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Lexington Regional Health Center finds meaning in the word Saudade

Lexington Regional Health Center (LRHC) has partnered with Jackie Rowan, mother of Erika Rowan, to help moms who have lost children. Erika Rowan was born on September 23, 1991. She is the daughter of Erik and Jackie Rowan and sister to Joshua Rowan. “She was a giving child with a heart that was full of love for everyone. She had the most infectious laugh and was a fierce defender of the weak. On February 25, 2008, Erika was in a one vehicle rollover accident and died instantly,” said Rowan. Jackie was searching for something to help alleviate the pain of losing her daughter when she found the word Saudade.

“I was constantly looking for something that would heal my heart and tell me that she was okay. One day I saw the word Saudade. I read what it meant and I knew that it was from Erika. It is Portuguese for “The Love That Remains”. It’s a reminder to me every day that Erika is still here with me and will never ever be gone. I knew that God was telling me that I needed to let other moms know that when their child died that the love they have is endless.”

Nicole Thorell, Chief Nursing Officer, and Rebecca Walton, Executive Assistant, wanted to share Jackie’s story with others. They came up with the idea of creating a card with an attached necklace that would be given to mothers at the hospital who lose a child. They brought the idea to Jackie and asked for inspiration on what should be said on the card.

“The necklaces will be given out to mothers who have lost their children, no matter what the age or the cause. Both nurses and Social Workers will be trained on how to present the necklaces,” said Thorell. “We knew we wanted to create some sort of a card, but we weren’t sure what to include. When we met with Jackie, she told us about the word Saudade and that she had a tattoo of it on her side in Erikas handwriting. Originally, we just had Saudade on the card but we knew it was missing something. Jackie wrote Erika’s story and the meaning behind Saudade and it was placed on the backside.”

Jackie is honored that Erika will be remembered through these cards. She hopes that these cards can help other mothers who have lost children. “I wouldn’t be here without the support system that I’ve had for the last 10 years. Sayings give me comfort to help me live one more day. I move the saying on to others in hopes that they will make it one more day.”