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Guest Column

The Oceanside community was there when I needed them most

Oceanside resident Kaitlin Geraghty left, seen here with her mother, Rachel, at her Oceanside High School graduation in 2014, died of unknown causes on Dec. 19. She was 22.
Oceanside resident Kaitlin Geraghty left, seen here with her mother, Rachel, at her Oceanside High School graduation in 2014, died of unknown causes on Dec. 19. She was 22.
Courtesy Rachel Geraghty

Editor’s note: The following is an editorial from Oceanside resident Rachel Geraghty, whose daughter, Kaitlin, died of unknown causes on Dec. 19 at 22. Kaitlin’s story was shared on the front page of the Jan. 17-23 edition of the Oceanside/Island Park Herald.

This will be one of the hardest things I have ever had to write, however I feel this story must be told. My beautiful, amazing daughter Kaitlin Ann Geraghty was taken to from us on Dec. 19. 

It was a phone call no parent ever wants to receive. The cold, callous detective that called me very matter-of-factly was telling me that my heart, my soul, my reason for walking this earth had died. I do not even remember driving home that night. I sat in the parking lot of CVS in Baldwin thinking that it was one of those phone scams. “This is not real,” I thought.

Unfortunately, it was.

The last few weeks have been filled with anger, rage, depression, anxiety and panic attacks, but most of all love from people from every part of Kaitlin’s life and mine. People would constantly tease me about our relationship. I was often told that I gave her too much or that I was too close to her and her friends, that I should have been more of an authority figure. Well I am so very glad I did not listen. We were and still are best friends. She was the reason I lived and breathed, and still is. Everything in my life was done to give her a better life. And I vow that in her memory, I will continue to do all that I can to live out her legacy.

Kaitlin was a law student at Washington College of Law at American University, in Washington, D.C., and worked as a hospitality agent at Sonder, a company similar to Airbnb that rents rooms. On May 20, 2018, she graduated from Boston University with a degree in political science. During her undergraduate career, she was involved in countless clubs, activities, and internships, including employment by U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and spoke during commencement alongside civil rights leader and U.S. Representative of Georgia, John Lewis and Carmen Yulín Cruz Soto, the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico. She was very involved, and stayed busy, trying to fulfill the lives of others. She was not afraid of a challenge.

Kaitlin graduated from Oceanside High School in 2014 with an Advanced Regents diploma with honors. She was the recipient of the Johnny Russell Memorial and Oceanside Kiwanettes scholarships. She was involved in many clubs and participated in various charity events for Oceanside Kiwanis.

In addition to the profound accomplishments she achieved in high school and college, Kaitlin had a tremendous passion for traveling, visiting places like Spain, Ireland, Australia, Paris, London and New Zealand.

Kaitlin was extremely passionate and dedicated to helping people with physical and mental disabilities and marginalized groups. Her dream was to make the world a better place for all and her ultimate goal was to advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves. She was caring, witty, and sassy. She loved sitcoms like “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation,” comedian John Mulaney, Buddy the Elf, Starbucks, “The Grinch,” “Saturday Night Live,” and was a Harry Potter fanatic.

Now, here comes the hard part. I have no words to express my gratitude to our community as well as my family and friends, students, employers, and co-workers who have helped me remember my sweet angel.

Within a few hours of the horrifying news, Amy Dagger from Towers Funeral Home was at my door. All of the people at Towers bestowed upon me the most amazing love, patience, and understanding. When I never thought I could survive this, they made it so much less painful.

My amazing family from Century 21 American Homes immediately set up a website for our Heart of American Homes Foundation to help me mentally and financially. I am so very blessed to work at such a family-orientated, amazing company. My co-workers would always make Kaitlin feel welcomed when she filled in at the front desk.

I am a single mom who has worked three jobs. I’ve been a county crossing guard for 21 years, a teaching assistant in Long Beach Public Schools for 17 years and a realtor for 16 years. Although my life is quite busy, I adore each and every one of my co-workers at all of my jobs. The West School, my fellow crossing guards, police officers from the Fourth Precinct, my friends at School No. 3, the Oceanside Kiwanettes and Ladies Auxiliary of the Knights of Columbus have all been simply amazing. The Oceanside School District is graciously allowing me to present a scholarship in Kaitlin‘s name each year to a graduating student. The love that I am feeling is overwhelming.

I cannot begin to even cover the selfless, amazing love I have felt from my family and friends. Kaitlin’s friends, who I also consider my children, are devastated, yet they have been so strong for me. I love each and every one of them with all of my heart. My beautiful mother has taught me to be strong, and her resilience inspires me. My brother- and sister-in-law, nieces, nephews, cousins, aunts and many other family members are beyond supportive and I adore them all. I feel so lucky to live in such an amazing community. Thank you for letting me share my angel’s story with you.

I would like to end this with one of Kaitlin’s favorite quotes, “In a world where you can be anything, choose to be kind”