In a strange, bittersweet twist of fate, a college-bound teen has completed the bucket list she wrote for herself almost three years ago.
In December 2012, a 17-year-old Rebecca Townsend wrote a letter to her future self, as part of a high school assignment. In it, she detailed a three-item bucket list:
“Kiss in the rain.”
“Fly to Spain.”
“Save a life (not really scary though).”
Townsend had already completed the first two—she’d visited Spain with her parents, and shared a kiss in the rain with her boyfriend, Niko. But she likely did not expect to do the last one anytime soon, if ever.
Last night, Heaven gained an angel with the sweetest spirit and the cutest smile. Becca, you are truly wonderful and you'll be dearly missed. I'll miss the way you made me laugh, and the way you always danced around for no reason at all. I am so glad to have known you and so happy I am able to call you my good friend. I love ya Bex????
The very act that ended Townsend’s young life also completed her bucket list. She and friends were returning from a local fireworks show on the night of July 2nd, when a car came barreling towards them. Townsend pushed 17-year-old Benjamin Arne out of harm’s way, taking the impact of the vehicle herself.
“The last thing I remember is Rebecca pushing me and telling me to hurry up.”
Arne was hospitalized in serious but stable condition. Townsend’s sisters, Victoria and Monica, found the bucket list on her bed soon after she died. Monica mentioned the bucket list in her eulogy:
“Who knows why Rebecca was looking at that letter the night she left us … but I think it’s her little way of telling us she is OK; she accomplished what she needed to; she made it.”
Townsend was an excellent student, and founder of a local chapter of She’s The First, a charity which sponsors education for girls in third world countries. She was also the beloved youngest sister, the family’s “bonus baby.”
Townsend’s story and bucket-list have gone viral, starting a #RememberingRebecca hashtag. Under the new global hashtag, people have posted photos of themselves paying for someone else’s yoga class or Starbucks order, in Townsend’s honor.
There's even been a blood drive set up in her memory:
The Notre Dame class of 2019, which Townsend would have been a part of, has started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for She’s The First, continuing Townsend’s legacy.
Townsend’s photos are being shared everywhere, keeping her memory alive.
A video tribute from Rebecca's cousin, @ellabella_telanovelas_ #rememberingrebecca: This is my baby cousin Rebecca Townsend, on July 2nd her beautiful life was cut short when she was crossing the road in Danbury, CT to see the fireworks. She was only 17 but she was so sweet, and kind, hard working, caring, loving, fun and funny. She had her whole life ahead of her, she was to attend Notre Dame in the fall. She started a chapter of the non-profit She's The First that helps girls attend higher education who wouldn't otherwise be able to. I'm so proud to call Becca my cousin. I've always looked up to her. When she was in middle school and I was in college she was teaching me SAT words AND giving me fashion advice. She has two sisters and 20 cousins who miss her dearly, not to mention her parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and more friends than anyone I've ever met. Check out the Immaculate High School website and donate to her mission. This angel is looking down on all of us helping us to be better humans. So much love to you and everyone who cares for you. We miss you. XX OO ??????
This is a double-edged sword for her grieving family. As her sister Victoria explains:
“We miss her a lot. We’re really happy she’s inspiring people, but it’s really hard seeing her face everywhere. We just want her back.”
Banner photo credit: Instagram/rememberingrebecca