If I had known this would be the last time, I’m sure we would have talked about something else besides cleaning grout with dish soap or the big squash I gave her from my husband’s garden. We might have talked about her kids, and how she was feeling, (which was tired from time to time), and ended with a good, long hug.
But then, I guess, that is life, and death, for you. One day, a sweet, young woman with a heart of gold is reassuring you, “I got you,” as she rustles by cleaning the hidden corners and little crevices in your house as she has for more than five years or so. Two weeks later, her picture suddenly pops up on your social media feed as “Missing.” A day later, “Dead.”
That is how life and death, or at least how Rachel’s story, unfolded for me, one of the many people who cared about her, approximately a month ago.
Disbelief turned to sadness as the story of this 37-year-old mother of five, who simply went out for a run on the Ma and Pa trail in Harford County, only to be violently murdered, became the fodder of the Maryland local and national TV networks. Sadness turned to fear as the theory it was someone she knew was proven wrong, first by the “Nancy Grace” pundits, and later by the DNA. And then, Fear turned back into disbelief, (and then fear again), as the DNA matched a serial killer from Los Angeles who could strike again, here, or anywhere.
For weeks now, questions have been swirling around in my mind. But they’re not the type of questions most “True Crime” followers would be asking. If this bizarre situation had put me on such a sad, tense, and sometimes dark, emotional ride, how was her family coping? How were they living with the suddenness of her death, or with unknowns like, “Will this guy ever get caught, and, “When?”
In my own search for some type of closure, I finally looked to Rachel and how she led her life. And, I gleaned parts of her Memorial(s) for answers. Her close family and friends said Rachel tried to live each day to the fullest. She was kind, funny, loving. Death always seems to remind us of how short life is, because we never know exactly when our final days will be.
Can you imagine what the world would be like if we never forgot this? How much more fulfilling and deeper we might connect with others on a regular basis, beyond discussing cleaning grout and growing squash?
Rachel also had a deep faith which sustained her through hard times. You can see it as a bedrock within her family. You can hear it in the religious songs she enjoyed. And faith involves trust. From something as simple as trusting someone to clean all the corners and crevices in your house, to believing “Justice for Rachel” will come in time, faith and trust are intertwined as a vital part of our relationships, interpersonal and spiritual. Without faith and trust, our relationships, or connections, are on shaky ground and frequently don’t stand the test of time.
If there was ever a time to live in a more kind, loving, and connected world, with faith in the God of our understanding, it is now, not only for Rachel’s sake but for our own. Rest in Peace, Rachel. Gone from our sight but never from our hearts.