Rosalie Master, wife, mother, and musician, passed on quietly in the early morning hours of March 11th 2015 into adulthood. She is thirty years old.
The day was March 11th, 1985. Mikhail Gorbachev was appointed de facto leader of the Soviet Union, while Mohamed Al-Fayed purchased the London-based department store company Harrods. Elsewhere, in Whittier California, Rosalie Munden was born.
Rosalie led a simple, fairly normal childhood in the town of Apple Valley. During her formative years she had several life defining moments. One of those moments was visiting Disneyland at the age of eight. Though her parents were going through a divorce at the time, and she got lost at one point while exploring the magic kingdom, it became a light in a time of confusion and sadness. Thus began a lifelong obsession that she would share with family and friends, and eventually pass down to her own children.
Music drew Rosalie in at an early age. She recalls playing around on her babysitter’s piano when she was in kindergarten. Another girl was taking lessons at the time, and she started exploring her lesson books, hungry for the music that was already brewing inside her. In fourth grade, Rosalie learned how to read the treble clef in band class. She played the flute. Music became a sixth sense to Rosalie and throughout her life. Between lessons, band, and choir Rosalie developed her skills focusing mainly on piano and voice. She has been a part of many musical ensembles from her early years as a Phat Cat Sw!nger to A Penny A Kiss, an Andrews Sisters tribute band.
Her love for music extends to musical theater. Rosalie is a self-branded Broadway geek and has seen many incredible shows from California to the New York Island. She recently saw her favorite show, Wicked, for the fifth time, and it’s estimated that through her lifetime she will see it at least a dozen more times. Not only does she love to watch, she loves to perform in shows, her favorite roles being Ado Annie from Oklahoma and Mayzie from Seussical the Musical. Both characters are flirtatious and vivacious, not unlike Rosalie.
Rosalie’s life would change forever when she was sixteen years old and met Michael Mastaler. Michael and Rosalie were in the same seminary class, but he wouldn’t formally introduce himself until she attended one of his baseball games. Rosalie was dating one of Michael’s teammates at the time but before long Michael would sweep her off her feet and they would be inseparable. The relationship ran its course and as most angst filled youthful romances go, it ended. They went their separate ways. Michael left to Tennessee to serve a two year mission and Rosalie ventured to New York to become a nanny.
Ever the adventurer, Rosalie thrived in New York. She met many friends, ate street meat, saw shows on Broadway, and explored to her hearts content. When the time came for her to return home to Apple Valley Rosalie wasn’t ready to give up her travels. She signed up for the International Language Program to teach English in Russia.
Things were not all smooth sailing, however. As Rosalie prepared to leave for Russia, Michael returned home from his mission. The two quickly rekindled their romance (in Hawaii no less) and decided that they wanted to make their relationship eternal. Resolutely, Rosalie left for Russia, knowing in her heart it was the right thing to do but missing him every step of her journey.
Her six months in Russia passed quickly as she taught the Russian children. She enjoyed many new cultural experiences, and her sun-kissed California skin somehow survived the coldest winter Moscow experienced in over eighty years, though ice was not her friend. She traveled across Europe visiting Estonia, Finland, Sweden, Germany, Denmark, Holland, and France. Her time in Russia both fulfilled and fueled her love of travel. Tolkien wrote that not all who wandered are lost and though she traveled the world her feet were firmly planted. (This is the part where I add that Rosalie met Melissa Marsden in Russia. Melissa had also left her beloved behind, and while they didn’t know it then, they were forging a friendship that would last a lifetime and beyond. Not only did they have a lot in common, Melissa was gorgeous and talented, so it was obvious to see why Rosalie would be drawn to her).
She returned to California and to her Michael and hours upon returning to the United States he would propose on one knee in her beloved Disneyland. On August 12th 2006 they were sealed for time and all eternity in the San Diego temple. Life couldn’t be more perfect.
Those early years of marriage were busy and happy. Rosalie took a job with the town of Apple Valley. She also started teaching private piano and voice lessons. Michael went through the Police Academy and began his career as an officer for the city of Rialto. She also participated in local musical theater. They bought a home and moved to Hesperia.
It wasn’t long before Rosalie and Michael wanted to start a family. After two years of hoping and praying Rosalie and Michael welcomed their first son, Hunter Michael to their family. As it turned out, marriage and motherhood would prove to be Rosalie’s greatest adventure. Rosalie quit her job for the town of Apple Valley in order to be a stay at home mother to Hunter, though she continued teaching music. Motherhood doesn’t come easy for anyone, but Rosalie embraced every challenge. She was so grateful for the opportunity to be a mother and rose to every challenge. She was then, and is now, her children’s greatest champion.
In January 2012 during a routine doctor’s visit to confirm the gender of their second child, Elle, Rosalie and Michael were devastated to learn that their daughter had Turner Syndrome, a chromosomal defect that would claim her life. Rosalie was told that the chances of Elle’s survival to birth were extremely slim. She was given the choice to terminate the pregnancy or to let Elle pass naturally. The choice was difficult. She asked herself if her baby was in pain, if she was at risk physically, if she would be able to cope emotionally. In an act of pure faith, Rosalie decided to give Elle every possible chance for life. To carry Elle until Father in Heaven decided to take her home. A few grueling weeks later an ultrasound revealed that Elle had passed, and on January 31st 2012 Rosalie bravely delivered her stillborn daughter.
Rosalie’s grief at the passing of her daughter was absolute, yet she found eternal hope in the atonement of Jesus Christ and the plan of salvation. It was through that hope that she was able to continue as a wife and a mother and a teacher though her heart was broken. It was through that hope that she decided to bring another child into their family. On June 5th 2013 Cade Porter joined the Mastaler family. He brought with him the joy that all new babies bring, however, the joy was felt more deeply because of the sorrow that had been her constant companion. Cade also brought healing, and though Rosalie would miss her daughter all her life Cade was a miracle that renewed and rejuvenated her.
Rosalie, now a mother of two energetic boys worked from son up to son down. She busied herself doing the things she loved most: teaching and playing music (she now had more private students than ever before and was also teaching Kindermusic from her home), planning elaborate events for and with the people she loved, starting and performing with A Penny A Kiss, keeping up with her long distance best friends over the phone, and of course being a wife and a mother. Rosalie supported Michael while he earned his bachelor’s degree. Rosalie was a hard worker. She did what she loved and loved what she did. Nearly every aspect of her life was pinterest worthy, from the parties she orchestrated to the homemade crafts she created to decorate her home. The Mastalers enjoyed family weddings, trips to Disneyland, and a Disney cruise. Life rolled along pleasantly and time ebbed away.
Unfortunately, as indicative of her past, the final hour of Rosalie’s youth culminated in tragedy. On
February 8th, 2015 Hunter was seriously injured in an accident involving Jango, Michael’s police dog. Time stood still as Hunter was treated in the hospital. Rosalie prayed fervently, and implored all those close to her to pray for Hunter, to pray that his foot would be saved. Regrettably, this was not to be. The thousands of prayers offered in behalf of Hunter were heard, but the answer received was a trial Rosalie couldn’t imagine. Hunter’s foot could not be saved, despite the valiant efforts of the surgeons and other medical professionals. In her darkest hours, Rosalie didn’t turn angrily away from God. Her faith was not shaken. Rather, she turned to God and begged for the strength she and her family would need to continue onward, and onward they go.
The nature of the tragedy caused a community to pull together in support of the Mastalers. Friends and strangers rallied behind them offering assistance of every kind. The response was overwhelming but not surprising. Rosalie’s constant friendship and consistent devotion to those who are in her life inspire people to give and serve. It was as much a reflection on Rosalie’s character as the scope of the tragedy that the support was given.
If this were an actual eulogy, I suppose at her funeral it would be fitting to sing the hymn Press Forward Saints:
Press forward, Saints, with steadfast faith in Christ,
With hope’s bright flame alight in heart and mind,
With love of God and love of all mankind.
Press forward, feasting on the word of Christ.
Receive his name, rejoicing in his might.
Come unto God; find everlasting light.
Press on, enduring in the ways of Christ.
His love proclaim thru days of mortal strife.
Thus saith our God: “Ye have eternal life!”
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
Fortunately, this obituary is merely a symbol of Rosalie’s passing youth. The passing of Rosalie’s youth is marked in celebration, rather than sorrow, for the wisest of us knows that growing older is a privilege. This is simply a new beginning. The start of a brand new adventure for the bravest of explorers. At her core, Rosalie is compassion and snark. Empathy and sarcasm. Comedy and tragedy. Beauty and pain. The perfect combination of trepidation and courage. That is the thing. Rosalie’s life has proven to be a thing of beauty peppered with personal tragedy. Rosalie isn’t and never will be defined by the tragedies that have befallen her, rather, she is defined by her strength and resilience in the face of those trials.
So happy thirtieth birthday, dear Rosalie. Your steadfastness in every aspect of your life in times of happiness and mourning inspire friends and strangers alike. May your next thirty years bring as much beauty (and none of the sorrow) as the last thirty years.