Amber Smith and her husband, country music star Granger Smith, are choosing to smile as they watch their two oldest children go off to school just a few months after their youngest child passed away.

On August 15, Amber took to Instagram to share her children’s “back to school” pictures. She said that she was “so happy and proud” to see her oldest daughter, London, starting second grade and her son, Lincoln, “walk into Kindergarten at the same school as his big sister.”

However, while the mom is so excited for London and Lincoln, she admitted that she is also sad about the fact that she won’t be getting the one-on-one time she was looking forward to having with her late son River while his siblings were at school.

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Back to school. Man. The full gamut of emotions today. So happy and proud for London entering 2nd grade. So excited for Lincoln to be able to walk into Kindergarten at the same school as his big sister. Yet, I’m also so sad they won’t have their little brother bouncing and running down the halls, making everyone laugh at drop off. I would normally be going home with just River for another year before he started pre-k. I was so excited to have the one on one time with him while big bro and sis were at school. He was already belting out his “ABCD’s” and teaching me the difference between an excavator and front loader. But sometimes the plans we make for ourselves don’t come to pass. Sometimes God has another path for you, your family, and your heart. This sucks and it will suck for the rest of my life, but I’m choosing to make the most out of the hand that we’ve been dealt. I’m choosing to smile, through tears, and get excited for London and Linc because they need and deserve that. I’m going to focus on living a life of meaning for River’s honor, creating the foundation in his name to help others, and getting closer to Jesus and my family & friends than I’ve ever been. Not today Satan. If you’re having a hard time, going through a “why god” season, and your life isn’t what you planned it to be, “you CAN do it”. You have a purpose. Your grief and joy can coexist. It’s not over yet. Just dig deep. Fight when you can and hit your knees when you can’t. Let’s all pray for our kiddos and our teachers and our schools. May God be by their side every step of the way. ?? ? ✏️ And thank you ALL for your words of encouragement, kindness & love. They really help my mama heart. ❤️ Matthew 11:28

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She wrote:

Back to school. Man. The full gamut of emotions today. So happy and proud for London entering 2nd grade. So excited for Lincoln to be able to walk into Kindergarten at the same school as his big sister. Yet, I’m also so sad they won’t have their little brother bouncing and running down the halls, making everyone laugh at drop off.

I would normally be going home with just River for another year before he started pre-k. I was so excited to have the one on one time with him while big bro and sis were at school. He was already belting out his “ABCD’s” and teaching me the difference between an excavator and front loader. But sometimes the plans we make for ourselves don’t come to pass. Sometimes God has another path for you, your family, and your heart.

The mom continued:

This sucks and it will suck for the rest of my life, but I’m choosing to make the most out of the hand that we’ve been dealt. I’m choosing to smile, through tears, and get excited for London and Linc because they need and deserve that. I’m going to focus on living a life of meaning for River’s honor, creating the foundation in his name to help others, and getting closer to Jesus and my family [and] friends than I’ve ever been. Not today Satan.

In an additional Instagram post, Amber also opened up about the statistics around how River passed away.

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We haven’t spoken much on drowning since the accident. We have focused more on loving those around you and living life the best you can while we are here on Earth. My heart is pulling me to speak now. For one, I wasn’t educated on drowning and how it’s the number one cause of death for children 1-4 years old. And statistically, more little boys drown than girls. Most drownings happen during NON SWIM TIMES, when little kids aren’t supposed to be around the pool, but somehow sneak away undetected (which means they are typically fully clothed, diaper and all, adding weight to their bodies). It takes under 30 seconds for a child to drown. It is QUICK and SILENT. We’ve read as quick as 6 seconds. Brain damage can occur from lack of oxygen in as little as 4 minutes, if you don’t get the heartbeat and breathing back from CPR. In our case, we were on the phone with 911, doing CPR, for 10 minutes before they arrived. He was almost brain dead before we left for the hospital, even though they got the heartbeat back at about 12 minutes. I’ve had people reach out to me, moms, grandmothers, dads, asking what they can do to help prevent this. —— While we are still learning, here are some things we would recommend – ***Infant survival classes – teaches them survival techniques, so they can possibly roll on their backs if they should fall in. ***Install a 4sided pool gate, with a lock. ***Get a second lock. ***Get a pool alarm. ***Don’t keep toys in the pool area, as kids are curious and may try to get in to reach toys. ***Learn CPR ***Enroll in swim lessons earlier ***Puddle jumpers lead to a false sense of security in the water ———- Remember that even with preparation, the unthinkable can happen. We aren’t always in control. Mostly, love your children like crazy. Be present with them. You never know what life will bring your way. This can happen to ANYONE – to good, loving, attentive parents. We thought we were prepared with lessons, pool gates and locks but it wasn’t enough. Thank you all for your continued prayers, love and support during this time. I hope we can help at least one person with this info. ❤️?#livelikeriv

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She wrote, in part:

We haven’t spoken much on drowning since the accident. We have focused more on loving those around you and living life the best you can while we are here on Earth. My heart is pulling me to speak now.

For one, I wasn’t educated on drowning and how it’s the number one cause of death for children 1-4 years old. And statistically, more little boys drown than girls. Most drownings happen during NON-SWIM TIMES when little kids aren’t supposed to be around the pool, but somehow sneak away undetected (which means they are typically fully clothed, diaper and all, adding weight to their bodies). It takes under 30 seconds for a child to drown. It is QUICK and SILENT. We’ve read as quick as 6 seconds. Brain damage can occur from lack of oxygen in as little as 4 minutes if you don’t get the heartbeat and breathing back from CPR.

In our case, we were on the phone with 911, doing CPR, for 10 minutes before they arrived. He was almost brain dead before we left for the hospital, even though they got the heartbeat back at about 12 minutes.

Amber also said that so many people have reached out to her, “asking what they can do to help prevent this.” She added that while they are still learning themselves, she recommended these eight suggestions:

  • Infant survival classes – teaches them survival techniques, so they can possibly roll on their backs if they should fall in.
  • Install a 4-sided pool gate, with a lock.
  • Get a second lock.
  • Get a pool alarm.
  • Don’t keep toys in the pool area, as kids are curious and may try to get in to reach toys.
  • Learn CPR
  • Enroll in swim lessons earlier
  • Puddle jumpers lead to a false sense of security in the water

Nonetheless, as she continued, it sometimes doesn’t matter how prepared you are because “this can happen to anyone.”

The mom concluded that “if you’re having a hard time, going through a ‘why god’ season and your life isn’t what you planned it to be ‘you CAN do it.’ You have a purpose. Your grief and joy can coexist. It’s not over yet. Just dig deep. Fight when you can and hit your knees when you can’t. Let’s all pray for our kiddos and our teachers and our schools. May God be by their side every step of the way.  And thank you ALL for your words of encouragement, kindness, [and] love. They really help my mama-heart.”

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Amber Smith Opens up About Being Happy and Sad as Oldest Kids Go of to School Following River’s Passing

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