Granger Smith and wife Amber's youngest child, son River, was 3 years old when he died following a tragic drowning accident at home last June

By Jen Juneau
June 08, 2020 01:50 PM
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Amber Smith and son River
Amber Smith/Instagram. Inset: Jamie McCarthy/Getty

Amber Smith is reflecting on the awful day she, husband Granger Smith and their two older children said goodbye to the youngest member of their family, 3-year-old River Kelly.

The little boy drowned in a tragic accident at home last June. And on Saturday, Amber posted a heartbreaking recollection of the events of the day when she learned her son "wouldn't return to our home," exactly one year later.

"One year ago today, we took our 'honor walk' as we walked behind our sweet son down the long hallway to the operating room," she began, after noting the date of June 6, 2019. "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," Amber continued.

She went on to say that "was the day Granger and I vowed to not let this break our family," recalling how she and her country-singer husband, 40, "now had to tell [son Lincoln Monarch, 6, and daughter London, 8½, that] their brother wasn't coming home."

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The Smith children
Amber Smith/Instagram

The couple arrived home to bittersweet messages from their two older children, in the form of chalk hearts drawn on the pavement outside their home that read "Welcome home Riv!"

Amber says she "could tell by [London's] face" that the little girl already knew what the bad news was going to be, before they went "out into the woods where Riv always played" and "held each other," while Amber and Granger "had one of the hardest conversations I hope we ever have to have" with London and Lincoln.

"Today, one year ago, began our trek down this rocky road of grief," she continues in her post, which began with a photo of the chalk drawings and also included snapshots of a smiling River with his siblings. "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."

Amber shares that the Smith brood is now "stronger by His grace," as they "have learned so much about ourselves and our family and our God" over the difficult last 12 months.

"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," she wrote, concluding, "Hebrews 11:1 ✝️🌈🦋⚡️🦖🚜🎈."

Granger Smith and son River
Courtesy Smith Family

RELATED VIDEO: Granger Smith Reveals Final Special Moment He Shared with Son River That Suddenly Turned to Tragedy

The "Backroad Song" crooner's rep confirmed to PEOPLE on June 6, 2019, that River's death was due to a drowning accident at home.

"Amber and I made the decision to say our last goodbyes and donate his organs so that other children will be given a second chance at life," Smith wrote, sharing along with a smiley photo of himself and River.

"Our family is devastated and heartbroken, but we take solace in knowing he is with his Heavenly Father," he added.

Amber has since shared updates from home both on her Instagram account and on their family YouTube channel — the latter of which they celebrated the one-year anniversary of this past March.

"We could never have imagined all that we would go through in 1 year," she captioned a family photo on March 19. "Tremendous heartache but also tremendous joy. Thank you for following along, subscribing, commenting, sharing, praying, and just encouraging our family. We are so grateful. All our love xoxo."