Ashley Judd opened up about the pain of being without her mom Naomi Judd ahead of her first Mother’s Day alone.
Nearly one week after the country icon’s shocking death by suicide at the age of 76, the 54-year-old actress penned an emotional essay for USA Today about not having her momma by her side this Sunday. Ashley began by candidly commenting that “it wasn’t supposed to be this way,” saying:
“This Sunday is abruptly, shockingly, my first Mother’s Day without my mama. She died just hours before her peers at the Country Music Hall of Fame could demonstrate to her how much they esteem her. She died just days before my sister and I could show her again how much we love and honor her. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. I was supposed to visit her on Sunday, to give her a box of old-fashioned candy, our family tradition. We were supposed to have sweet delight in each others’ easy presence. Instead, I am unmoored.”
However, she expressed that her “heart is not empty” at this time. In fact, the humanitarian shared that “it is replete with gratitude for what she left behind” such as “her nurture and tenderness, her music and memory.” But while she may have so much love in her heart, Ashley noted that it is also filled with “incandescent rage” due to the fact that Naomi “was stolen from me by the disease of mental illness, by the wounds she carried from a lifetime of injustices that started when she was a girl.”
In the piece, the Divergent star went on to open up that motherhood happened to Noami “without her consent” when she had an “unintended pregnancy at age 17” that led her “down a road familiar to so many adolescent mothers, including poverty and gender-based violence.” She continued:
“Forgive me if my grief isn’t tidy. When I think about my mother, I am awash in the painful specifics. It’s a little easier, this Mother’s Day, to think about mothers in the collective, to wonder whether we value them.”
So that is what she did. Ashley then pivoted the essay, calling out the ways in which society has failed to take care of women, writing:
“So often, motherhood happens because of violence, because of neglect, because schools and health systems fail to provide reproductive health information, because they fail to teach the right of individuals to make their own choices about sex and contraception.”
The Double Jeopardy star shared that she “never took my bodily autonomy for granted,” but recognized that “this right is denied to hundreds of millions of girls and women, especially the poorest and those facing discrimination and racial injustice.” Seemingly referencing the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion on Roe v. Wade, she questioned:
“We see it in the most disadvantaged places. And we see it in our own country. Motherhood should always be a choice. Does that sound radical to you? How much could we, as a society, possibly value motherhood when it is assumed to be an inevitability? When we accept as normal that women and girls will drop out of school and the workforce because they are expected to take on the unpaid labor of childcare? When we fail to protect girls from poverty and violence?”
Concluding her post, Ashley described her momma as “a legend”:
“She was an artist and a storyteller, but she had to fight like hell to overcome the hand she was dealt, to earn her place in history. She shouldn’t have had to fight that hard to share her gifts with the world.”
And for Mother’s Day, Ashley vowed “to honor my mama for the person she was, a mother and so much more” before asking everyone to do the same as well:
“And I ask you to honor your own mother, if you are lucky enough to have her. Honor her for more than her labor and sacrifice. Honor her for her talents and dreams. Honor her by demanding a world where motherhood, everywhere, is safe, healthy – and chosen.”
We are sending Ashley and his sister Wynonna Judd so much love on this Mother’s Day. You can read the activist’s candid essay HERE.
[Image via MEGA/WENN, Ivan Nikolov/WENN]