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Bittersweet Moment: “Although You Weren’t There To Walk, You Were There In Spirit”

Left image shows Jenna Howard's BFF Kadyn Mackey picking up her diploma after jenna passed away suddenly 6 days earlier. Right image shows the crowd offering a standing ovation for Jenna.

Grab the tissues now. You’ll need them for sad, joyful, and all the in-between tears. Jenna Elizabeth Howard was only 19 when she passed away unexpectedly on May 25, 2024. The young lady was 6 days shy of her high school graduation. As a heart transplant recipient, she was navigating that process while working on graduating. Jenna Howard earned her Portage Central High School diploma but wasn’t around to walk across the stage. Her lifelong best friend, Kadyn Mackey, took care of that part for Jenna. The audience offered Jenna a standing ovation, and there weren’t many dry eyes in the Wings Event Center.


My beautiful best friend who passed away unexpectedly on Saturday, May 25, 2024 (just 6 days before graduation) did it. I couldn’t be more proud of all she’s accomplished. She’s always with me and words can’t and won’t ever be able to describe the sadness that has overcome me. I can’t believe i had to do this special day without you, but i know you were there. I love you forever always jenna e🩷🪽

♬ pluto projector – al

Jenna’s heart failed early in the morning on May 25. She never made it out of the hospital that day. The suddenness of her death was devastating to friends and family. Her parents, Jami and Jason Howard, said Jenna enjoyed life and participated in various activities, describing her as “humble, kind, fun, loving, brave, and one of the strongest human beings ever.”

Jenna had plans for her future. Following graduation, she was to attend Western Michigan University, where she would study Elementary Education. She and Kadyn were looking forward to continuing their friendship as dormitory roommates. Jenna also loved her dog, a Great Dane named Doc Victor. The dog was by her side throughout her heart transplant recovery. She loved the beach, dancing, shopping, and most things teenage girls enjoy, including Starbucks.

Kadyn Mackey accepts the diploma for her deceased friend, Jenna Howard to a standing ovation.
Image from TikTok.

When Kadyn posted the video of her accepting Jenna Howard’s diploma, the common sentiment was that Jenna was there in spirit. You can watch the entire graduation ceremony on YouTube. For Kadyn, collecting her friend’s diploma was the greatest honor ever.

Please share Jenna and Kadyn’s story of love.

You can find the source of this story’s featured image here.

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