from her school shopping for school clothes. So, that's what we did. We piled in the car and went to the mall and spent the day shopping for school clothes for all of the kids and Chelsea, the girl down the road who was a year younger than Rachel and didn't have much.
When Rachel died, we had to hold her funeral in the school gymnasium because that's how many lives she had touched. That's how many best friends Rachel had. She was only 18 years old, but worked full-time as a CNA in the dementia unit at the local nursing home and had plans of going on to nursing school like her mother is currently doing.
She was loved by her patients and co-workers alike. I've heard stories from the nursing home of how she would do everything with a smile on her face. I have received letters from patients' families about how Rachel took care of their loved one in the nursing home and was such a bright part of their lives.
The choice to donate Rachel's organs wasn't even really a choice to me. I knew what Rachel would want. She would want to give the gift of life, sight, relief from pain, new skin, new bones and hope to anyone and everyone that she could. That was just Rachel.
My heart aches for my girl who was so much like me that I called her my "mini me." She will always be a part of my heart. I'm grateful that she will be a part of so many other "hearts" in this world. I'm thankful that through her eyes, others can see without pain. Through her organs, others can live for so many more productive years. Through her skin and her bones, life can be extended and pain can be eased. Thank you, God, for the 18 years that you let us have Rachel.