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Live, Laugh, Love

Have you ever had a thought that everything seems to be going so well that there might be something bad just around the corner?

What if I told you that each one of us had that thought a few months before Rachel’s accident?

I promise you, it’s the truth.

About a year before Rachel passed away, I was running one evening and I had so much on my mind with trying to figure out if I was going to stay in Florida, what I was suppose to do and what was the next step for me. All of the sudden this overwhelming feeling came over me like something was going to happen, but the feeling was that something was going to happen to me. I just started tearing up at the thought of what I felt. Then it immediately went away as I walked to my car. I never thought about that day again until I got that terrible phone call on July 21st.

But what hit me was the fact that I was trying to get out of Florida for a few years but something kept keeping me here, literally. I now know why I was meant to be here…

A few weeks after everything happened and we slowly had to shift back into the family business mode, Mom received a package in the mail that was addressed to Rachel. She opened it and it was a set of dvd’s titled, “Live, Laugh, Love.” This was one of Rachel’s favorite sayings and it was all throughout her house. Mom didn’t know what it was but had to call and let them know what happened and cancel the order. Well, one thing led to another and when Mom realized what it was she decided to put it in her name and see what it was all about. It turns out that the dvd’s contained women from the Women of Faith tour speaking about life, loss, family etc. As mom started to watch the speakers she quickly realized that her getting this package was no accident…

As Mom put two and two together, she realized that the new Bible’s she bought the 3 of us the Christmas before were the Women of Faith edition. I had been reading in it and didn’t have a clue until she told me. Apparently Rachel noticed it and that’s how she found the Live, Laugh, Love edition and ordered it. But as you see it made it’s way to Mom in the perfect moment….more to come about this later in another post.

About a month after the funeral I had gotten a jury duty letter for the upcoming week. First time I had ever had jury duty and it’s at a time like this? Seriously? I didn’t cancel because I didn’t want to have to reschedule it at another time so I had a book that I had been wanting to read and went to sit in boredom for hours. As I got there, I realized I was the youngest person there (and this was in Venice, FL where the average age is literally 70). I was looking for a seat and found one next to this cute little lady that was knitting and seemed to be minding her own business. As I sat down and looked around the room, I had this overwhelming claustrophobic feeling where all I wanted to do was stand up and scream. Nobody had a clue what I was going through and I wanted to get out of there immediately. As I zapped back to reality, they started to play this corny video that felt like back in middle school where you were forced to watch it because the teacher had nothing else planned for the hour. As it plays, the little lady beside me looks up and says, “Who do they think we are, idiots?” It caught me off guard and I literally busted out laughing. All I could do was look at her and say, “Thank you for that,” then followed it up with a hug. I think she was surprised that I reached over and hugged her but it brought the biggest smile to her face.

The book that I took with me to read was “To Heaven and Back.” This doctor was interviewed on the Today Show the morning before we lost Rachel. I was about to turn off the TV and something made me keep it on and watch the interview. I’m glad I did because little did I know I would be reading her story a few weeks later to try and relate to it. I won’t give away details but what struck me the most was when she was pulled out of the kayak, her friends were trying to revive her. But as she was in Heaven, she was looking back like, “Why are they trying to save me? I don’t want to go back….” She said it was the most unbelievable feeling she had ever felt, so much that when she came back she went into a depression because of it. I sat there reading and it hit me, Rachel would not want to come back here to earth and it’s just my selfishness wanting her here for everyone around. If Rachel would have survived, she would have been paralyzed because she broke her lower back and her neck. I can’t even imagine seeing her like that because of how and who she was – always active and it would have killed me. The entire book is great but I won’t give away anything in case you decide to read it. But what I read in that moment was exactly what I needed to hear (and who knows, I may not have read that book otherwise), I needed to laugh at what the old lady said and of course it had to be in my first ever jury duty.

In the last post I mentioned going through Rachel’s phone and how so many things related to what happened and what was to come. Here’s a note she typed that was 9 days before she passed away.

Who you want to be

It gives you some chills right? I got them too when I saw this. Below is a photo that I took of Rachel back in ’09 on Venice beach. We use to go get coffee and head to the beach to take sunset pictures because it was just something we loved to do together and there was just something about a sunset…

I found these photos a few weeks before the accident and I started editing them and this is how this one came out. Who knew that this photo and these words would be something to come in the very near future.

I was suppose to interview Sierra Anderson that Tuesday following the accident and I had to email her and ask if we could schedule it at another time. She wrote me back and was just completely devastated having 2 sisters herself. She followed up with another email just letting me know that she was praying for our family and sent me this: (click on it and you can read it)

Do not be afraid

Here was this stranger I had only spoken to in a few emails that sends me this and in that moment I read it, again it was exactly something I needed to hear…

Are you starting to see that things really do happen for a reason? Mom said something that hit me between the eyes and it has such truth to it. She said, “I knew that you three girls were on loan to me, that’s why the most important thing we ever did was to make sure you were saved and had a solid foundation that could not be shaken.” Wow. It’s true, every child is on loan from the Lord and here to do something while here on earth. I was speaking to a friend who called to check up on me a few weeks later and they said to me, “Aren’t you angry at God for doing this?” And it took me a second to realize what they just said to me. I replied with, “No. Sure I have some anger but I’m not by any means angry at God, He’s the one getting me through this.” The conversation became awkward and my heart broke that they thought that at all. I know there have been times that I’ve missed an opportunity to witness to someone and that kills me to think that now knowing how truly precious life is. Not many can relate with me on that level until you go through it but I’m telling you that you’re woken up from just going about your daily lives even as a Christian. I now know that I have to take every opportunity that comes my way to answer others questions or to not be afraid to share what I know.

The first time we went back to church after the accident was so terribly tough. As we walked in, the music was playing, people were singing and getting excited to fellowship. I was good until the end of the service when a girl got up to sing. She was in cowgirl boots with long brown curly hair that looked just like Rachel while singing, “I’ll Stand By You.” I lost it. The tears were flowing as were Moms and we had a few people look over at us with these stares. I thought to myself, “Oh man, they probably think we need Jesus with the way we look.” And that’s just it – how many times have you seen someone standing beside you in church or even out in public that may be in a bad mood or upset? There is absolutely no telling what is going on in their lives at the moment especially with the way our world is today too.

A friend that reads this blog just lost one of her best friends the other day and I ask that you pray for that girls family because they are in the storm that our family was in 8 months ago. My friend told me, “I’ve loved reading your posts, who knew that I would have to put some of this to use so soon.” It’s terrible and my heart breaks but she was saved and now she might even be running around up there Rachel which I have no doubt she would have been the first one to hug her.

More to come…

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