"It was Rickey who told me he thought I was the true American Idol, because at such a young age (I was 17 when the season started), I had some idea of what was most important in life. He told me to stay good. To stay pure. To stay innocent. To stay sweet," she wrote. "He told me he loved me, and I will never forget the way he made me feel that night -- like I was important to this world, like I was important to him"
Rasmusen shared a touching story of how Smith was sensitive that she was a Mormon, and stood up for her when she was in "uncomfortable" situations, like when on particular movie night featured an R-rated film.
She said her self-appointed big brothers -- Smith, Ruben Studdard and Aiken -- often called for "earmuffs" when they didn't want their "'lil sis" to hear a dirty joke, and it was Smith who reached out to her many years later through Facebook.
"I wrote him back, but that was the last correspondence we had," she wrote. "It hurts my soul to think I won’t get to catch up with him soon."
'American Idol' Season 2 Alum Rickey Smith Killed in Car Crash: Report
Smith's passing reunited Idols Studdard, Aiken, Melinda Doolittle, Julia DeMato, Vanessa Olivarez, and Charles Grigsby in Oklahoma, who all came to honor their friend at the funeral. Rasmusen said Aiken's words were a touching reminder of the bond they all share through their Idol experience.
"It certainly makes one realize the importance of staying in touch with people who are important to you. It may have been a decade and a half ago … but we are all such an integral part of each other's stories. I love each of you," Aiken told the group.
Rasmusen said the group gathered to "sing Rickey home," and said their final goodbyes at his grave.
"As we stood at his gravesite saying our goodbyes “for now, until we meet again,” I had the feeling that if he were here, Rickey would be telling us to continue to live, to continue to love, to hold on to each other even as we let him go," she wrote.
Read Rasmusen's entire essay here.