Widow's Pregnancy Photo Shoot to Honor Late Military Husband Goes Viral
They aren't the pictures Krista Johnston planned, but they will take your breath away.
The day before explosive ordnance disposal specialist Sgt. James Johnston was deployed to Afghanistan, he and his wife, Krista Johnston, 24, found out they were expecting and "he was really looking forward to becoming a father," Johnston told Best Life. Tragically, Sgt. Johnston would never have that opportunity. A few months later, on June 25th, 2019, he was killed in action in Afghanistan, leaving behind his wife, who was four months pregnant at the time of his passing, and their unborn daughter. In the wake of his death, his widow did a pregnancy photo shoot to honor the father her child will never get to meet and the images will send chills down your spine.
When word of the tragedy spread in their hometown of Copperas Cove, Texas, many offered Johnston condolences and donations to help ease her pain. But when professional photographer Alicia Miller came across her story, she offered her something else entirely: a free pregnancy photo shoot to commemorate her late husband.
"Alicia's husband's in the army as well," Johnston said. "She wanted to give me something special, so she provided me with this beautiful photo session. It's something I'll be able to hang onto."
In mid-October, the two gathered on a Sunday in a field by the woods to take the photos. Johnston wore an ethereal white dress that Miller had rented for the occasion, and they included a variety of tokens to pay visual tribute to her husband: his identification tags, the American flag she received from his burial service, his ashes in one of her necklaces, and his favorite Hawaiian T-shirt.
"It was really emotional," Johnston said. "I'm not all that into taking photos, especially now, as it feels weird not having him here to do this with me. But I knew I'd regret it if I didn't do it, so I put my brave face on."
Miller shared the photos on her company Facebook page, Willow Tree Photography, and they were picked up by the Love What Matters Facebook page, where they received more than 8,000 likes in just two days. Many Facebook users commented with their condolences, blessings, gratitude, and praise for Johnston.
"Words cannot describe how much strength these pictures show," one Facebook user wrote. "I know she will be an amazing mother."
Johnston was shocked and moved by the response the photos received, especially from other people who had lost a spouse in combat.
"It was overwhelming," she said. "I've been so blessed to have so many people support me and give me all the kind words in the world."
While she is still very much in the process of figuring out how to get through such a harrowing experience, Johnston's advice to others who might be in the same position is to take their time and to lean on those around them.
"Don't be afraid to ask for help. Don't be afraid to take the time you need," she said. "Don't let anyone tell you what kind of process you should be going through or when you should move on."
Johnston also plans to name their baby daughter Jamie, in honor of her late husband, and to show her these photos one day.
And for another incredible photo shoot with a heartwarming backstory, take a look at These Wedding Photos of a Tribute to the Groom's Late Sister Are Truly Miraculous.
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