My Built in Best Friend

Today is the three year anniversary of my sister, Ryane, leaving this world.  In her memory, here is my post from a week after she passed away.  Always remember ❤

My twin sister, Ryane (pronounced Ryan), passed away 11 days ago.  I am still in shock and feel as if I will be the rest of my life.  I will get to wait the next 60+ years to see her again, even though Saturday morning I never in a million years imagined that I would never speak to her again.  I had just spent the day with her, going out to breakfast and shopping for Ken’s homecoming shoes.  I had said goodbye to Ryane like any other time I had been home.  I had driven back to Purdue with my cousin, Monica.  I had gone out that night with some friends and got back to my place around 2am.  I had made mac and cheese.  I had fallen asleep watching Grey’s Anatomy.  I was woken up to my mom calling me at 5:30am and knowing something was wrong, but hoping it was something minor.  It wasn’t.  So much has changed since that day.

I spent the past week planning the funeral and wake in honor of the person I have known literally my whole existence.  Trying to make everything just as she would want it.  Picking out her casket flowers instead of her wedding flowers.  Picking her last outfit out of the multitude of clothes that are piled in her room.  Searching through thousands of photos to make a slideshow that doesn’t even begin to represent her life.  Putting together the program to make this celebration of her life as beautiful as a death can be. All of this while still having to go back to Purdue to keep up with studies and writing a memoir that wouldn’t even begin to describe a person that I thought would be indescribable even if I tried.  This past weekend was the wake and funeral.  I read the memoir in honor of the vibrant person Ryane was.  With the help of her and the Holy Spirit, I found I was able to begin to describe who she was to me and many others.  I know sometimes reading this comforts me, other times it makes me cry, but either way I wanted to share for those who need a reminder of the radiant person Ryane is.

My words at the funeral:

“My name is Nelson Jenig, I am the twin sister of Ryane Jenig.  And this is my little sister Kennedy and my little brother Connor.

Ryane and I have been through a lot together.  We have been through the horrors of birth together, cramped for 9 months as I sat on her umbilical cord causing me to get more of the nutrients.  We’ve been through me always holding it against her for being a minute older.  Keeping each other awake during nap-time, or having twin talk which is what we liked to call stay up talking all night because we shared a room our whole life.  Watching our favorite movie together, Moulin Rouge, on repeat and singing all the words plus the harmonies.  Car dancing together because we are that good.  The best hugs, where I would just lean into her and hang there.  Making her cuddle me because I was scared of the dark to the point where she can’t help but always be big spoon.  Telling me she can hear my voice in her head as her conscience.  These are just some of the special things we did together.

The thing is…I bet you all have some special thing with Ryane.   Because that’s what she did.  She made simple, normal things special.  She made people feel special.  She made the world magical.  Because that’s how she saw the world.  It was one big adventure and she was going to experience it, but not only that, she was going to enjoy every minute with you.

I was very lucky to get to experience the world in that way my whole life with her.

We went through life together.  We made each other who we are today as did everyone we met along the way.  She changed people as she met them.  It was a gift.  After knowing her, you could never go back to the way you lived before.  Everyone knew her as someone who shone as bright as the sun.  You were infatuated the moment you set eyes on her, and that is exactly how she liked it.  But it didn’t even stop there, it wasn’t just her blinding beauty.  IT was her blinding personality.  As if you were just completely immersed in Ryane.  If she was talking to you, she was fully engaged.  She made you feel special, unless she was trying to multitask… she was not very good at that.  I think the most recent example, is last Friday we all went to Ethan Myers wedding and there were two kids there who didn’t know anyone, and my Aunt Laura asked if we could make them feel at home.  Ryane obviously stepped up and danced with them all night, there are photo booth pictures with them, and they did not stop following her around.  This is who Ryane was.  She did this with everyone.  Brought them in. Loved them.  Enjoyed them.  And then she was loved and enjoyed back.

She taught me to be accepting to all people.  She was a friend to everyone.

Maybe you knew part of her.  High school Ryane.  Art Ryane. Trombone Ryane.  Middle School Ryane.  Baby Ryane.  College Ryane.  Crazy Ryane.  Rebel Ryane.  But I knew all of her.  Even when she didn’t want to share it.  And man was she beautiful.  I will never love anyone the way I love her.  She is one of a kind.  And I have been honored to grow up by her side every step of the way.  She is my soulmate.  I am sure a lot of you feel the same way, because when Ryane shared herself with you, she gave of herself completely.  That’s why people fell in love with her so easily.  There was no guardedness, there was just “this is who I am, love me.”  She made it so easy.

I want you all to remember these times, and be better because of them.  Allow yourself to laugh.  And please pray for the moments that our family will miss.

Connor because he will no longer be able to walk into her room and lay on top of her, or call her into his room to look at his game which she always thought was funny.

Pray for Kennedy because she will miss Ryane turning her terrible artwork from freshman year into an actual work of art, or her always borrowing her blue and white striped shirt and posting pictures in it.

and as you heard I will miss my built in best friend, my other half and

Please pray for my parents who made all of these moments possible through their unconditional love.

May God bless us all as He has blessed us with Ryane.

Thank you.”


Please don’t forget.  Live life to the fullest as Ryane did. Life is fragile.

Present Day:

I miss you every day Ryane.  I wish I could tell you of all that has happened over the past three years.  I wish you could have been here for Ken going off to college in Denver, or her studying aboard in the Netherlands, or just how fricking hilarious and beautiful she really is; the way she tackles life is truly inspiring.  I wish you could see Connor going through Marmion, playing on varsity football AND surpassing you in height, and the kindhearted and hilarious little brother that he has grown to be.

I wish I could talk to you about all that is going on in my life.  How my dream of helping others is finally coming true in grad school.  How I still graduated from Purdue’s engineering program even though I hated my major.  How I’ve been working downtown Chicago for the past year and a half.  I wish I could watch Moulin Rouge with you, or a really bad scary movie to get into the Halloween season.  I wish I could hear you laugh at my stupidity or give you a crushing hug.  There is so much I miss, but the pangs of hurt have become softer and more bearable.  Which in itself is bittersweet.  Thank God I don’t have to feel that pain everyday as intensely, but in the same breathe, that means the norm for my life is life without you.  And that hurts the most.

I will have to settle with the knowledge that you are looking out for all of us.  I love you ❤

“The greatest thing you will ever learn…is to love and be loved in return.” – Moulin Rouge



Ryane Jenig:  May 30, 1996 – October 1, 2016


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