For Emily, and for Those Looking for Answers.

By Rebecca and SamanthaJuly 16, 2013

As interns, we have the privilege of responding to the mail we get here at TWLOHA. Sometimes that means we get to answer questions, handle donations, or hear someone’s story. The activities of going to the post office, opening envelopes, and recording information become routine—but the lives we connect with never cease to transform us.

Lately, we’ve experienced parts of the beautiful story of Emily, who recently passed away in a car accident. She was a 17-year-old daughter, friend, sister, and supporter of TWLOHA.

We did not personally know Emily, but we have been touched by her. It seems this was a theme in her life. Emily was an activist for her friends as they struggled. She fought to spread the hope she had found to those around her. Even in her passing, she has brought life to so many others; in a letter from her mom, we learned Emily was an organ donor and helped up to 50 individuals in need of transplants. And today, as her family places her ashes in a coral reef, beauty continues to come from her story. The ramifications of the way Emily lived will endure.

Death in any circumstance raises a multitude of questions. It draws us back to the basics.

“Why did this happen?”
“Who is God? Who am I?
And the age-old question: “What is the meaning of life?”

When life is easy, when our worries are far off, we tend to push these questions away. It is in our pain that we are forced to confront these questions. But doesn’t that suggest we weren’t meant to struggle alone? Questions by their very definition provoke conversation. We need other people. We are meant to talk, to process, to let people love us and walk alongside us.

Emily’s mom included a quote from her daughter in the letter she sent to us: “When every day seems so long and everything seems to be falling apart, the first thing you do is borrow hope, love, or faith from someone who cares.”

It’s good to have questions. It’s healthy to lean on others for support. These things make us feel alive. When we are lacking in hope, love, or faith, we can look to our friends, family, and community. It may not erase the pain, at least not right away, but it can make it bearable. It can make life better.

People need other people, and that’s OK. It’s better than OK, it’s exciting and wonderful. We get to play a part in other people’s stories, and we get to let them play a part in ours.

So today, in honor of Emily and all the other stories that play into the larger TWLOHA story, look around you. Can you ask people these tough questions? Are there people who need you to listen? Reach out to those you love. You never know how a simple smile or taking a minute to genuinely listen might affect another person. You never know how far your actions can go, who your story will reach, whose life you can change.


(Emily with her father, Joe)

—Rebecca and Samantha, Summer 2013 interns

If you’d like to donate in honor or in memory of someone, you can do so through our Donate page. If you have more questions about setting up memorial funds or donations, please email [email protected].

Leave a Reply

Comments (10)

  1. Danielle

    This was beautiful. I love the reminder of the fact that what we have, it’s only borrowed. Give and receive, friends.

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  2. Alaine

    RIP Emily.

    A beautiful soul!

    Reply  |  
  3. Kimberly Faye Thompson, CHC

    What a beautiful article and tribute. You guys are interns?? Look out world!!

    Reply  |  
  4. Cassandra Holtzmann "Emily's Mom"

    Thank you for publishing such a nice article about our loving daughter Emily. Emily is an amazing person. As parents, we had no idea how many people she helped. The leadership and message that TWOLA is sending is so helpful and beautiful. Emily certainly believed that there is much more to life than the sad, dark times. It is then that we need to look further. Thank you for lifting Emily and JESUS up! This is a very well written article. Please pray for our family. We miss her.

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    1. Jade

      You are at peace now, you now have the answers to the questions so many people seek.

      I pray peace for your family who I am certain miss you. I know you are always near them and that you will find ways to comfort them from Heaven.

      We all live on borrowed time, none of us knows when we will go home to our Father in Heaven.

      Make the best of each day, make a new friend each day & always, Always … Smile.

      Reply  |  
  5. Kate

    She was wise beyond her years

    Reply  |  
  6. Jenn

    Sometimes bad things happen for no reason. Its terrible, unfair, and painful. Take time to grieve and to cry. Ultimately What matters most is what positives you can take from these tragedies so that those that die do not die in vain. Her memory will live on in showing kindness, empathy, love, and compassion to fellow people.

    Reply  |  
  7. Melissa

    Thank you for this beautifully written piece. Emily is my little sister and best friend in the whole world, losing her is like losing a piece of my soul. I knew her well and miss her dearly. I know Em would have thought that this is just the coolest thing ever to be a part of your cause… It’s unfortunate it had to be this way, but even in her death she has brought hearts to Jesus and revealed his love in our own lives. Thank you again for all that you do.

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  8. Katie Weber

    Emily is my best friend. There was a time in my life when I was struggling and didn’t know how I was supposed to cope. I started cutting, and Emily found out. If it wasn’t for her, id probably still be doing it. Thanks to her, i was put into counseling and learned how to deal with my struggles without harming myself. Ill admit, when Emily “told on me” to get me to stop, i was angry with her. But it wasn’t long until i realized, this girl didn’t do this to hurt me. She did it to save me. Emily is the most amazing person that’s ever come into my life. She truly was an angel even before she was given wings. There’s so much more she did for me, and countless other people. She’s a beautiful person. She will always be alive inside my heart. The fact that her ashes were made into a memorial reef only means she will always live on and continue to help people. She truly is an astounding human being, and now she is a guardian angel to all who loved her. I love you Emily Irene<3 words will never be enough to thank you for saving me and making me a better person. I will never forget(:

    Reply  |  
  9. Kris

    I was privileged to have Emily in my Creative Writing class. I will always remember that infectious giggle and great smile; such a spirit she had.

    Reply  |  
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