RHIANNON'S LEGACY page 1
by Dave Miller----------aka: Daddy
Thirteen years… Merely a flicker in the flame of humanity. Yet, I hope that I accomplish as much in my entire lifetime. I don’t mean constructing a building… or becoming a business tycoon. Not bowling 300, or bungee jumping off a bridge in New Zealand. I am talking about giving a gift to human kind. Making an impression that can change the way people look at the world. And how they interact with it. And mostly… how they treat each other.
All children are unique and special. Many will go on to lead, innovate, and affect the world in many ways. Still, some will be taken too soon.
Rhiannon was a true individual. Maverick… unique… uncommon. She stepped to her own beat, and dared… no… was proud to be different. She wore what she wanted to wear… even if it wasn’t “cool”. She played the games she wanted to play… even if others thought it was silly. She stuck up for the underdog… even if it made her an outcast. She had a smile and a kind word for everyone she met. And was never shy about showing affection. When most tall girls (5’10”…!!) would try to de-emphasize their height, Rhiannon put on high heels, stood tall, and walked proudly.
Our girl was rarely bored. She was always able to keep herself entertained. Even when she was alone. She had a spirited and vivid imagination, and was never embarrassed to act it out in front of anyone. That is, perhaps, one reason she gravitated to younger children. Because they loved it!
Rhiannon was, possibly, the world’s youngest “old soul”. Despite her youth and innocence, she had a wisdom about her, and showed signs of an evolving philosophy that was way beyond her years. Some of the expressions she used really made you wonder “where the heck did she come up with that??” (Granny, maybe..??)
…So, now we are left without her in this world. Yet, her presence is felt more than ever. Those that loved her are professing it. Those that knew her, now love her. Those that didn’t know her, wish they had. I heard that a staff member at her school commented on the fact that a calm has befallen the school. That kids are “being nice to each other”. Perhaps it is because they have suddenly been given a gift of knowledge that usually comes later in life. A familiar thing to say when you find that a child has been teased or bullied is “kids can be so cruel”. Well, the children that have been affected by Rhiannon’s death have found the kindness and compassion that lies within them and brought it to the surface… to comfort each other. The stories they have shared. The solace they have given, and the love they have shown through their entries in Rhiannon’s guestbook, and the fellowship with each other are a testimony to their inherent goodness.
I don’t know if I believe in destiny… but if there is such a thing, then the circumstances that have unfolded this last month certainly have the glint of destiny. The accident, though sudden, violent, and tragic, somehow has a purity about it. She did not suffer. She was doing something she loved to do. It was quick… painless… guiltless… blameless. A very human error. No negligence. Just a mistake. There were no villains… only heroes.
They say that “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”. I think we all know now what we had. The beauty is… that we still have it. But instead of having it in one… we now see it in many. The kids in and around Rhiannon’s life have been given the gift of knowing what true power is. The power of acceptance, tolerance, kindness, and giving. Ignorance and intolerance have the power to trample a few. But kindness and love… and a smile… have the power to lift up everyone.
I have heard that there are plans to dedicate some kind of permanent memorial to her at Reeves Middle School. I know that for some of the kids this will be a reminder to them of the days that they discovered the beauty of acceptance and the power of love. And perhaps, for some, their life will be changed in some way forever. Some will have children of their own who will attend Reeves. And, when their child asks about the girl that is memorialized, some will say they knew her, and loved her, and learned a valuable lesson from her. Others will say that they did not know her…. But, they will never forget her.
Rhiannon's family and friends share their favorite memories . . .
here are some excerpted from Rhiannon's guestbook.
. . . her giving spirit and smile.
Bryan Miller, Brother
. . . how she was kind and cared about everyone.
Janelle Johnson, classmate
I'll miss her smile that brightened the class.
I never saw her down, always trying to have fun and see the good in things.
It had to be when she was running around with the other sixth graders
in the gym and just laughing as much as her face could handle.
Ashlie Andersen, classmate
She was a one of a kind girl, won't forget her individuality!
Alicia Rance, went to school with Rhiannon
Every time that I saw Rhiannon in the hall at school she always had the biggest smile on her face. She had the largest heart in the world for anything and everyone. She will be truly missed by *~L*O*T*S~* of people. She was the clown of the camp . . .
She made everything that we did a blast . . . She joked when people were down and she never gave up at anything. She had this horse names Scout. He was the most stubborn horse I have ever met. She made that horse do everything if it took all that was in her. She was a never-give-upper!!!!
Brittany Lastoka, classmate
There's one thing that stuck out with Rhiannon; that's how much she smiled. Always laughing, smiling, having a good time. No one was bringing her down when she was in her best of moods. I admired this aspect of her. In PE when she would spend time talking to the teacher who stayed in the locker room with us and asking her how her day was. I wondered how many people asked her that per day and I figured that Rhiannon was one of the few.
Thank God for people like her.
Kelly Monthie, classmate
. . . we went over to the park to watch Rhiannon do her Jujitsu demonstration. I must say it was a pretty cool show and I'll never forget how much fun it was watching it.
Zack Anderson, friend of Bryan's
Rhiannon lived life to the fullest and is an inspiration to us all. The thing that I admired most about her is that she had no fear to express her love, her feelings and she never held back! If she wanted to do something she did it! If she wanted to say something she said it! My favorite memory of Rhiannon was how loving and caring she was. When she was my neighbor she used to always pick me flowers. This past summer her Grandma brought her over to bring me flowers. They were purple Cala Lilys. It reminded me of when she was little and she would pick me dandelions or whatever "pretty" flowers she could find me.
Robin Carnahan, Family Friend, Old Neighbor and Adopted Aunt
There are so many, but I think that my favorite was on Christmas this year. Bryan bought her a game and I can't recall the name, but I went into her room and asked her to teach me how to play so she did. She went first and won because that is the way that it works out in that game, but because I lost she let me go first the next time. She had received her favorite song, "Rhiannon" from her Dad and she would smile everytime that (she) heard her name.
Kirsten Miller, Rhiannon's cousin
Rhiannon was one of the kindest people I've ever known in the world.
John Pollet, best friend