I came across Janes story on Instagram just a few years ago. It’s amazing how fast time flies. I was on Instagram and she popped up in my “similar accounts you follow” I happened to watch her Instagram story and on her story that day she was sharing this loss that she experienced a few years ago. It was so raw and I could feel the emotions. I had no idea who this woman was but I could feel her pain and sorrow. Her story completely pulled at my heart strings. I was instantly pushed into the present. Her strength is admirable and she gives hope to so many who have or will face something difficult in their life. Her story is a reminder on how precious and fragile this life is. And when storms come, the rainbows will guide us.
This story has been shared by given permission.
Stories To Share: “Spreading Sunshine For Jaylen”
It was September 21, 2013, we were headed to my sisters house to celebrate my son Jaylen, second birthday. He was turning 2 on September 25.
My sister had a swimming pool and we loved to swim, especially living in Texas with the heat, so we planned a pool party. It was just my family (husband and two kids) and my sisters family (husband and three kids) who were there. An intimate party with just family. Everyone was having so much fun, the kids played in the pool for a few hours. It was getting time for dinner so we started getting cleaned up, got the kids out of the pool and headed inside for dinner.
Shortly after dinner, my sister and I started cleaning up so we could sing to Jaylen and have birthday cake. I watched Jaylen walk outside and sit on his dad’s lap. A few moments later I looked outside and saw that Jaylen was not on his dads lap anymore so I immediately walked outside and asked Mike where Jaylen had gone. He mentioned that he had followed his brother Ian, who had just walked by, to the garage.
Our lives changed forever that night because Jaylen had not followed his brother to the garage, instead he found his way to the pool (steps from my husband) and lost his life that night. It was a matter of seconds that he was out of our sight. No splashing or screaming. No crazy loud night with distracted parents. An extremely peaceful, calm, enjoyable night that turned tragic.
Since that day life has never been the same. Trying to navigate life after losing a child is absolutely the hardest thing I have ever had to do. Many nights I would sob, wondering how I would make it to the next day. I distinctly remember nights pleading to God to help me through to the next day because I didn’t know how I could go on. Miraculously, little by little, day by day, slowly putting one foot in front of the other, life became manageable again, although never the same.
Days after losing Jaylen, a family member had the idea to “Spread Sunshine” on Jaylen’s behalf. It’s started out as family and friends spreading sunshine to our family, which warmed our hearts during such a tragic time. Since then, our family has continued “Spreading Sunshine for Jaylen”. Each September, we do random acts of kindness in honor of our son, sharing a card with his story on it, hoping others will pass the kindness along to others. In a time that can be extremely hard, it has brightened our month by continuing this beautiful act of kindness in honor of Jaylen.
We are now about to enter our eighth year without our son. It’s hard to believe we have made it this far, but on our journey, we have been blessed to find so much beauty along the road. When you experience something so tragic, you can’t help but see life through a different lens, and what a gift each and every day is. Live life to the fullest, love harder, cherish the moments because we don’t know what tomorrow will bring.
Jane GarnerRodan+Fields Consultant
If you have a story that you would like to share please contact ‘The Wild Gems’ . You can always remain anonymous as well. I believe sharing our stories has the power to not only heal ourselves but others as well. We need to always be reminded and to remind others that we are never alone and that love continues and will continue to push through even the darkest of moments.