A year ago today, I was getting ready for the every fabulous Girl Next Door Show, this time to be held at my house. I was busy rushing around, cleaning, and finishing last minute items for the show. My sweet sister Ally was home from her mission and taking care of Levi, and they were off at Costco running some errands.
The phone rang. It was Chad, and I quickly started asking him when he thought he would be home, and when I paused from talking I could tell something was wrong. I panicked.... Tell, me what is wrong!
My little sister Leah had passed away.
I screamed out, I asked if he was sure of what he was telling me, I told him I didn't know what to do and I fell to the floor. I have never felt such a piercing pain, I really had no idea how to react. He told me he was on his way to pick me up and take me to my family. Within a few minutes, Ally got home from Costco, I ran outside and told her in the driveway where we hugged and cried and cried.
After that, everything was a bit of a blur, it was time to get things done. Leah deserved the best and most beautiful funeral ever, her children needed to be taken care of, and we all stood strong as a family to make sure Leah would be remembered as the beautiful amazing person she was.
I went with my sisters, Mom, Aunt Lisa, and Leah's lifelong friend Katie to help dress Leah and prepare her for the viewing. At first, I didn't think I could make it, I couldn't breathe or speak, but Heavenly Father helped me through and we were able to be with our Lee Lee's body and make sure she was beautiful. (Even though we all agreed she wouldn't like what we dressed her in)
Oh how I miss Leah.
There hasn't been a day that I haven't thought of her or been reminded of her in someway. One day snoop dog was playing on the radio which reminded me of Leah and the silly rap songs she liked and I started crying for the next hour, then I laughed and thought, "Am I really crying because of Snoop Dog???" I have a list of things to do from November 2011 that sits on my desk, and one of the items says, "Visit Leah." I can't seem to get rid of it.
I have been with her children on countless occasions which are such a special reminder of my sister. There laugh, smiles, eyes, and are sweet hearts are just like their Mom.
I still feel like a piece of me is missing. The piece that shared a bunk bed with me, that listened to dominican music with me, that did crafts with me, that took care of my kids, that would give me anything or do anything for me is gone and I miss her desperately.
I am so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father and Savior who have made it possible for me to be with my sister again. I still hurt, I still cry, but I know that she is near and that she is busy taking care of everyone as she always has.
I love you Lee Lee Doo.
Here are the words I said at the funeral:
My dad is the king of nicknames. If you know my father, you probably have a nickname. I was supposedly a grouchy little toddler and tended to growl at people I didn’t like so my dad started calling me “bear” which eventually turned into Bennie Bear and now sometimes I'm just “The Bear” or “Bear Woman.” Well, Dad seemed to pass on this love of nicknames and stuff to me and I rarely call my family by there real name. Dad started calling Leah “Lee Lee” and somewhere along the line I added “Doo” So for me Leah will always be Lee Lee Doo. I can’t remember the last time I ever actually just called her Leah. When I saw her for the last time on Thanksgiving after not seeing her for a while I gave her a big hug and I said “I missed you Lee Lee Doo” and she said, “I missed you too Bennie Bear.”
Lee Lee and me always shared a room. It was a room with pink flowered wallpaper and bunk beds. I had the top bunk and Leah had the bottom bunk. We both loved to annoy each other. Sometimes at night I would just start wiggling back and forth and back and forth and Leah would get so mad, and I just thought it was hilarious. Finally she started to get back at me and would lightly tap with a pencil just under where my head was and just enough to make me absolutely crazy. Sometimes we would spend a whole Saturday organizing our room because we thought it was fun and sometimes we would sit next to the radio and wait for our favorite song to come on so we could push record on the cassette tapes.
One time I was reading my book nicely on the bottom bunk minding my own business when Lee Lee and Amber came in and start jumping on the top bunk. Well, the bed must not have been too sturdy because the wood board that held up the top bunk came crashing down on top of me along with the mattress and my two sisters. You would think they would quickly get off and get me out of there, but instead they sat there crushing me while they discussed their plan of action. Amber said we can’t get up because Jennie will tell and then we will be in trouble and Leah said well how about we make her promise not to tell and then we’ll call 911. They agreed on Leah’s plan and I promised not to tell so they jumped off and got me out of there with my bloody face and all and of course I quickly ran to tell mom and dad. I’m glad Leah was there and that she cared enough about me to know I needed help otherwise I may have been sitting there as a mattress sandwich for a lot longer.
Growing up on Patrick Lane in the desert, kind of in the middle of nowhere we had many adventures. One of our favorite things to do was have lemonade stands even though we rarely even had cars driving by. One hot summer day me and Lee Lee and some Shelton girls who are basically like more sisters decided it was a good day to sell some lemonade. We had things all set up and were doing well, we had a least sold a couple cups of lemonade. Everything was going fine until we noticed a homeless man walking up the street. We were absolutely terrified. We truly thought we were all going to die. Me and Katie and Emilee couldn’t even speak and I think I started hiding under the table. He came up to the lemonade stand and Leah stood up and handed him a glass of lemonade. We all stayed real quiet until he was far enough away. Finally Leah said, I don’t know what the problem is you guys, he was just thirsty. We stood there for a minute more and then we all started sprinting back to the Shelton’s house screaming and Leah finally followed.
Leah giving the homeless man the lemonade was something that describes Leah’s personality exactly. Leah gave and gave and gave and gave some more. Leah’s heart was bigger and kinder and more loving than anyone I have ever known. I think a lot of the time she got herself in trouble because she cared so much and wanted so much to take care of everyone and save people and be there for those who needed her.
Another time on Patrick Lane, something exciting was happening it was the grand opening of Smiths. Yes it was just a grocery store, but it was closer than any store had been to our house yet, and we were really really excited. My mom told me Amber and Leah that we could ride our bikes down to the ground opening. Which now looking back, it really wasn’t very close at all. We hopped on our bikes and went on our way. When we got to the hills, which were really abnormal crazy deep dangerous hills on Jones. Well when we got there I stopped. Amber and Leah said come on Jennie let’s go. I said mom must have forgotten to tell us not to ride our bikes on the hills, they are too dangerous. I started listing all of the things that could happen and how other cars couldn’t see us from the other side and how it would be too fast, I was being very logical… I took my role as a worrier very seriously. As I was talking and talking , and the next thing I knew, off Amber went down the hills as fast as she could, but then again I wasn’t too surprised. I walked over to the side in the dirt and started walking my bike and I told Leah she could go with Amber and I would meet them at Smiths. Leah said if you are scared to go down the hills you are probably scared to walk alone too, so I’ll walk with you.
Lee lee was always there for me, always there for her friends and so unbelieveably loyal.
Leah and I went to high school together and I loved having a sister at school with me. For my junior and senior year I drove us to school everyday. We would crank up our music so loud and dance and dance, it’s amazing we can still hear. When I was a senior in high school I was nominated for homecoming queen. I was excited but didn’t think there was anyway I would win. I didn’t find this out until later but my sweet sister would spend her lunches and breaks between classes getting freshmen and sophomores and other people she didn’t even know to go vote for me. Voting was optional so she would walk them to vote and make sure they went inside. If she found people who weren’t voting she would say yes you are going to vote and you are going to vote for my sister. Leah was so good to me. I ended up winning and I looked in the stands and saw all of my sisters together screaming at the top of there lungs and cheering me on, and Leah in her silent way had a lot to do with it.
Leah loved making others happy Leah loved making jokes, Leah loved laughing. During family prayer, at least half of the time Lee Lee got the giggles, which made all of us get the giggles and them we couldn’t stop laughing long enough to finish the prayer.
Leah would often tease me about my toes. I’ll admit I have weird toes. My big toe is huge compared to my other toes. If I was ever trying to be serious, or if I was in a bad mood she would draw my toes in the air, by doing a big hump and then a bunch of little ones, and I couldn’t help but smile or laugh.
Leah was an amazing mother, she cared more about her children than anything else in the world. Leah was always meant to be a mother. When I had my daughter, she knew much more about what to do than I did. When she would take care of my children before she even had children of her own, she would have a craft ready, buy them a new toy, take them for a treat and play fun games with them, they never wanted to leave aunt Lee Lee’s. She had a gentle touch, she was a nurturer from the time she was little. She loved her children. Caleb and Olivia were Leah’s pride and joy and for these last few years the only thing that brought her real happiness. I took Olivia out shopping for a dress for today and all she wanted to do was get something for her best friend and cousin Kate. She said I just need to get something, I have to. I told her Olivia this is a special day for you, Kate will be fine, we are just looking for something for you. She said no, I have to. I’m a giver, it’s just what I do. …. I knelt down by her and I said, Olivia you are a giver and that is amazing, I know someone else who is a giver just like you, do you know who it is? She said yes, my mom. I said you’re right. You're mom has a heart that is big and wonderful just like you.
I love my little sister, my Lee Lee Doo. I will miss her more than I can even put into words, but I know that I will see her again. This isn’t a hope, or just something our family says to be comforted, we actually know we will see her again.
Elder Nelson said:
"Mourning is one of the deepest expressions of pure love. It is a natural response in complete accord with divine commandment: “Thou shalt live together in love, insomuch that thou shalt weep for the loss of them that die.” (D&C 42:45.)Moreover, we can’t fully appreciate joyful reunions later without tearful separations now.”
I look forward to that reunion and I know it will happen.
Our Heavenly Father has promised. I know that God lives, I know he loves me, I know he loves Leah, and I know that we will all be together again as a family. This is the only reason that this can be at all bearable it’s we know that our Savior Jesus Christ died for us so that we can live with him again. I will miss her greatly, but I will live my life the best I can so I can be with her again. I promise I will be there for her children as if they were my own, and I will remind them of what an amazing mother they had. Thank you all for being here and supporting our family, we are so blessed. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Leah Dawn was born on February 11th 1981 at Sunrise Hospital in Las Vegas Nevada.
She was born early in the morning and that is why she has the middle name Dawn.
Leah was a beautiful baby and child with amazing big blue eyes.
Leah went to Marion Earl Elementary School and then to Sawyer Middle school where she was Student Body President and a cheerleader. She had many friends.
Leah graduated from Durango High School in 1999 where she played on the volleyball team and spent a lot of time hanging out with Ms. Busch in the bankers office.
After high school Leah went to Dallas Roberts Costmetology School in Provo Utah. – She graduated and was Redkin Utah Hair Dresser of the Year.
Leah moved back to Las Vegas and was a successful cosmetologist where she could make a lot of people laugh while doing there hair at the same time.
In 2002 Leah married Brian deBecker and became the step-mother to Brians adorable daughter Tiana.
Brian and Leah had two children
Caleb Alexander on May 7th 2003 and Olivia Lyn on January 12th, 2005
Leah gave birth to a baby boy named Bristol in 2009 and because of her selflessness, he was adopted by a wonderful family just after his birth.
Leah passed from this life on November 29th, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada.