This is the story that took place on 333 E Willis St in Monticello, Arkansas on June 24th, 2021. Rebekah, my nineteen-year-old daughter, and I text and talk daily, and on Wednesday, June 23rd, she texts she needs to talk. As soon as I was able, I called to see what was up. She told me she wanted to move in with me. She wanted to get a job and start saving to get her and Harley, her fiance, a place to stay. Harley was about to go into the National Guard. They were getting their lives together. I told her I got off at 5 and could be there to get her by 7. She insisted that I wait until Saturday so it would be easier on me.
On Thursday, June 24th, my world forever changed. I never heard from Rebekah, which was very unusual. Around noon, I got a Facebook message from a nurse at St Vincent looking for the family of a patient. At first, I thought it might be a scam, so I didn’t immediately respond. Not long after I got the message, the Monticello Police Department called me. She asked if I was Regina and if I lived in Monticello. I told her I was, but that I lived in North Little Rock. She told me to hang on a moment. She came back to the phone after a few minutes and asked if I could be reached on this number at any time. I said of course, and then I asked if my daughter was okay. She said that’s what they needed to talk to me about and then hung up the phone. My boss immediately came around the corner to check on me. I told him about the message from the nurse and the call from the police department. He told me I needed to get to the hospital. My co-worker drove me.
When I arrived at the ER, they took me to a room to talk to the surgeon. As she was telling me everything it just didn’t seem real. The doctors had done everything they could to give her a fighting chance, but she had only a 5% survival rate. They said if she did survive, she would never come off the ventilator. She would live her life just laying in bed never speaking, eating, having any emotion. That is no kind of life to live.
Rebekah wanted to be an organ donor. Rebekah and I had talked about death more than we probably should have. When we talked about her being an organ donor, she said, “Momma, I’m going to be dead, what good will my organs do me? Let someone have them who needs them.” She spoke of the research that could be done in case one of her organs couldn’t be used. She thought that was the coolest thing.
Rebekah and I had a bond like no other. We didn’t have your typical mother/daughter relationship. I sat by her bedside for five days holding her hand and assuring her how much I loved her. I only left the room when I was forced to. I had my sister, Felicia, go to her dad’s house to wake him up to get to the hospital because decisions had to be made.
We had to decide when to take her off the ventilator. The doctors said the longer we kept her on the ventilator, the longer we prolonged her death and the less likely she would get to be an organ donor. On Friday, June 25th, we decided to remove her from the vent on Monday, June 28th. Starting that Friday, people from the Arkansas Regional Organ Recovery Agency (ARORA) started showing up to get things going. We spoke to their representatives, including Kerrie, Ben, Leah, Kristie, and Colleen. Kerrie and Ben were there to help Bobby and me through the process with any questions or concerns we may have had. Leah and Kristi were the nurses that took care of Rebekah and were there throughout the process of retrieving Rebekah’s organs. Colleen was there for me on Monday to help me get through the day. The people from ARORA made the process a little more bearable if that is even possible. Ben and Kerrie were great. They stayed by our sides as long as humanly possible. Leah and Kristie worked tirelessly to find recipients for our sweet baby’s organs so that her legacy could live on and she could save lives. They went above and beyond what my definition of a nurse is. We all knew that Rebekah was not going to survive the trauma she went through, but everyone treated her as if she would wake up any minute and recover.
On Monday, June 28th, I gave Rebekah her final bath. I washed her gently as if she were a newborn baby. I washed between each finger and toe. I washed areas she probably didn’t want me washing, but as a mother, it was my duty to see that my baby was well taken care of and clean.
Twenty years before, on July 30th, 2001, at 6:42 PM I watched my little angel take her first breath of air. But on June 28th, 2021, at 3:14 PM, I watched my little angel take her final breath of air. This is not something any parent should have to go through. I watched the monitors and the nurse’s face. I could tell the time was getting close. Kristi gave us a warning sign stating her stats were dropping, and it would happen soon.
The following is the truth as we know it as to why the above events took place. This is information gathered by the Monticello, Arkansas detectives, and the recollection of events as told by Harley and his mom Grace. Harley and Rebekah were engaged to be married on July 28, 2021. They lived with his mom and stepdad.
At approximately 7:20 AM on June 24th, Rebekah became a victim of domestic gun violence. Rebekah and Harley lived with his mom and step dad. On the morning in question, Manuel (the stepdad) thought someone was trying to kill him. He woke up his wife Grace and told her to go to the kitchen and get the kids up. Manual walked into the hall next to the kitchen and shot Grace. He just missed her heart by 3 inches. He then turned in the hall and faced the kid’s room and shot Rebekah. He then shot Harley. Harley was able to shoot and kill Manuel and call 911 to try and save the others. Harley died on his way to the hospital. Manual was believed to be an undiagnosed paranoid schizophrenic. Rebekah was shot in the head. The bullet went in on the left side and shattered as it went through her little brain. There was no exit wound. The bullet shredded the main artery in her brain.
Rebekah became a horrible statistic. But, because of the decision she made several years early, she saved five lives on June 28th. If you are not an organ donor, I urge you to think about it. You could save countless lives. Like my daughter said, if she isn’t using her organs, then just maybe someone else can have another chance at life.