This saddens me to sit here and write this. My name is Ashley Mazalewski. My sister, Rachel Gardner passed away suddenly June,4,2017. She was my older sister. The one I ran to when I was scared to go to my mom. The one who taught me to dance (she was my inspiration for dancing), how to love, and how to be a mother to my child. She even saved me when I was 5 years old from the scary Easter bunny shadow(LOL). My sister my brother and I grew up together. We have so many memories with one another that as I sit here they all are coming to light and they are the memories that I will cherish in my heart forever. My sister and I had so many plans together and we never got to accomplish most of those. I sit here today trying to understand but I can’t seem to understand why. She left behind my two beautiful, strong, amazing nieces Destiny and Cassidy.
Rachel was born in Melbourne, Florida December 12th,1985. She was a brown eyed brown-haired bombshell. She was raised and stayed in Melbourne for her whole life. Rachel was a loving, caring, charismatic, outgoing child. She loved to spend time with her family and loved babysitting me (I THINK LOL). When Rachel turned 16 and she got her first car, it was baby blue with sparkles. Her favorite color is baby blue she was obsessed with anything baby blue. I thought she was the coolest big sis, she would drive me to wherever I wanted to go and we would drive around sings songs and just be free spirited young girls. Rachel graduated high school and fell in love. This time it is 2005, She gives birth to a beautiful brown eyed, brown-haired baby girl Destiny. We loved her so much and so did her mommy. 11 months later she gave birth to a beautiful blonde-haired, blue-eyed baby girl Cassidy. I looked up to my sister, her being a young mom, being able to stay home every day and take care of those babies is something she loved. She loved to cook dinner every night and to just spend time and make memories with them.
Years go by and Rachel finds out she is pregnant again with her 3rd child, Rihanna. My sister wasn’t feeling to well for a few days so I decided to come lay with her in her bed. October 9,2007 at 2 in the morning I wake up to my sister screaming saying sis wake u wake up I’m bleeding everywhere call 911. I call 911 and they take my sister away. I am stuck at home with the two girls we all lay in bed as my sister is taken away to the hospital. The day comes around and Rachel had complications she almost died from losing so much blood, so they airlifted her to Arnold palmer hospital in Orlando. Then she gave birth to a 12 0z. baby girl Rihanna Nicole. Rihanna was 6 months pre-mature. She was the size of my hand full length. We did not know if Rihanna would survive or what was going to happen. Rachel was at Arnold palmer for weeks after weeks, finding out problems after problems Rihanna would have for the rest of her life. She had a hole in her heart, she had eye problems, she had brain problems, and medical problem after medical problems because of how early term of a baby she was. I don’t remember all the exact medical terms for what Rihanna had but it was a lot. We were told she would never speak, never walk, never really be able to do anything at all.
Rihanna was finally able to come home. Rachel was given instructions on proper care. I remember Rihanna had a machine attached to her heart and every time she would stop breathing that machine would beep so loud I could hear it outside. It was a scary thing as I was only 16 years old at this point in time.
Fast forward a few years later. After many surgeries and medical procedures, doctor visits, and a lot of scary feelings. Rachel felt as if she could not give Rihanna the life she needed and the care she needed. Rachel was told surgeries for Rihanna where going to be in the hundreds of thousands. At this point Rachel felt the best thing to do was to adopt Rihanna to someone who could do the best they could for her, and give her a normal life. She did just that. Rihanna was adopted out to a loving nurse in the Melbourne area, one that could give Rihanna what she needed.
After all this happened. Rachel went spiraling down. Her anxiety was to an all-time high. Her depression got the best of her. She was still taking care of her girls, but she was not caring for herself. Time goes by and she just could not get over the heart break of her doing what was best for Rihanna. What she did for Rihanna was the best thing a mother could ever do. A mother that knew she could not give that baby a life to be normal, she was so selfless that she did that for her. Today I am so happy to say that Rihanna is a normal 9-year-old young woman. Which is honestly a huge surprise, but an amazing surprise. That hit Rachel so hard. When Rachel saw Rihanna getting what she needed to be able to walk, being able to talk, getting the surgery she needed for her eyes, everything that she couldn’t do for her baby girl. It broke my sister in half.
My sister was the most broken young women I have ever met. She never got the right care for what she went through and it took her life. I feel that when my sister gave her child up, for her child to have a better life is when my sister died inside. My sister has never been the same since that has happened. She has left this world and blessed us with her two beautiful girls. These girls have been through so much since they lost their sister, that they have taught me to be the strongest women I could be. My mother and I have helped my sister for years raise these two little girls who I see as my own now. I will forever be great full that my sister knows I will care for her girls as I care for my own.
Rachel’s passing was accidental. In which everyone knows it takes time to find out what exactly was the cause of her death. I will be sure to keep all family and friends updated. As I sit her today and write this out for all our family and friends to read I want you all to know what I am wanting to raise money for.
I am raising money for our family. This was a very unexpected death. My mother is in the middle of closing on a house this week. I am now a single mom with two new daughters in my life today. The help for the funds we receive will be going toward all funeral expenses for my sister. As well as for these two girls. They need all new clothes for school as they both are growing up super-fast. Just stuff in general that they need. We need to get them all new school supplies for this new school year. They have needs that we need to fulfill as a family. These girls have had a very rough last few years as a lot of our family knows so I also want to use these donations to bring the girls to do something fun. Something that will make them smile ear to ear. A memory that they can cherish forever with myself and my family.
I want to thank everyone for reaching out to our family in this time of need. Our phones have not stopped ringing. I wished Rachel could see how many people she has brought together. Some of you I have not spoken to or seen in years. This is what life is all about. Celebrating and loving your loved ones. I really wish anyone and everyone who has not told there loved one today that you love them please tell them. I am happy that the last time I was with my sister I gave her the biggest hug and told her I loved her as I did every time I spoke to her. I will make sure to keep everyone updated on everything and If ANY of you have ANY questions what so ever please feel free to contact me whenever! I am always here. Thank you all so much. I deeply appreciate any help these girls, and my family can get.
All of us Christmas 2009
Rachel breaking it down at lidas wedding!
Rach and Rihanna.
- Stacy Carlson
- Lysee Kierstein
- Jake Carter
- Kim Wolff
- Nick & Elaine Schultz
#1 fundraising platform
More people start fundraisers on GoFundMe than on any other platform. Learn more
Expert advice, 24/7
Contact us with your questions and we’ll answer, day or night. Learn more