Just five days after they officially became husband and wife, Dave passed away.
"He was laying back [before a physical therapy session] and all of a sudden he started going into a seizure," Jennifer recalls. "The whole time, all I could do was tell him it was okay and that I loved him. I was the last person he saw."
Though she wanted to grieve, Jennifer says she was forced to stay strong and stable for their unborn child. But things became more stressful for her when the coronavirus began spreading around the U.S. just one month before her daughter arrived.
"My family was right there with me and kept me calm so that I didn't go crazy thinking about how I am going to do this on my own," she says. "I'm already going to have to raise this baby by myself, but now you're telling me I have to push her out on my own?"
"I was angry, like 'You've got to be kidding me,'" adds Jennifer. "Everything else is on my plate and now you're gonna throw this on there? I'm like, 'This a test of something!'"
On April 24, little Davya — named after her father — made her first appearance in the world with Dave's cremated ashes on a nearby table. The whole time, Jennifer says she felt Dave's presence with her.
"He was there," she explains of the birth. "I had him there with little things I brought with me, and knowing that he was watching over us kept me calm."
After Dave died, Jennifer admits her "biggest concern" was one heartbreaking question: "What am I going to tell Davya when she's 10 and asks about dad?"
Her husband's former colleagues, the Florida Forest Service firefighters, said they'll be there to help.
"They told me, 'Don’t worry about that. We're all her uncles and will make sure she knows who her father is,'" says Jennifer, who adds she'll always remember her "loving, caring, silly and outgoing" husband's "open and big heart."
And though she's only a month old, Davya is already reminding her mother of Dave, from the way she looks to her funny sleeping positions.
"I'm sure she'll have a personality like him too," says Jennifer. "I just have a feeling."
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