Monday, July 4, 2016


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

Friday, June 27, 1997 - 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 beds at my house, including mine, were occupied by family members from out of town who had rushed in 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 it 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. (((hugs))) Thank you for sharing this story of your beautiful Emily.

  2. Thank you for sharing this

  3. She is beautiful...Thank you for posting; your story was beautiful and heart breaking. Every moment counts.

  4. Thank you for your warm thoughts, Mrs. Swan, Diana and Sara.

  5. What a beautiful child and family! And what a legacy. She lives on in 4 people! Praise God. And I'm so sad for her absence for you all.

  6. thank you for sharing Rebecca, my prayers with you and your family.

  7. I just got onto your blog from a recipe you shared and this was the first thing I read. It brought such sadness to my heart and can't even imagine the pain and sadness you and your family have had to share over these past 17 years. But by remembering and recounting what happens, it keeps Emily alive in your hearts and memories, as being a organ donor she really does live on and she has given others life also. My heartfelt condolences to you��

    1. Thank you so much for your kind thoughts!

  8. There are no words to erase the pain of a mother losing a child. My mom lost her sister when my mom was 13. Interestingly, when she shares of that time, beside the fact that she ALWAYS cries (every. single. time.), it's VERY rarely about her personal pain. Rather, my mom's pain is sifted through the scope of seeing HER mother's pain after she lost her child. THAT hurts my mom so deeply, -to remember her mother's loss and grief and how that loss then shaped the rest of their lives.
    I hope and pray that God gives you good days filled with light moments, and that you are able to remember your daughter with joy and a smile. I hope her life and your sharing have left a lingering message in the hearts of those closest to all of you, and I TRUST that God will help you to one day make sense of your loss and pain, if not in this life, then in eternity with Him. Blessings to you.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind and tender words, Momma! Most of my days are good, because I have decided to be happy and enjoy my life. That was not an easy decision to make, and it took many years for me to reach that place. I have a wonderful husband, a wonderful son and two wonderful, happy, beautiful grandchildren. There are so many unanswered questions, and I do hope some day that I will find the answers I seek. Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts with me.


  9. very nice post with full of sorrow and some element of happiness, but we can not ignore the reality..

  10. *hugs* I am so sorry for your loss.

  11. Oh, Rebecca. I just can't even imagine. I am so sorry for your loss.