Fort Smith, Arkansas — Raelynn Nast, a 6-year-old from Fort Smith, Arkansas, has always been a daddy's girl, according to her mother, Lacey. "She was very proud of her dad. She always wanted to introduce her dad to everybody," Lacey said.
Raelynn's father, Davey, died recently of colon cancer. He was just 41 years old. Raelynn was devastated. "It was a cry that was pure heartbreak," Lacey said.
Enter Emily Beineman, who happened to be jogging with her dog, Blue, the day of Davey's visitation. She was running past the funeral home when she heard a tiny voice call out from the chapel steps.
"She was like, 'May I pet your puppy?' And I was like, 'Yeah, of course, as long as your parents don't mind,'" Beineman said, not knowing the circumstances.
Raelynn explained that her dad was lying inside, gave Blue a huge hug, then gave Beineman a stunning invitation. "I asked if she wanted to come in and see my dad," Raelynn said.
That's right, the proud daughter invited that random jogger to meet her father.
Beineman was hardly dressed for a funeral. She knew just walking in the door would cause a scene, but she also knew this was the last time that little girl would be able to introduce her daddy to anyone. So she followed her gut — and followed Raelynn down the aisle.
"Everyone was kind of looking around like, 'Where did she come from?' And she came in right next to Rae like they'd known each other for so long. There was that connection there," Lacey said.
How could two people bond so quickly? Raelynn says it should be no mystery. "She helped me feel better by her kindness."
Raelynn and Beineman got together again this week and plan to stay friends forever.
Of course, no one will ever replace her dad, but Raelynn is on the path to a better place, thanks to the kindness of a stranger and the healing power of a warm puppy.