Friday, February 5, 2010

Remembering Rachel

My friend Dr. Rachel Gilligan died at the age of 45 just the other day. The initial report is that the stress of legal charges pending against her which had something to do with substance abuse allegations shocked me because no one was less likely to be in trouble with the law than Rachel. She was a Mobile Veterinarian, an incredibly competent and compassionate woman, a high-level well-educated professional and a well-respected active member of the community. Rachel was the long-time love of Lee Nigel Godden, drummer for the Bill Grisolia Band (the eponymous ongoing musical project of my former fiance and lifelong friend) and the innermost of the innermost inner circle we ran with in LBC during the 2002-2007 era known as the Golden Age of  Long Beach.
What am I remembering about Rachel today? First, the way her hands looked while examining my dog Sammy, a tiny Shih Tzu in medical distress - competent, cool, calm, careful, deliberate and effective. She showed up at my home minutes after receiving a tearful late-night call from me and upon more than one occasion took care of injuries, diseases and other maladies. It was in her arms our cat died after a horrible accident, it was her mobile med kit (locked and double-locked, always securely stored) that comforted and cured. 
I wonder now how much that mobile med kit had to do with any other problems she may have been having. I remember seeing her overwhelmed by caring for others and almost too exhausted to care for herself. I remember partying with her and the rest of the band members and their significant others - me and Bill, Lee and Rachel, Chap and Julie...and upon occasion, Rachel moving in and out of consciousness quickly and unexpectedly, almost as if she was seizing from a single glass of wine. Lee would caretake. The show must go on.
Feeling the sadness of knowing a great light has left this world. Her luminosity was always extraordinary, her ability to rise from exhaustion and carry on like a radiant queen, the goddess of healing, the vessel of boundless compassion ... did that weaken her heart, did it give way in the end because she gave it all to everyone else, all the time, without saving anything for herself?
Remembering Rachel.


  1. I remember Rachel from vet school at Cornell, lively, intelligent, talented. I ran into her a few years ago in Long Beach, and regret now that I didn't try harder to renew a friendship. May she be in heaven with all whom she has loved (both two- and four-footed) who have gone before her.

  2. Do you know what she died of? I cannot find an obit here in Ca or NY....I am frustrated at trying to find it....Friends and I worked with her....and want closure....Sincerely Sue Zeaken

  3. Hi I and friends worked with Dr Rachel Gilligan and we cannot find an obituary, we wanted to know the cause of death, auto accident, illness??? Please for out closure do you know? or anyone who would know? Thank you very much, Sincerely Sue Zeaken

  4. Rachel was a dear light in my life although always very troubles underneath. I just learned of her death today, althugh I had been trying to reach her off an on since she told me she was heading back east last year. I am so saddened by the loss of this woman whohelped save me at one time and who brought both laughter and tears to me....tears today. Does anyone know what really happened as I cannot find much online?

  5. Kristen Griffin Rinaldi sent me the following message through Facebook:

    "Lorelai, Rachel passed away from a severe trauma to the head. She lost her footing and severely hit her head against a cast iron stove. She was unable to awaken from the concussion in time to come to. Thats when and exactly how she passed to the other side. The coroners report confirms this. There was no trace of drugs nor alcohol in her system upon examination. Would you be kind enough to correct this on your blogspot. Many many would be most grateful, including Rae herself whom I contacted thru a medium who claims Rachel is disturbed by the disinformation floating about. I thank you I left you my contact information as well. Namaste."