Empty

Photograph courtesy of the Cowan family

Have you ever heard of the ripple effect? It’s this theory that a small movement can cause an even bigger chain of events that touches other people’s lives.

It became apparent to me, that not only does the person receiving the gift of remembrance photography from “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep” experience healing, but so does the immediate family members of the loved one lost.

Below is the story from the perspective of my twin sister Jamie, of how her life was personally touched by the ripple effect of NILMDTS. Enjoy reading, as she shares about how the gift of a photo, the gift of a person with a camera, the gift of time, tenderness, love and compassion can only create the ripple effect that Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep can do, allowing our family to turn grief into healing.

Most people don’t know the pain of what goes through a person’s heart when they walk away from the vessel of a body, spirit in heaven and the only word resuming is EMPTY. Empty crib. Empty car seat. Empty clothes. Empty shoes. Empty toys. Empty seat at the table. Empty silence with no more cries, laughter or voice. Empty heart. Empty tears. Empty inside… never to be replaced.

I walked into my sister’s house. I felt her emptiness. I felt the loss. I felt her pain. I felt so sad.

I couldn’t help but walk into his bedroom and see Rylen’s name plate on the wall, I had made for him when we learned he was going to be born. And then, I saw the empty crib. I walked into the kitchen, an empty highchair. He’ll never sit in it again. The table of four that will now never hold the family of four. There was an empty chair where he once sat.

The floor was empty. His toys just lying there even felt empty, just lonely sitting there waiting to be touched and played with. Never to be held or played with by him again. Then I walk into my sister’s bedroom. And sitting on the dresser drawer is a beautiful photo from ‘Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep’. My sister’s hands, her husband’s hands and then Rylen’s hands all embraced around each other. And all the sudden I’m not feeling so EMPTY anymore. The picture holds comfort. The picture holds love. The picture holds a memory that will never be altered, changed or forgotten. It’s FULL!

And that’s what ‘Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep’ has done for me, my sister and many more that have lost and felt empty. NILMDTS provides remembrance photography of you and your loved ones, free of charge, and gifted so that you can have, remember and feel FULL by a photo when you somehow come to the collision of the reality of what feels empty. And you’re reminded it doesn’t have to be.

Healing happens here, as NILMDTS’s trained professional photographers, delicately and with great compassion, hold a space to capture lasting togetherness in a picture. They say a picture is worth a thousand words! Oh, how true that is. And because of their beautiful photography gift given to my sister, and the presence of this picture in their home, we won’t ever forget Rylen. If anything, it reminds us of the many lives Rylen touched during his short 13 months of life, but mainly the lives he continues to touch, as he lives on through others because of organ donation, and continues to impact families in need through the mission of the Smilin’ Rylen Foundation.

Learn more about Rylen and the Smilin’ Rylen Foundation here: www.smilinrylenfoundation.org

From a family member who has seen the impact of ‘a picture’, I have no words, except…Thank you for helping us all feel FULL again. And thank you for the gift of remembrance photography, which has allowed the ripple effect to continue.

Twin sister Jamie, of Kristen Cowan, sharing her love for Now I Lay Me Down to sleep and how the gift of remembrance photography has left a ripple effect on her life personally.

Smilin Rylen Run
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