VOICES: Remembering Rachel

VOICES: Remembering Rachel

Emma Nance, Staff

NANCE

“Ems,” my dad calls out to me. “Uncle Danny’s on the phone.”

“Hi Uncle Danny!” I exclaim. It’s my 13th birthday, and I’m happy to finally be a teenager.

“Happy birthday Emmie,” my uncle says, calling me the nickname my Aunt Rachel gave me. He chokes on his words realizing this. I can tell he is trying his best to sound happy.

“Thank you Danny,” I say, also attempting to keep my composure.

We continue our conversation, his voice cracking occasionally as he talks. Eventually, we hang up, and I burst out crying. My dad comforts me. He’s maybe the only person who understands how much I miss Aunt Rachel, because she was his sister.

Most birthdays since I was 8 go like this. Danny calls, we talk, I hang up and begin crying. I barely knew Rachel,  but of all my aunts, she made the biggest impression on me. She always talked about how God can help you through anything, and that the people who say mean things to you are the ones who want what you already have. She is the reason I believe in religion so strongly.

Riding to my soccer game on my birthday, I listen to music on my phone, trying to focus. And then, Avril Lavigne’s “When You’re Gone” comes on. It’s the song that reminds me of Rachel every time I hear it. Normally, I skip it. Today, I don’t want to.

When I was younger, I didn’t quite grasp the concept of death, but now that I’m older, I understand that she’ll never be there for me to talk to again. I still have the shirt she gave me when I was 7, even though it’s three sizes too small. I also have the “Kit” book she gave me.

Rachel was only 42 when she died, but she accomplished so much. She was the preacher’s wife, never went against her religion, even as she desperately battled cancer. She decided to take a trial medication that could have worsened her tumors, but to her, it was worth it for all the future people who might take it. She put her life on the line so that others wouldn’t have to.

I think of how wonderful she was. I think of how I wish she could see how far I’ve come. I think of how she would eat Oreos with microwaved milk and ice cubes. I never tried it. I think of the calls every year. How he calls, we talk, I hang up and begin to cry. When she died, they all tried to make me feel better, because I was young and birthdays are meant to be happy days. Yet mine never is.

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