Angels Among Us


I think everyone would agree that the world we live in today is fraught with tension and toxicity and the airing of everyone’s dirty laundry. It can be hard to remember sometimes that there are genuinely good people in this world, and that some good can come from almost any situation. I truly believe that there are some people in this world who are sent into your life by a higher power to help you with or through something. I count very few people in this category, not to slight in any way the many good people I know.

Today I spent a couple of hours with one of the people in my life that is a true angel. Some of you know from a previous post (which you can read here) that I lost a sister in a terrible accident. It was undoubtedly the darkest situation of my life, but out of the pain and grief of that horrible day came an unexpected gift.

Jen is a Captain in the sheriff’s department and was the first to respond to the scene of my sister’s accident. She was the one that first saw my sister and the one who tried so desperately to save her life. Sadly, there was nothing that could be done and my sister died at the scene. For most first responders, this is where their involvement ends. But not with Jen. Jen personally delivered the death notification to my mother, and attended my sister’s viewing. In the blur of pain of those first days, she gave her card to each of us and offered any assistance she could give.

By this point she had already gone above and beyond her duty, and most of my family never spoke to her again. I, however, was really struggling with all of the wild scenarios my mind was creating as I imagined what my sister must have gone through and I knew I needed answers if I was ever going to be able to move on. I called Jen, and told her I had to know the details of the accident and aftermath and she passed no judgement. She answered every question bluntly and honestly, and as a blunt and logical person myself it was exactly what I needed. As painful as some of the information was, it was better than constantly wondering and imagining. It enabled me to begin the process of moving on, and I was so grateful to her for that.

Still, we remained in touch, albeit barely. For the next eight years on the anniversary of my sister’s death, I would receive a text from Jen telling me she was thinking of our family and asking how I was. Words cannot describe how much these texts have meant to me. To know that she remembered and cared was so incredible to me, especially in light of how many accidents she responds to, and it made me feel like my sister was not forgotten. I live in Cincinnati, but always told Jen we’d get together when I came to Salt Lake.

Well, landing in Salt Lake yesterday was the first time I’ve been back since my sister died. As agreed, Jen met me for coffee and I brought along my sister Jenny. We spent the next two and a half hours talking, about everything from my sister to Jen’s career and family to her new dog. I got to know her to a new depth, and can say without reserve that she is one of the most remarkable people I’ve ever known. Her behavior toward my family and I after my sister died is not unique of her, and is simply part of her character. She brings a humanity and dignity to her work that makes me so grateful that she was the one with my sister as she passed.

I know now that Jen will be a cherished friend for the rest of my life. My sister Jenny and I agreed to visit her at her home the next time I’m in town so we can enjoy a glass of wine and meet her loved ones. I can’t wait.

If you had told me right after the accident that any good would come from my sister’s death, I would have flatly denied the possibility. But out of that tragedy I’ve had the privilege to meet Jen, who is truly the salt of the earth. I thank God for her and what she has done for me, and for what she did for my baby sister. She told me today something I never knew…that when she realized my sister was beyond hope, she simply held her hand and promised she’d take care of her family.

And so she has.

I would love to hear any of your stories of people who have touched your life, so please share them if you feel comfortable doing so. Thank you so much for reading!


13 Comments Write a comment


  • Jennifer | Contentment Questing February 6, 2018

    What a beautiful story! I am so sorry for the loss of your sister but so very glad that you were able to find such a dear friend. That was incredibly personal, and I’m sure hard to write, but thank you for sharing that very moving story!

    • February 6, 2018

      Aw, thank you for your sweet comment and for taking the time to read the post. It took a lot of years to be able to write about my sister, but I’m grateful that I’m in a place now where I can see the blessings that come even in the darkest tragedies. Thanks again for reading!

  • Feuza February 6, 2018

    Hi Heather, what a beautiful post. I have 3 sisters and can’t imagine losing one of them. I did lose my half brother this past year and still trying to go through the notions and understand a few things and to forgive myself for not being there for him. This is great that you wrote about Jen and have kept that friendship. That is pretty amazing what she has done since she must see this a few times as an officer. Hugs to you.

    • February 6, 2018

      Oh, thank you so much for your lovely comment. I’m sorry about your half brother…I know how hard survivors guilt can be. Cherish your sisters and don’t forget to love your life! Hugs right back to you!

  • Kelly February 6, 2018

    I just started crying a little😂

    • February 6, 2018

      Aww…thanks for taking the time to read it! And definitely, Jen is a rare and beautiful person!

  • Kelly February 5, 2018

    What an absolutely beautiful human being. So glad you found someone in such a difficult time

  • Sarah Tapley February 5, 2018

    Jen sounds like an absolutely amazing person and I am so glad she was the one with Rachel when she passed. You have found an angel for sure.

    • February 6, 2018

      It was so amazing to finally meet her. I’m so glad I did!

  • Emily February 5, 2018

    This is so beautiful. It is a true blessing to have someone like this in your life. Thank you for writing this personal and touching piece.

    • February 6, 2018

      Oh, thank you so much. I really appreciate you taking the time to read it!

  • Stephanie February 5, 2018

    Wow, what a beautiful story of how something lovely can come from grief. It sounds like your friend Jen was supposed to be there on the day your sister passed.

    • February 6, 2018

      Thank you so much for reading! Jen is truly an incredible person.

Leave a Reply