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A Daughter is Remembered Through the Gift of Time

Emily and her daughter, Helen James

Emily and her daughter, Helen James

Emily lost her newborn daughter, Helen James, when she was 38 weeks pregnant. Although Emily’s pregnancy was normal, she noticed one night when Helen James wasn’t kicking like usual. She tried eating chocolate and drinking juice, but still nothing happened. Her husband Joel took her to the hospital where the doctors gave her an ultrasound, confirming the worst: Helen’s heart had stopped beating.

Emily delivered Helen through a c-section and was able to spend several days with her in the hospital through a Cuddle Cot, a device that cools and preserves the body for up to five days. A family donated it the previous year to the hospital.


Although Emily and her family had never heard of a Cuddle Cot, the device became a lifeline between her and her daughter by providing precious time they would not have had otherwise. Because of the Cuddle Cot, friends and family traveled from across the country to visit, hold, and meet Helen James.

Because of the gift the Cuddle Cot provided, Emily and Joel and thier friends started a fundraiser to purchase additional devices and replacement kits. In just two weeks time, they raised over $20,000 and have been able to donate six Cuddle Cots to hospitals in Memphis and Nashville.

“Our goal is to help build awareness around Cuddle Cots and the importance of them. Most grieving parents only get a few hours with their babies when they are born not living which is incredibly difficult,” says Emily.


Saint Thomas Midtown in Nashville, where Helen James was born, is receiving two Cuddle Cots. They hold a ceremony for each new piece of equipment they receive, and Emily and Joel have been invited to attend.


Each Cuddle Cot has an inscription dedicated to Helen.


Helen James, named after Emily’s vivacious, sports-loving grandmother, is cherished and missed every day by her parents. A verse that sums up Emily’s journey, found in Corinthians 13, describes love as unending. “Although Helen is not physically here with us,” Emily says, “the love we have for her has no end. It feels as strong as it did from the moment the Lord chose us to be her parents.”


If you’d like to make a contribution to a Cuddle Cot in Helen James’ honor, you can go to







Charlie Harris, Age 8, Memphis, TN

Charlie Harris, Age 8, Memphis, TN

I met Claire and Cheyne Harris through one of my collectors. They commissioned me to paint their 8-year-old son, Charlie.


This was a really meaningful commission for Claire, because she'd recently lost her father. Having Charlie painted now was a special way of honoring her dad's legacy.


I thought Charlie was so cute when I met him. I took his pictures on a weirdly warm day over Christmas, and he told me about what he was asking for. It was mostly sports-related:)


He struck me as just a really sweet, good-natured boy. 


What was really cool about this commission was that I was on the news here in Waco, and I brought this portrait along. You can watch the segment here.


Charlie thought it was pretty cool he was on T.V.


Claire and Cheyne were fun and easy to work with, and I could tell how much they loved their son. It was as honor to


I asked Claire the greatest lesson that she's learned from motherhood, and she said, "Children are VERY smart and are always listening to you and watching you.  You will know this when your 8 year old tells you that he "has had a lot on his mind lately" 😂


"Therefore, you should live your life like you want your child to live his or hers. If you give them lots of love, time, and teach them humility they will internalize that and pass that down to their own families."


Amen to that!




She almost lost her daughter, but never gave up hope

5-year-old Maggie

5-year-old Maggie

PPROM (Preterm premature rupture of membranes) is a rare condition that happens when the amniotic sack breaks too early in pregnancy.


It sounds horrible, and it is. My friend Lee Cordon, writer of etiquette blog Do Say Give, experienced it with her daughter Maggie.


Because a baby can’t develop lungs without amniotic fluid, Maggie had little to no chance of surviving outside the womb. So the doctors encouraged her to terminate the pregnancy.


But Lee refused to give up. She’d gotten to know this baby, felt her kicking, and knew ending the pregnancy just wasn’t the right thing to do.


So she did the only thing she could – went home and prayed for a miracle, along with her family and church. She stared a blog to keep people updated. 


Lee says it was during this time her faith was the strongest. “When you don’t have any other hope, you have to rely on the promises of the Lord.”


During the seven weeks she was in the hospital, she remembers a distinct moment when she felt God providing for her. A kind hospital cleaning lady who she saw regularly told her the baby was going to be OK. She said a prayer for her in Spanish and told her to believe. Lee says she was a guardian angel.


Maggie was born 29 weeks through an emergency C-section. Lee wanted to be awake for the first few moments of her daughter’s life, knowing they might be the last.


She was rushed to the NICU and amazingly, lived. The doctors couldn’t believe it. Maggie was a miracle.


Still, the doctors said she would have major disabilities.


Maggie came home and they spent the first three years going to appointments. Lee says it was a big blur of all-nighters and feeding tubes.


But Maggie made it, and she’s doing great now – running, playing, and doing things normal kids do. She’s bright and happy, with a fighter’s spirit. She still has therapy, but Lee and her husband can't complain. She’s alive, and that’s something they thought might not happen.


For moms going through a similar experience, Lee says never give up hope.


“During periods of hardship and suffering a tiny glimmer of hope can get you through the most difficult days. Cling to that hope and don't ever give it up.”


Have you gone through something similar? Leave a comment below.