Sunday, July 3, 2011


 Emily at age 17 in 1996              Rebecca at age 23 in 1981

Friday, June 27 - I spent most of the day that day with my 18-year-old daughter, Emily. I had just bought a little rental house, and I showed it to her, and she was begging me to let her rent it from me and move away from home. We looked at other houses that day, too, and Emily was helping me pick out the next investment.

That evening, we rented and watched the movie Jerry Maguire and I made her cover her eyes while I fast forwarded through the sex scene at the beginning of the movie.

Sunday, June 29 - After church, Emily was up on the roof, cleaned out the gutters, which she volunteered to do. At one point, she was laying down on the roof with her head hanging over the edge, and I told her to stop fooling around before she fell off the roof and broke her neck.

Monday, June 30 - The four of us (Bill, me, 20-year-old son Barry and Emily) made plans to see My Best Friend's Wedding on Thursday. It was the last time that the four of us would sit in a room and talk. It was the last time we were a normal family. It was the last time I saw my daughter conscious.

Tuesday, July 1 - I left for work before Emily got out of bed that day. After working a while, I ran an errand, and when I got back to the office, I saw that Emily had left me a voice mail. "Hi, Mom - it's Emily. I just wanted to let you know that it's 2:00 and I'm leaving for work. I'll see you later. I love you. Bye!"

I listened to the message with my finger perched over the "delete" button on the phone. I started to push it, then I hesitated. I thought, "What if Emily gets killed in a car accident tonight, and this is the last time I will hear her voice? I'll be sorry later that I deleted it." I realized that it was just a morbid thought, and deleted the message.

I had been having thoughts like that for about 18 months. Every time she would leave the house, I would grab her and hug her and say, "I love you! I would die for you!" I always wanted it to be the last thing I said to her, just in case she died in a car accident. I did not treat my other family members this way - just Emily.

When she left to go to work that day, she never came home again.

Wednesday, July 2 - If we had not had the window air conditioner running, we would have been awakened by the sirens at 1:00 am. About a mile from our house, Emily, alone in her compact car and on her way home, swerved to miss a deer and lost control of the car. Her car went into a yaw, and spun into a telephone pole on the passenger's front door. The car wrapped around the pole and the pole struck her head.

We got the call at 2:15 am. We rushed to the hospital to find our daughter in a deep coma. She had brain surgery that day, but it was no use. She never woke up, and around 6:00 pm, the doctor told us that Emily had experienced brain death. We went to sleep at my father's house, because all the bed's at my house, including mine, were occupied by family members from out of town who had rushed to be with us.

Thursday, July 3 - Around 4:00 am, after not sleeping, I told my husband that we were going back to the hospital. We spent all day there, waiting for all the arrangements to be made for the four men who would receive Emily's vital organs. Between Wednesday and Thursday, there were at least 100 family members and friends in and out and just hanging around. At noon, the hospital told everyone to leave so that they could prepare Emily for surgery. Bill and Barry and I stayed.

Later that afternoon, we invited Emily's fiance to return and he came back for an hour or so.

In the evening, I held Emily in my arms one last time and told her about the surgery. I was so afraid that there was a chance that she was still "in there" but couldn't communicate with us and that she was terrified. All I could do was tell her not to be afraid and that she was going to go to heaven and be with God, and that is was going to be all right.

Finally, around 11:30 pm, we said goodbye and went home.

Friday, July 4 - I did not sleep. I stayed awake and called the hospital several times throughout those hours to see how the surgery was going. A wonderful nurse told me details and let me know when Emily's heart stopped beating. They removed her from life support just before dawn on the 4th of July, 1997.


  1. (((Becca))

  2. Becca, That last picture of her, just breaks me. My son is about that age. I am sorry for your loss and astounded and moved by your strength. I know a lot of what you have endured and dealt with. You are in my prayers and thoughts.

  3. Thank you, Karen and Baylor.

    I Photoshopped that last photo to look like an oil painting. I also added the light on her face. The original photo was actually pretty drab. My intention is to have it mounted on canvas to frame and hand on the wall in one of guest rooms.

    Every little thing helps...

  4. Rebecca did you do with the picture what you wanted? I hope you did! Hugs Karen

  5. I love the way it looks. But I have had it enlarged yet. I keep putting it off.

  6. Rebecca, I stare at the blinking bland page. I have trouble seeing through my tear filled eyes. My heart aches from your loss.
    My thoughts and my prayers will always include your family. You were so brave to give others a chance at life by giving them the gift of life. Your sweet Emily is so very proud of her mama and daddy. I, in no way can feel your pain. But my heart burns with your loss. Bill and Barry my heart also burns from the loss of a daughter and a dear sister. I am so so sorry............

  7. Oh Rebecca, my daughters are close to your daughter's age and it just breaks my heart to know you have to carry this pain. I know it will never go away, but am so glad that four people received such a gift from Emily and from you.
    - zookeeper2011

  8. Thank you for your kind words, Zookeeper. I'm sure you'll give those daughters an extra hug and kiss tonight...

  9. You have written this beautifully and very lovingly. I am so happy that she had the chance to help others with her organs. I can only hope that you have had the chance to see life live on in the people that were helped from that decision. Such a tragic ending to a wonderful life. My many condolences to you today and everyday for the last 14 years and many more to come. I could not even imagine enduring such an event.

  10. Thank you so much, Cori! Some years are better than others. Last year was heartbreaking, but this year I am doing better.

  11. Good to hear Becca. I have 2 girls, 10 and 12, every time they leave the house I worry. Probably always will. Glad it's a little better this year for you.

  12. I cannot fathom the depth of your loss Rebecca. What a beautiful tribute to Emily. Thank you so much for sharing the love you have for your daughter with us. I too hug my two boys and tell them I love them each and every time I leave them - even if they are asleep. I even whisper I love you to my husband when I go to work early. I am afraid it might be the last time I get the chance.

    Linda Cox (askwhy456)

  13. Thank you, Linda. I think we all need to live with the realization that it could all be over sooner than we expect. I know I try to live like that now...

  14. Oh Rebecca. Words cannot express how deeply sorry I am for your loss. I have never had children, but I surely can understand the deep bond that you had with your dear Emily. I am not sure why she had to be taken so soon, but perhaps heaven was in need of a good angel. I'm sure she is looking down on you, proud as can be. She was a lovely young lady. Life is hard...but losing life is extremely hard for the survivors, you are in my thoughts and prayers to find strength to get by. I'm sure this is hard, and will always be hard to a certain degree. God bless!