COZAD — There are few things so permanent in this life as a parent’s love for their child, sibling’s love for one another. This love remains even after a member is gone.
For the Aden family this reality came too soon when their three year old daughter Rhakenna Aden passed away Jan. 23, 2019.
Rhakenna was the daughter of Jamion and Tasia Aden. Her two older brothers are Rugor, age 11 and Rider, age nine. She was born on Sept. 4, 2015. She was described by her family as a “true mermaid baby,” after she was born in her amniotic sac. She grew up to adore kittens, unicorns and mermaids. Rhakenna lived for the outdoors no matter the weather, be it snow, rain or sunshine.
The story of Rhakenna’s wings began one night when the Adens were watching a movie. Tasia said she had climbed up onto her bed to be closer to her when a pair of wings which hung on the wall fell to the floor without warning.
This startled Tasia and her sons who didn’t know where the sound came from at first. Then Tasia noticed Rhakenna had not reacted to this noise as she usually would have. Then she noticed Rhakenna’s eyes were rolled back and her breathing had become erratic, soon after her whole body began seizing.
Rhakenna was rushed to the hospital, her seizure lasted for 40 minutes that fateful evening. She was released from the hospital two days later and an MRI scan was scheduled for the next week. This scan was pushed back two more weeks, as it turned out, a week too late.
During this time period the Adens spent every minute they could as a family. “Late night movies, cookies for bedtimes snacks, being less irritated with the deodorant and shaving cream that Rahkenna spread all over our bathroom,” said Tasia, “We cherished every minute.”
After Rhakenna passed away in her sleep, it was determined she had a seizure disorder, Tasia said.
The Aden family has since been seeing feathers in multiple ways. Tasia has made a sign above her bed when Rhakenna was a baby, drawing feathers she wrote out the Bible verse from Psalm 91:4, “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.”
The Adens knew they had to honor Rhakenna is some way. Tasia said, “We initially wanted to make this all about our daughter, but as the days passed by we began to realize this is about her legacy and opened our hearts to a bigger project to allow our community to participate. Now we want to spread wings throughout our community as a beautiful tribute and artistic flare for all to enjoy.”
The Adens decided to honor their daughter with, “Rahkenna’s Wings,” in special locations around Cozad. They don’t only seek to honor Rhakenna but create a legacy for her of extending the wings project to everyone in the community.
There are two pieces to Rhakenna’s Wing. Karen Neppl is an artist from Grand Island who is designing all the wings, and they will be marked “#WingsAcrossTheHeartland,” those who choose to do so can also have “#RhakennaWings,” added.
Those which do feature Rhakenna’s name will also have subtle leopard print, to honor her love of a stuffed leopard she always had with her and her fondness for seek and find books. There are currently 20 wings going up throughout the Cozad community.
It was the words of the poem, “The Legacy,” which inspired the Adens to make this a community wide project.
“When I die, give what is left of me to children. If you need to cry, cry for your brothers walking beside you. Put your arms around anyone and give them what you need to give to me. I want to leave you with something, something better than words or sounds. Look for me in the people I have known and loved. And if you cannot live without me, let me live on in your eyes, your mind and your acts of kindness. You can love me most by letting hands touch hands and letting go of children that need to be free. Love does not die, people do. So when all that is left of me is love…Give me away…”