On Aug. 11, 2020, James Alvarez, 37, and his wife Yesenia, 23, who was 35 weeks pregnant at the time, were out on their daily walk when Yesenia was hit by an alleged drunk driver.
“Nothing was different that day except we took a different route,” James, a Los Angeles intake specialist said. “We were preparing for the baby’s arrival and deciding on curtains.”
James says there was a store around the corner from where the couple lived, and they decided to take their walk back home the long way.
“I remember holding her hand and talking about curtains and then we heard screeching and screaming,” James said. “We turned around and saw the car hop the sidewalk and head in our direction.”
All of a sudden, James couldn’t feel Yesenia’s hand anymore.
“I remember the ambulance arriving and telling them ‘please try to save her and if you can’t, please try to save our daughter,'” James said.
Sadly, James wasn’t allowed in the ambulance due to Covid-19 protocols. When he arrived at the hospital, he and his in-laws were told that Yesenia had died.
Adalyn, however, was successfully delivered via emergency C-section. She was given CPR and placed on a ventilator due to a lack of oxygen for about 20 minutes.
“When they told me my daughter survived, I was in shock,” James said. “I was like ‘you told me my wife passed away because of injuries, but my daughter’s alive?’ and they said yes.”
While doctors were afraid Adalyn’s lack of oxygen could have long-lasting effects, James said she’s been healthy to this day.
“The doctor said she was going to be there for months, but the second day, they took her off the ventilator because she was breathing on her own,” James said. “I believe she’s a miracle child, everything she was facing through her birth, she overcame it.”
Adalyn, James says, has helped him to go on after losing his wife.
“The biggest lesson my daughter has taught me is to be a fighter too,” he said. “She gave me the strength I needed to carry on.”
Thus for Adalyn’s first birthday, James recreated maternity photos he and Yesenia had taken while she was pregnant with their daughter.
“Adalyn’s birthday was coming up and unfortunately her birthday is the same day I lost my wife,” James said. “I wanted to do something meaningful and special to celebrate her birthday and honor my wife.”
The photographer who took the couple’s maternity photos suggested reenacting the shoot with Adalyn. Dressed in a pink dress as her mother had worn, Adalyn and James posed in similar positions for the little girl’s birthday shoot.
“I had someone make a pink dress for my daughter to wear and we went to the same exact location, around the same time that we did the maternity shoot,” James said. “We tried to reenact it to make the pictures identical and it was truly amazing.”
James said he became emotional when he saw the photos side-by-side.
“It reminded me of the day we took those pictures and how beautiful my wife looked,” he added. “Looking at Adalyn dressed up like her mom, it was very emotional and touching. It reminded me how proud and how happy my wife would be seeing how gorgeous she is.
“My daughter will never know my wife like I did, but I hope I can one day show her all these beautiful moments and explain to her exactly how her mommy was and commemorate my wife.”
Now, James says he wants to tell his story to inspire others and to keep his wife’s memory alive.
“I share my story to help others overcome their battles,” he said. “I’m trying to be a great dad and make these memories for her and carry my wife’s legacy.
“I want people to know my wife was an amazing woman and she gave her life to save my daughter,” he added.
James says he couldn’t be more grateful to his wife, as he has his daughter because of her.
“She means the world to me and I don’t know what I would do losing both of them,” James said. “Seeing the pictures and seeing Adalyn dressed up like my wife, it reminded me that I still have a piece of my wife with me and that’s my daughter.”
Epoch Times staff contributed to this report.