People can hate on cliche quotes about living your life like each day is your last, but when you’re the one who’s actually experiencing a tragedy, those sayings can feel more true than ever. Losing your loved ones is one of the darkest things that a human being can go through, and we all dread that moment.
James Alvarez knows that best – on August 11, 2020, when he was taking a sunset walk in Anaheim, California, his 23-year-old wife Yesenia Aguilar passed away. She was 8 months pregnant with their daughter at the time. To this day, James has trouble seeing sunsets without thinking of that horrible day.
Although the accident took Yesenia’s life, the paramedics were able to save her daughter’s life. James named her Adalyn Rose, a name that the couple picked out together. A 40-year-old driver named Courtney Pandolfi, who had previous issues with drunk driving (three prior convictions to be exact), ruined the lives of this family when she jumped the curb and hit Yesenia.
Although Yesenia was tragically lost, their 35-week-old daughter survived via an emergency C-section the same day of the accident. He brought the little girl home from the hospital 3 weeks after her mother passed away due to the DUI driver’s thoughtless actions. After he came home, Alvarez made people all over the world weep when he said to TODAY, “I miss my wife. She should be here with us. She should be here for all the beautiful moments.”
James ultimately decided to pay tribute to the mother of his child in the most touching way possible. On the one-year anniversary of his wife’s passing, he took something unthinkable and turned it into a photoshoot that recreated his late wife’s pregnancy photoshoot with their baby girl Adalyn.
Shortly before the accident, James and his wife had a stunning maternity photoshoot to celebrate the life they were bringing into the world. In the images, Adalyn dressed up like her mother wearing a light pink dress and took pictures in the exact same place that the maternity photoshoot took place.
They even did the same poses and made sure that the event was recreated just as it took place. Here, we see little Adalyn in a tulle adaptation of her mother’s gorgeous pink gown. She’s wearing a lovely rose headband that goes perfectly with the ballerina-inspired outfit.
In the pictures, James’ love for his family truly shines through. The photoshoot was obviously an extremely emotional event for James, as it brought back memories of his wife. He fought back the tears during the new photoshoot but made sure he kept a smile on his face since he had a feeling his wife was looking down on him. In his words, “Seeing my daughter that day made me realize how much she looks like her mommy. Beautiful as her mommy.”
Ever since his wife passed away, James Alvarez has been putting one foot in front of the other, focusing on the future and his daughter. Her joy and love for her dad are clear from the photos, and he expands that she can light up a room with her positive and inspiring personality, which she got from her mom.
It’s safe to say that what James and his daughter went through is a harrowing experience that would be a nightmare for anyone. But despite surviving this challenging event, James is thankful for his support system and has hope that his story will show others: no matter what the world throws your way, “you’ll be able to overcome it.”
This year marks Adalyn Rose’s very first birthday. The photoshoot took place in a nature setting, alongside flowers and trees. She enjoyed a delicious layer cake which she finished off with a frosting topped nose and hands.
The 37-year-old Alvarez is now seen as a parenting inspiration and has amassed over 96,000 followers on Instagram. While his day job is being an injury investigator at a law firm, he now also does motivational speaking. His mom helps out with Adalyn when he’s working.
James admitted that he still finds comfort by regularly talking to his late wife, who gives him strength and guides him in his journey of fatherhood. Here’s to hoping that these two only have good things happen in their lives from here on out and that even though she shared a heart-wrenching tragedy, it made their bond even closer in the end.