I Became a Widow Shortly After Mother's Day, and It'll Never Be the Same

Jessica Ayers
Jessica Ayers

I remember my first Mother's Day as a mom. I was eight months pregnant with my son Jax, and we were celebrating at my family's cabin in the woods. Even though my son was still in my belly, I already felt a sense of acceptance into the world of motherhood. A unique and special feeling came over me that I can't describe. As the day progressed, we ate, watched movies, and all took time to celebrate the wonderful task and journey of mothering a child. The day couldn't have been more perfect, until tragedy struck and changed everything.

My father, my husband, and my brother decided to take the ATV for a spin, and the vehicle spiraled out of control. While coming downhill, the brakes locked up and the wheels became submerged in a patch of thick, powdery sand. My mother and I heard terrifying screams that were followed by a loud crash. As we rushed around the corner of the house, I noticed my husband falling out of the vehicle while my father was face down and motionless. They crashed into the side of the house at full speed. In that moment, I'd never felt so scared. It was the first time I'd ever been faced with the possibility of losing my husband. But after realizing he was OK, I quickly redirected my attention to my dad. He was still unconscious and he was bleeding from his head. Calling an ambulance was pointless since we were in the sticks and the nearest hospital was a hour away. "My son will never know his grandfather," I thought.

Three days after I delivered our son, my husband was shot and killed by a stray bullet.

I'm happy to say that my father ended up pulling through. He made it to the hospital in time for the doctors to catch a brain hemorrhage. He was hospitalized for weeks, but was able to walk away with no permanent damage. I, on the other hand, did not. At eight months pregnant, I was traumatized by what happened and the thought that I almost lost my husband. I held him close for weeks, thanking God every day for keeping him here on this earth. "We will have a great Mother's Day next year," he told me, "I promise." I smiled with tears in my eyes. He always knew the right thing to say. Unfortunately, this time, he was wrong. I think he always thought he could control his own fate if he believed in it hard enough. He was notorious for telling me, "It's going to be OK." But three days after I delivered our son, my husband was shot and killed by a stray bullet.

On Mother's Day a year later, I was a new mom and a new widow. We didn't go to the cabin in the woods, or go out for a nice dinner like we used to. We spent the day with family, but we were in mourning. Every year since that first Mother's Day without him, it's been the same. We all get together because we feel like we should, but it's met with so much sadness. The level of grief that I experience always makes me think of all the others who are also mourning on Mother's Day. I know I'm not alone.

I recently got engaged, and my fiancé has added another Mother's Day perspective to our family. He lost his mother three years ago, so Mother's Day is also understandably tough on him. My aunt passed away six months before my husband died, and she left behind a 5-year-old son. I think of him and my uncle on Mother's Day, and the familiar challenges they face. I always make a point to spend time with my husband's mother on Mother's Day, too. Justin was her only child. She's told me multiple times that she doesn't feel like a mom anymore, and that breaks my heart. Justin loved a lot of people on this earth, but he loved his mom like no one else.

I hope to one day find a sense of peace on Mother's Day, one that I haven't experienced since becoming a mom. I know that it will always be a hard day for me and that there are so many others in this world who feel the same. On the day of the ATV accident, my mother said something to me that I'll never forget: "This is what being a mother is all about, honey. It's a selfless and thankless job sometimes, but it's still the greatest job in the world." At the time I didn't realize just how right she actually was. I'm thankful for her every single day.