Hand to Hold's Official Blog: Written by Parents for Parents

Tribute to Rachel

This tribute was submitted by Angela.

Rachel was brought into our family on November 25, 2003, with her twin brother, Sam. Being our first children, they quickly became best friends. They could always be found together playing, coloring or reading.

Rachel was the little mommy of our household. When we were teaching Sam and Rachel to say their prayers, Rachel always felt the need to help Sam say his. Sometimes this became a problem when Sam didn’t want help. When her baby brother was born, she was insistent that she be able to help feed him, change his diaper, and hold him. She loved to play with him and keep him happy. She was a great helper to me when I was tired.

Sometimes her stubborn nature would exasperate us when she didn’t want to do something she should or when she got it in her head that she was going to do something she shouldn’t. However, she was also the child that wanted the most cuddles. Most mornings, she wouldn’t wake up until she had had her morning cuddle.

Rachel was always willing to try new things. She loved to try new foods and was always the first to climb the big toys at the park. She loved to learn, and as a result she asked some deep questions that we sometimes struggled to find the answers for. Rachel loved school and was doing very well in the first grade. She made new friends easily. Her teacher commented that she was always willing to help a class mate.

Even though Rachel was born seven weeks premature, she was a very healthy child. She did not have any long-term effects of being premature, and she rarely got sick. On December 13, 2010, Rachel had her tonsils removed because of their large size and the thought that she may have sleep apnea because of them. She had a slightly complicated recovery because of her stubbornness. She didn’t like the pain medication, so she wouldn’t take it. As a result, she had more pain than was necessary.

By Christmas, she was feeling much better and enjoyed a wonderful day with her family.

In the afternoon of December 27, 2010, Rachel began complaining of a headache. I thought she must be dehydrated, so I tried to get her to drink as much fluid as she could. By evening, she had started vomiting and was in a lot of pain. We decided to watch her overnight, and if she didn’t get better we would take her to the doctor the next day. It was a very long night, with Rachel waking very frequently to throw up or ask for a drink. At around four in the morning, we decided to take her to the ER. She had been dizzy and couldn’t stand on her own. Her skin color was off, and I could tell something was not right. When we put her in her booster seat, she was limp and slumped over. I drove as fast as I could to the hospital talking to her the entire way. When I got her out of the car, she was not responding anymore. When I got her inside, she was unconscious. I watched as they took my little girl and started CPR. I think at that time I got an inkling that it was not going to end well. She was not breathing, and her heart rate was very slow. They intubated her and gave her shots of epinephrine every two minutes. After a very long 45 minutes, the doctor came to me and told me that there was nothing more they could do and that my only little girl had died.

The next week went by in a blur. We chose to have an autopsy performed so we could find out what had happened. It took a couple of days to get the results. Our pediatrician was amazing. He came to the ER immediately when he was called and spent some time with us.  He also acted as our go-between with the medical examiner’s office.  He called us a couple times a day to let us know what was happening and what the status was. When the results came in, he called to let us know what had caused Rachel’s death.  Unknown to us, Rachel was born with a very small spleen.  In her seven years of life, it had deteriorated and was not functioning properly.  Somehow, Rachel had contracted Streptococcus pneumoniae. This is one of the few infections that is fought primarily by the spleen.  Since her spleen was not functioning, her body could not fight the infection, and it spread through her entire body very quickly.  It was approximately 15 hours from the time of her first symptom to her death.

We were told that there was nothing we could have done differently to save our little girl.

There are simply not words sufficient to express how heartbroken we have been and how much we miss our daughter. We know there is a long road of grief ahead of us and that we are just getting started on our journey. It has helped to be able to tell her story.  I thank you all for reading and letting me tell you a little bit about her life. The following is her obituary, written by her daddy.

“Rachel was a precious soul who was fascinated by the everyday miracles of life. Due to unforeseen illness, she died suddenly on December 28, 2010, in the company of her mother, in spite of the very best efforts of the emergency room staff at Jordan Valley Hospital.

Though our hearts are heavy with her parting, our lives were made full by her life with us.

She loved reading, science and service for others. Her naturally stubborn nature demanded more family time together, and her laughter will forever fill our hearts.

Rachel is survived by her parents Brett and Angela; twin brother Sam; younger brothers James and Gabriel; grandparents John and Sue Beyer and Jerry and Juleen Nelson; along with a huge extended loving family.”


Afton Mower About Afton Mower

After Mower (UT) lost her firstborn son at 21 weeks.  Her daughter was born a year and a half later at 27 weeks.  The NICU was overwhelming and isolating and it was through those two experiences she was led to found this social hub for parents to find the support they needed. Afton also gave birth to another daughter, born two days overdue after four months of strict bedrest. She believes it is a tender experience to hold a special baby in your arms when his spirit returns to his heavenly home, a miracle to watch tiny babies survive the risks of prematurity and a blessing to hold a healthy full-term baby after months of difficulty and sacrifices.


  1. Michele Rodda says:

    Your story is heartbreaking. My apologies cannot ever express how terrible I feel for your loss. When one we love is so swiftly stolen from us I think it’s even more difficult to deal w/ as we are not given a chance to prepare, not that preparation is ever enough when it comes to the loss of ones child. It just seems so unfair. Your strong willed Rachel sounds a lot like my daughter and as I was reading I kept thinking … Oh wow… this sounds exactly like Serena! I have said a prayer for your family in hopes that you will have the time you need to grieve and are able to have the strength to eventually get back to your daily routine. I’m sure you feel Rachel all around you and I’d bet all I’ve got that she is! Much love to you all.

  2. Wow-so touching! I’m sure she’s in heaven doing all the same things and watching over your family as your guardian angel.

  3. Ayse Jelffs says:

    Dear Rachel’s Family,

    I feel heartbroken for you! There are no words to try to express oneself in such a tragedy. I have one child, also a daughter. I know that what she and us share is far bigger than death. I truly believe Rachel’s soul is very much with you, and she also has a place in heaven where she can enjoy God’s love and care. Her life was precious and had great meaning, now her soul still is precious and has great meaning. I live in Hawaii and didn’t even know you existed till now, yet with one look at that beautiful face and reading her story touched my heart! You will all be in my prayers.

  4. Kim Maratto says:

    There are no words. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  5. Erica Snipes says:

    Dear Rachel’s family,

    I can’t imagine your heartbreak. As a fellow mom of preemie boy-girl twins, your circumstances have touched my heart which is breaking and hurting for you. There are no words that I feel I can say to express my sympathy. I know you’ve heard beautiful things said about your daughter, and I’m sure that your extended family has been a huge support for you, and I hope it continues to be. I believe God has a special path and plan for each of us, and that you have a strenth about you because of this horrible tragedy. My prayer is that you will always continue to honor Rachel’s life with the way your live yours, and be comforted by the love and support of family and friends when there are hard times. With much sympathy at your loss,

    Erica Snipes

  6. As I sit here reading this, I am in tears. I am so very sorry your precious Rachel is not in your arms, where she should be. Today is the 2 year anniv. of my daughter, Lilly’s passing. I know she was there welcoming Rachel into heaven’s gates….*hugs*

Speak Your Mind