Our dear daughter and sister, Raquel, passed away from a terminal illness (read the exact type and rest of story on Natural Wellness Club). We believe she had a choice back in September, whether she would stay with us or go to heaven. The doctors did not think she would come out of the surgery and she did suffer a brain trauma from it. We believe she knew how hard it would be, but that she wanted to stay because she did have a chance to make some more memories and to touch more people with her light.
CLICK HERE to go directly to the recording of Raquel’s memorial services.
Over the last couple months as I was trying to save her life, I felt like several things happened that were out of my control. I kept feeling that she had a chance to stay and heal, but it was definitely a race against time in fighting this most aggressive illness she had. There were just enough factors and things I didn’t know that stacked the deck against us. When it was all said and done, I really felt that it had been the Lord’s plan for her to leave. Raquel and I were both stubborn and didn’t want it to happen. I wanted to keep fighting, but when she was gone I realized what a huge relief it was for me and especially for her. I had prayed that God would prepare us and give us time to say goodbye. With many tender mercies, he answered my prayers. My parents had come to stay with us for just a few days, and their timing was impeccable. It was a great blessing to have them there. The previous afternoon, we had taken her to St. George for some medical appointments. She was so tired and weak. I felt sorry to have to drag her around in the heat and put her through it. But my husband came and met us, and she was able to repeat the words that she said so many times before, “I love you so much, I love you so much.”
It was a sweet, sweet moment that we were able to connect with her, in love. After that appointment was done, and Mike helped us get her back into the car, he left to return to our children in Cedar city for the night and my parents returned with Raquel and I to Mesquite. A couple nights before she had thrown up a little food after we fed her in the evening. We were worried that she had aspirated a little into her right lung and that it was going to compromise her strength and respiratory system. That night before she passed, she threw up a few more times, and it worried me even more. I called Mike and he suggested we put her on her right side so that the less-likely-affected left lung would function better. We had a suction machine that I was using to suction out some of the mucus she had in her nose and throat, that she was not able to spit out. She still had some paralysis in her cheek, mouth and throat from the last surgery in September, which made it difficult, if not impossible, for her to get the mucus out of her throat. I fought my hardest for Raquel’s life, but when I realized that she was getting really distressed and might not make it, I called my husband up in Cedar city and told him to get in the car with the kids and come right then. They arrived at the perfect time. They didn’t have to watch her struggle as long as I did. We are able to sing songs to her as she was taking her last breaths.
Even then I was still not going to give up. I asked my husband if he thought her brain function was all the way gone. He believed it was, as her pupils had been unresponsive and different sizes for several hours. For the past month, her jaw had been clenched shut but sometime in the early morning, it had loosened and opened. But she had still been responsive. I thought perhaps there was still one more thing I could do to help her so I asked my family to go out of the room for a few minutes. As soon as they were out of the room, she immediately stopped breathing. I gently called them all back in to give her one last kiss and say goodbye.
My husband came and gave me a big hug and told me not to fret or worry about what had happened. He assured me that I had done all I could for her, and that now she needed to be in a better place. He helped me let her go. For me, at that moment, it was a bittersweet goodbye. But for my other family members, it was a loving, happy goodbye. They had not had to watch her day-to-day in her decline. They had not had to experience the worry and the sadness of those two months, seeing her get weaker and weaker. I think the Lord was preparing us, preparing them to not have her around, and preparing me to be ready to not have her suffer any longer.
Once she was gone, I couldn’t help but shed tears all that day and the next. But every hour after her death gave me greater feelings of relief for myself and for her, and also greater understanding. I realized that it really was our Heavenly Father’s plan for her to return to him, but that He had gifted us an entire extra year with her, to make some amazing memories, for her to share her love with so many, and to prepare to give her back to Him.
God taught us so much, about so many different things. I received a huge education in health. We feel that if she had had any other type of illness, with all the things we did for her, we would have knocked it out of the park. But hers was one of the most aggressive and pernicious of illnesses. The majority of people don’t live more than one year and we felt that we really were blessed to have her as long as we did. Those who know me, know I am a big believer in natural remedies. In this case, radiation therapy definitely helped extend her life, and for that I am grateful. But more importantly then all the knowledge I gained about healing, we learned so much about loving. We were able to experience the grandest out-pouring of love from so many people, time and time again over this year. We learned about true compassion and service, because we experienced it. We were the recipients of so many thoughtful messages and acts of love. People visited, brought flowers and gifts, sent loving messages on Facebook, brought food to our family, invited my kids over to play, cleaned our house, and so many more things that I can’t list them all. I wrote a whole blog post about it (here).
Raquel was a huge example to me through all this, as she patiently worked through her trials and never complained. It was only one time that I remember, with one of the myriad of tough things she endured, that she said the words, “this is so, so hard.” That was it. She never said it again. She never complained or asked, “why me?” As my husband said, she soldiered through the challenge that was ahead of her, with determination and positive attitude. She was an example and inspiration to us, a true warrior princess. Her memorial service, reflected her peaceful air of determination and trust in God. I could not have asked for a more perfect day. We hugged and expressed love (like Raquel always did) to all the sweet people who came to view her body for the last time and say goodbye. I was very touched by her friends, because her friends had brought her so much joy in her life. I sincerely wanted everyone who was mourning for her to feel God’s peace, since we were feeling it so strongly. We had asked my mother to give Raquel’s life history, since she expresses things so eloquently, and she did a fantastic job. Raquel’s friends from drama wanted to sing at the service and the graveside, and their singing was so beautiful and perfect. Mike spoke about all the lessons he learned from Raquel, and it was very powerful, humorous and touching. I was able to sing a song with my mom and sisters about faith in Christ and testimony. We honestly did not know if we would be able to do it, or if we would be singing through our tears. None of us cried; instead we were blessed with strength and clarity.
We had all of Raquel’s cousins sing one verse of “I am a child of God” and it was perfect. We had a couple of her dear friends speak, and I’m so glad we did! They gave us insight to her sparkling, spunky personality and made us laugh. A few days before she passed, her dear friend Chloe had asked her what song she liked, so she could learn it on the piano. Out of a few choices, Raquel chose Amazing Grace as her favorite.
So we asked her brother Nathan and his girlfriend to sing that song. I knew it would be beautiful, but I had no idea how gorgeous it would turn out. Nathan did struggle with his emotions a bit, and had to sing through some tears. But he was able to do it, and do it beautifully. It made the song even more impactful. I’m so proud of him. This was an insert in the program as a keepsake for Raquel’s friends and family. After that service we adjourned to the cemetery for a dedicatory prayer over the grave and a balloon release. Again, the prayer given by my father, and the music sung by her friends was perfect and touching. I had picked out some music to play during the balloon release, sung by Mindy Gledhill. Her music gave me so much joy and comfort over this past year, especially when Raquel was in the hospital, and over the last two months before her passing. The lyrics to a couple of her songs were running through my head the night Raquel passed. That night when I was trying to go to sleep, I also felt a strong impression that Raquel would really love us to do a balloon release, as had been done at her friend’s funeral, Brittany Lacey, who had passed away two years prior. Again, I cannot imagine how perfect it would end our day. Here is a short clip of that special event.
After that, we took some family photos together and went back to the church for the big dinner with all our family members and some dear friends. All day, I felt that Raquel was smiling over the proceedings and shedding her shining light of love and approval upon us. The joy that brought to my heart, and seeing all the love that so many people had for her and their appreciation for the life she lived, was enough to counter at the sorrow and loss. I’ve had the feeling that there would be plenty of hard moments in the future, where I will miss Raquel dearly and tearfully. The week since the service has been full of happy family moments, goodbyes to extended family members, loving friends who came to our house to help clean and sort, and many hugs. I’ve been feeling the urge and desire to write about the experience, but the words were just not coming until a loving friend and her questions in a message, drew them out of me. There have been other communications with certain people and something else that I could not have foreseen, along with the discovery of comments and videos of Raquel playing music we did not know existed. It has cheered our hearts, and as I posted them on Facebook, it has cheered hearts of others. Now I’m going to continue searching for more of her treasures and share them with you soon. I know that Raquel is happy. I’m sure she felt great relief to be free of her struggling physical body. I I feel a strong surety that she was greeted by many extended family members and dear friends on the other side of the veil, when she passed. She has been watching over us and the events of these past few days with gladness in her heart and music filling her soul. I’m so happy to think of her now singing and dancing the way she loved to do so much before her physical body made it so hard.
She is flying high with her angel wings. I know that our Heavenly father loves us. I know that his sole purpose is to help us achieve lasting joy here as well as in the eternities, and that our experiences here, though they may be painful, teach us how to feel increased joy, and prepare for that incomprehensible happiness that will last forever. Jesus Christ has restored the power and authority that he brought to the earth, back to his holy prophets in the latter days. That same authority can seal us together as families beyond the grave.
Jesus Christ was resurrected for all of us, and because of that, we, along with Raquel, will all receive perfect, immortal bodies someday. Who knows? She may have hers already, and I’m so happy about that. I know that she will be sharing this knowledge and help with many others who have died, and who miss their families. I know she will be sharing the light of the gospel with so many, and sharing peace and truth with lost souls.
CLICK HERE to go to the recording of Raquel’s memorial services.