It's been a painful year for Granger Smith and his family. The country star and his wife Amber Barlett tragically lost their son River eight months ago in a drowning accident, and the couple is still recovering.
On Instagram, Granger opened up about how he's been coping, while simultaneously honoring his wife and her strength for their 10-year wedding anniversary. He shared a behind-the-scenes image of the couple kissing, with a caption that touches upon love, pain, and loss.
"What you see: a couple seemingly in love. Living out the fairytale story draped in the sunset sky with a blue wood planked porch, white antique rocking chair, barefoot, sun kissed hair and summer tanned skin. A couple without a care in the world because LOVE has so consumed them," he wrote.
But the "Happens Like That" singer also alluded to how social media can paint an all-too-rosy picture. "What I see: 2 people in a storm. Hanging on to God for truth and guidance like a lone fence post in a ravaging wind," he explained. "I see a girl hurting. Drawing on unimaginable strength just to continue on with necessary motherly duties. Clinging to the Bible like it’s a life raft hurdling through an unknown sea. I see a man, savagely battling a relentless demon. Shielded only by Faith and masking the crippling weakness brought on by his deep shame; his failure as a father."
He said that, despite their pain and loss, the couple is stronger than ever. "It’s not the fairytale, but the vulnerability that fuels the fire. The very essence of what makes us human... bounded by integrity and truth but still fundamentally flawed... that makes our love mature," he said. "I guess I just want to say that today is our 10 year wedding anniversary. And I love @amberemilysmith a whole bunch. And it will take more than 'til death do us part."
Amber shared the same photo to her Instagram page, with words of her own:
"The other day Granger reposted a caption and photo of mine and said he wouldn’t change a thing. Sitting here crying in my car, I just asked him to send me his same post so I could do the same (it won’t fit in my caption space so please go to his page and read it @grangersmith)," he said. "All of this is real, raw and so true. And I wouldn’t change but one thing. He’s not and never will be a failure to me. Happy 10 my warrior husband. No one else I would rather walk me Home than you @grangersmith ❤️"
Amber also posted a tribute to Instagram last week, following the eight-month anniversary of River's death.
"8 months since I kissed his sweet face," she shared next to a photo of her three kids, Lincoln, London, and the late River. Amber said she has been struggling with anger and sadness, adding that she's also been feeling sick. "Honestly, sometimes you just have to be present and sit in the suck for a little bit, feel it and then pick back up again," she said.
She's leaning on her faith to get through this difficult time. "I felt God so closely for the last few months. I feel like he’s been a little more silent lately but I’m ok with that," she said, quoting a friend from Bible study: "'We are so lucky because we have God’s word. Even when we feel like he’s silent, he’s not. We can read his word, he’s always speaking to us.' I love that. I’m resting in that. 🙏🏼"
Granger broke the devastating news of his son's death last June.
"I have to deliver unthinkable news. We've lost our youngest son, River Kelly Smith," he wrote in a vulnerable caption alongside a photo of him and River. "Following a tragic accident, and despite doctor’s best efforts, he was unable to be revived."
"Our family is devastated and heartbroken, but we take solace in knowing he is with his Heavenly Father. Riv was special. 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," he continued. "If there are words to say more, I cannot find them in this moment. Love the ones close to you. There has never been a more difficult moment for us than this."
When the eight-month anniversary of his son's death passed last week, he shared a sweet photo to Instagram with a special tribute to River.
"We can’t change the past. We can’t predict the future. We can only control what’s absolutely present," he said in the caption. "Sure, we can reminisce. Of course we should dream, plan ahead and set goals. But true peace? That’s ONLY found in the now. The little moments. So let’s open our eyes and soak em up. 🦋"
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