In June 2019, country singer Granger Smith and his wife, actress Amber Smith, experienced unimaginable grief and heartbreak when their young child, River, unexpectedly passed away.
River was just 3 years old when he was playing “water gunfight” with his older brother and later found in the pool in their backyard by his parents. In one of the many YouTube videos, Granger and Amber have shared over the last seven months, River could have been in the pool anywhere from 30 seconds to three minutes.
Granger was also outside their home when tragedy struck, he was watching their oldest child do gymnastics. He told his YouTube fans that he remembers thinking to himself to cherish that special moment outside with his children because you never know how long those blessings will last.
Within minutes of having that thought, he and Amber were on their pool deck, performing CPR, and waiting for first responders to arrive. River didn’t survive and his organs were donated to those in need.
Amber Smith Opens Up About 2019, Seven Months After Son’s Passing
Now that the end of 2019 has come, Amber is reflecting on the hardest year of their life. On Instagram, Amber shared an illustration of their family, with River depicted holding Jesus’s hand. She wrote:
“2019 – The year that brought me to my knees. The year our beautiful red-headed boy turned 3 and went Home. The year that same sweet boy saved 2 other lives. The year that broke my heart into pieces but also tempered my spirit. The year we started The Smiths. The year we moved from our home and all the memories we made there. The year Linc turned 5 and started kinder and London started 2nd grade. The year that I became the closest to God I’ve ever been. The year I cried every day for 6 months straight. The year London lost 3 teeth and turned 8. The year we ministered to hundreds about grief and hope. The year we vowed to not let anything tear our family apart. The year we promised to find meaning and not reasons. The year Granger and I became closer than ever before.”
Amber continued, adding that is was the year she learned what was important, the year she felt so much love, and the year she learned that “joy and grief can coexist.” The year we dove back into the fire to help other grieving parents.
It was also the year that changed her, forced her to learn that she is not in control, and the year that “solidified that I can’t live this life without God.” She then reflected:
“I can’t believe it’s been almost 7 months since we held our sweet Riv and that we will be starting a new year without him physically with us. Through this sadness, I’m hopeful for all that is to come.”
The mom wrote that she is now looking forward to growing The River Kelly Fund, which they started following his passing so that they can help as many people as possible.
Amber is also turning her focus to her daughter London and middle child Lincoln so that they can thrive despite losing their beloved little brother. “I hope to keep bringing people to the Kingdom and sharing the love of God that I have felt so strongly.”
“Change is inevitable, heartache will come, trouble will come, the enemy will attack, but if we put on the armor of God, we will not be defeated. We can, and will, make it through anything that comes our way. […] I’m wishing all of you joy in the coming year. Know that as you head into a new decade, you are loved, you have purpose, you are stronger than you think, and you are never alone.”
Amber concluded, “Thank you for following along with us on this journey, for supporting our family, Granger’s music, and our healing. We really do appreciate all of your stories, messages, letters, and prayers.”
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