Sara was born at 10:32 am, March 3, 1981 at Henrico Doctor’s Hospital in Richmond, Va. Doctor Nathan Rabhan was the obstetrician. She was due on February 20, so she was 11 days late. She weighed 9 lbs 3 ¾ oz and was 21 inches long. She had a little hair, but not much. Her older sister, Elizabeth, 5 years old, welcomed her home 2 days later. From what I remember, she was a fairly quiet baby. One of her favorite toys was a blue bunny that played music. She also liked playing with the “other baby” in the mirror.
Sara was easy going from the beginning, a trait that continued her whole life. Elizabeth was kind of hyperactive, and Sara was almost the opposite. She didn’t learn to walk until she was 13 months old. However, once she learned to walk, she never stopped. At about 1 year old, she had nice head of blond curls. Elizabeth always had very curly hair, but Sara’s was just wavy but very fine, until she hit the teenage years. Then her hair became very curly and very thick. I kept her hair long in elementary school, because it was easier and much cuter, especially in pigtails, (which she liked wearing even in high school.)
Her first years were fairly uneventful. She was 19 months old when little brother John Daniel joined our family. In some ways, she and Daniel grew up together. Even though she was only a little older than Daniel, she tried to look out for him and keep him out of trouble. She always tried to take care of everyone she cared about.
Sara attended Washington-Henry Elementary School in Mechanicsville, VA from kindergarten to 5th grade. Then she attended Chickahominy Middle School from 6th to 8th grades. She graduated from Atlee High School June 16, 1999. She always got along well with other kids and especially her teachers. When she was about 14-15 years old, she said the reason all of her teachers liked her so much was that she was “a good suck-up”. Although she had varied interests and tried different things, like art and photography; her favorite class at Atlee was horticulture with Mrs. Mona Ray. I understand she would go to her classroom whenever she had a break. Mrs. Ray said she had a real talent for floral design and especially for making bows. She won or came in second in several of the competitions for Floral Design. Her goal was to open a floral shop; she really wanted to go into business with Mrs. Ray. She was also adventuress; she got a butterfly tattoo when she was 18. I noticed it a couple weeks later and when I asked if it was real, she just grinned. After she was killed, I got one too, in her honor. I wish I had a picture of hers. In fact, several family members have gotten a butterfly tattoo in remembrance of Sara. I found out after she died that she had even had her tongue pierced, but only for a couple days. She worked at a shop in the Virginia Center Commons that sold jewelry and other things that most teen age girls want. Whenever anyone new was hired and had to learn how to pierce ears, Sara was the guinea pig by her own choice. I know she had at least 8-10 holes in each ear, maybe more.
Her love of animals was evident very early. She especially loved cats. She also had two hamsters about 6 months apart that met with disaster while she was away. She was convinced that her hamsters were the victims of foul play. Unfortunately, each one did meet with an untimely demise at the paws of a great feline hunter. She was always heartbroken when something happened to any of the pets.
I think the first cat she claimed as hers alone was Precious. Precious was a solid white female with fluffy fur and two blue eyes. Precious and Cleo, her twin sister, were inseparable. Unfortunately, we discovered that solid white cats with two blue eyes tend to be deaf. This was the case with Precious. Cleo was also solid white, but she had one green eye and one gold eye, so she was okay. I think Cleo tried to look after Precious. After Precious died, Sara talked constantly about getting another kitten. She was very resourceful when she had something in mind that she wanted. For her graduation present, she said the only thing she wanted was a kitten. She had been helping clean out horse stalls in exchange for being able to ride. About the middle of May, she brought home a little gray, black and white tabby bundle of fur; a barn kitty. It took her a couple of days to name him, but because he was such a rascal when he played, that became his name. Rascal now lives with me and weighs 19 lbs. He is an indoor only cat, just as Sara wished. And of course, he is spoiled.
When Sara was about 15, she wanted to go to Mexico on a Work and Witness trip. Her father wouldn’t sign the papers for her to go, but because I had sole custody and I signed a release stating the fact, she was finally able to go with another woman from our church. They left right after Christmas and were gone a week. She had a great time. Sara loved to shop and she really liked shoes; she brought home 2 pair from Mexico and of course, a sombrero. Sara also loved to sing. She sang in church and in youth talent contests and always did very well. I only have one recording of her singing, although I know there were several times that her songs were taped. I wish I had those other tapes, but I don’t have them and I haven’t been able to find anyone else that does. She had a sweet voice and loved to sing. In church she liked to sing Kathy Trocolli and Jaci Valasquez songs especially. She was always singing with the radio in the car.
Another of her passions was the beach. She started going to Virginia Beach as soon as she had a car and could drive. Anytime she was able to go and could find a friend to go with her, she was on her way. The day she was killed, she was coming back from a day at the beach with 2 of her friends. That was probably her 5th or 6th trip that summer.
Sara was always helping other people. I used to have her do my grocery shopping for me. She also shopped for her grandmother (my mom). She sometimes would get upset if someone else did the shopping for Grandma; it was HER job. When her grandmom was too sick to be left alone, Sara would stay with her at night too. Sara loved her family and doted on her niece, Shiloh. She would buy her clothes and things whenever she could. Before getting a “regular” job, she babysat for people at church and a couple of my friends. The kids loved her. She was always helping her friends by taking them to where they needed to go. Several of her friends have come to me and told me that Sara was their best friend. She was very special to a lot of people.
There was one person to whom Sara was very special, her boyfriend, Chris. They were together 2+ years. Their anniversary was February 14th, and Sara celebrated the 14th of every month. She loved him with all her heart and was inconsolable if they ever had a disagreement. She planned to spend the rest of her life with him. Unfortunately, that ended up being way too short. She loved his whole family and thought of them as her own. She would also bring her friends home and would introduce me to them as “Mom”, and that’s what she told them to call me. I didn’t mind.
Sara was shot and killed on August 8, 1999, on Interstate 64 coming back from Virginia Beach. There was a car that had been following them very closely and then getting in front of them and slowing down until Sara passed him, then doing the same thing all over again. Finally, he pulled up on the right side of the car (a rental, her car was in the shop from a fender bender the week before) and fired a gun into the car. Sara was killed instantly with a bullet to the head. Her passengers were not seriously injured. She loved cats, horses, flowers, (especially deep purple roses and stargazer lilies), butterflies, Jesus, her family and her friends, not necessarily in that order. Sara Anne Bruehl was not perfect, she was just Sara. We all miss her greatly.
Written by: Chris Bruehl