8.19.2008

Rachael


I have been thinking about today for a few weeks. I was trying to decide how to properly honor the day, and I still have not figured out exactly how to do that. My oldest sister died three years ago today. It is hard to decide how I feel. Even now the words are being typed choppily one at a time.

Three years ago my dad called me and asked me to come home from where I was playing with my friends. He didn’t scream or yell, he just quietly asked me to come home right away. The whole drive home I was talking, crying, and praying out loud. I will never forget the things I said and felt. When I walked in the front door I was expecting pandemonium but it was calm, unusually calm. My dad told me to bring my four younger brothers into the family room and as I rounded them up with the tears rolling down my face they asked me what was wrong. I didn’t know. My dad sat down with us and told us that my oldest sister Rachael was “missing.” At first I thought kidnapped because I knew she was in California celebrating the end of summer term at BYU but I did not know exactly what she was doing there. My brothers were anxious to know more and those old enough to understand joined me in crying. He said she was jumping from rock to rock in the Merced River in Yosemite National Park when she slipped and was pulled under by the current. She went over a small waterfall and didn’t come up. He said that her body could not be found and he did not want to get our hopes up about her lying unconscious on the shore when it was unlikely. I was completely lost. I wandered around my house in a daze. My dad left to California just a few minutes later to join in the search. They found her body about fifteen hours later. She was pinned directly under the waterfall by the force of the water and they would not be able to dislodge her body until the water level went down. They got her body out twenty-two days later.

My grandma said, "Rachael did not die because of her goodness. Rachael lives because of her goodness." A third cousin said, "If there ever was a model of kindness, of selflessness, of sweetness and faith, it's her."

I have so many memories of Rachael. She was such a good person and included everyone in everything she did. I have written down some memories:
- her acrogymnastics routine where she would bow and bow until Bruce came o
ut, threw her over his shoulder, and walked off the stage with her kicking
- playing in the foam pit during her gymnastics practices
- how her hair was everywhere! Especially on the shower walls
- Sonic trips
- how she didn't believe she needed a curfew when she came home from college, and my parents couldn't make her
- how she always told me to call her once I had my first kiss and she
would answer the phone and say, "What's his name?"
- she was always dancing and could make even the dorkiest move look amazing
- I didn't give her a hug the morning before she left for California because I did not want to wake her up (Michelle said this is probably good because Rachael was not a morning perso
n)
- her love for seven layer dip
- how we always teased her that she would drown while trying to swim to the edge of the dive tank (everyone else in my family was on the swim team in high school and she was a diver)
- when she taught me how to play Egyptian Rat Screw in Canada
- when she told me she had her first kiss and I said, "That's okay, as long as it
wasn't Calvin." And then she laughed. Guess who!
- when she got home from a three week vacation to Scotland, I followed her out to the garage and caught her talking to her truck. She had missed it :-)
- her loud, adorable, contagious laugh
- when we found bugs in the broccoli
- showing her my cheerleading dance after auditions and how she taught me to move my shoulders
- dashboard drummin'

- going with her to the Nutcracker and then Bahama Bucks
- Spice Girls, They Might Be Giants, Weird Al, Mariah Carey on cassette tape, Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You"
- riding bikes to Smitty's
- asking for directions to go down the river
- macarena with Seth in the family room
- "And I'm in the Relief S
ociety"
- the crazy guy at Larada's who kept following us around!
- the Christmas when she gave Michelle $20 and Michelle gave her $20
- when I went with Mom to get Rachael's name embossed on her scriptures
and we forgot to ask them to leave room for a married name...
- when we went to see President Hinckley speak at the BYU devotional
- when she called me and said, "Guess what today is?!" I said, "Umm
, your half birthday?" Yep. She knew I liked half birthdays. I got her a package of all mini bathroom stuff. I got it back a month later...
- letting the wind hold us up on the ferry in Canada

Rachael really changed me; the way I look at life and the way I enjoy life.
I love you, Rachael.

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7 comments:

Seth and Brittney said...

This is powerful. What a great way to commemorate her :)

Fiona said...

Thanks for this, Emily. I miss her so bad too. It's fun to use this day to remember the good times, though. And to think how happy we will all be to be reunited with her someday. She was an angel on earth and changed me as well.

Zach "Sunshine" Anderson said...

So touching. I'm so glad I found this blog. I think of Rachael so often. She was my sister, one of my very best friends, and always the first to give me a huge smile. And I'm so glad you put that picture of her on top. That was her prom dress her senior year and I consider myself so fortunate and lucky to have taken her. I love her to death. I also can remember when I heard the news for the first time. My dad wrote me priority overnight and the envelope only had one single page. I remember how hard I cried the first 15 minutes and the sweet comfort the Spirit brought. That changed my testimony of the Plan of Salvation from that day forth. I miss and love Rachael so much and am looking forward to the day that I get to see her again. Thanks for sharing that Em.

Camille Elise said...

Hey Emily! I thought that was a good post! As I was reading your memories I was remembering one of my own I thought I would share. As I was cleaning my room a while ago I came across a letter that I almost tossed out. When I opened it up, I saw it was from Rachael. It was such a good, heart-felt letter. I will probably keep it forever because every time I read it I feel really happy inside. I don't remember what would have prompted her to write it but it was so sweet of her. Anyways, that letter had confirmed what I always thought about her, and that was "I wish such a genuinely sweet & cool person could have been my sister!" :)

Chris and Andrea said...

Emily-

i can't tell you how often I think about Rachael. She was more than a friend, she was my sister. When ever I hung out with Rachael, Michelle, and you I felt like you guys were my sisters! There are so many happy memories that I have of all of us. I remember the day that Michelle called me to share the news with me... I was on my way home and when I answered she spoke so quietly and when she told me that she was missing I almost couldn't hear her. She repeated what she the news and I got the chills and immediately I started of all the things that I wish I could have done differently and all the things that she would miss.
We always had this crazy idea that we were all going to live on the same street and how we were going to home school our children and I was going to be in charge of teaching them spanish. I know that she is taught me how to live life to the fullest and not to take anything for granted, for that I am thankful to her.

Nathan and Hailey Frogley said...

Hey Emily, I didn't know the story, thanks for sharing. I dont't know if you know that my brother died 5 years ago. Killed by a drunk driver. So I kinda know how you feel and how much you can miss somone. I was reading your memories, and my brother taught me how to play Egyptian Rat Screw too, we;ll have to play sometime. He split my pinky finger open the first time we played. Precious memories:)

Lauren said...

I loved reading every word of this. It was beautifully written and such an amazing tribute to her life. I love you.

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