Kids Health

Granger Smith's Wife Amber Honors Late Son River 1 Year After His Death

A touching tribute. Amber Smith reflected on her last moments with her and Granger Smith’s late son, River, on the first anniversary of his death.

“One year ago today, we took our ‘honor walk’ as we walked behind our sweet son down the long hallway to the operating room,” the actress, 38, captioned a Saturday, June 6, Instagram slideshow of throwback photos. “River took his last breath in there, without his Mommy and Daddy. We know his spirit was with Jesus, but his earthly body was still present and it was so hard to let them close those doors without us. I’ll never forget waiting for what felt like hours for them to come back and tell us everything went wonderful, they were taking the organs to the recipients and he was at peace. They later told me they played the Cars soundtrack as they operated.”

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June 6, 2019. One year ago today, we took our “honor walk” as we walked behind our sweet son down the long hallway to the operating room. River took his last breath in there, without his mommy and daddy. We know his spirit was with Jesus, but his earthly body was still present and it was so hard to let them close those doors without us. I’ll never forget waiting for what felt like hours for them to come back and tell us everything went wonderful, they were taking the organs to the recipients and he was at peace. They later told me they played the Cars soundtrack as they operated. I still cry thinking of the kindness and empathy from our hospital staff. June 6th was the day Granger and I vowed to not let this break our family. We now had to make the trip home without Riv in his car seat. We now had to tell our children their brother wasn’t coming home. When we got there we saw this. My heart hurt so bad knowing they colored these hearts anticipating his return. He wouldn’t return to our home but he was Home. We grabbed our kiddos, I could tell by her face, London already knew what we were about to say, and took them out into the woods where Riv always played. We sat together, held each other and had one of the hardest conversations I hope we ever have to have. Today, one year ago, began our trek down this rocky road of grief. There have been many turns, many bumpy spots and many just outright falls, but we are walking, we are moving, we are taking the next steps and I can say that one year later, we are different. In a strange way, we are stronger by His grace. We have learned so much about ourselves and our family and our God. Today we start year 2. A lot of people say it’s harder than the first. I don’t know how it could be but I’m ready to take it on, even if I have tears streaming down my face. I’m ready to keep learning and keep growing and keep trusting my God. Greater is He that is in me in me, than he that is in the world.Hebrews 11:1 ✝️🌈🦋⚡️🦖🚜🎈

A post shared byAmber Smith 🦋 (@amberemilysmith) on

The Texas native, who also shares London, 8, and Lincoln, 6, with the country singer, 40, went on to write that she and Granger vowed not to let River’s death “break” their family. “We now had to make the trip home without Riv in his car seat,” she wrote. “We now had to tell our children their brother wasn’t coming home.”

The couple told River’s siblings about his death “out in the woods where Liv always played,” Amber recalled. “We sat together, held each other and had one of the hardest conversations I hope we ever have to have.”

While the family’s “rocky road of grief” has included “bumpy spots and many outright falls,” Amber noted, “We are walking, we are moving, we are taking the next steps and I can say that one year later, we are different. In a strange way, we are stronger by His grace. We have learned so much about ourselves and our family and our God.”

The Hot Air star has heard that her second year without River will be “harder” than the first, although she “doesn’t know how that could be.”

She concluded, “I’m ready to take it on, even if I have tears streaming down my face. I’m ready to keep learning and keep growing and keep trusting my God.”

Jamie Lynn Spears commented on the social media upload: “You are such an inspiration. Thank you for sharing.”

Amber and Granger announced River died by drowning in a June 2019 Facebook post. “Riv was special,” the “Backroad Song” singer wrote at the time. “Everyone that met him knew that immediately. The joy he brought to our lives cannot be expressed and his light will be forever in our hearts. If there are words to say more, I cannot find them in this moment.”

The couple have since created the River Kelly Fund to support causes “including children in need, arts and education, wildlife preservation, military, veteran and first responder assistance, donor affiliations and many more organizations.”

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