On June 2, Ashley Grimm’s worst fear came true. The 31-year-old from Emmett, Idaho, was driving a van with her five kids inside when a large rock rolled into their lane. Her 4-year-old son, Titus, who was thrown from the vehicle, died instantly.
In a July 15 Facebook post that has since gone viral, Grimm revealed Titus was not wearing his seatbelt on the evening of the horrific crash.
“We tried five-point harness seats, boosters, I believe even zip ties at one point (probably not safe either) but he always viewed it as a superhero challenge,” Grimm wrote. “On average, I would usually pull over three or four times on any given trip to firmly make him up buckle up again.”
Unbeknownst to Grimm, when their Ford Econoline flipped over, Titus was in the process of switching seats with his 8-year-old brother, Jude. “The little boy who had been my pride and joy was cruelly taken from me in a matter of seconds,” Grimm wrote. “I worked with all my might to lift the heavy van off his tiny body. [Jude] was trying to help me. I could only see the lower half of his body. I rubbed his tummy and tried gentle compressions. But he was already gone.”
The other children in the van were not injured.
Soon after the story was reported on the local news, Internet trolls came out in full force. “[People] commented the cruelest things about how horrible of a mother I was. How I deserved it. How my children should be taken from me,” Grimm revealed. “I wanted to punch them, shake them. Tell them how close we were, how hard I fought to keep him safe.”
But instead, Grimm shared eight pieces of advice with other parents:
— Maybe finishing broccoli at dinner isn’t as important as we might think. Watch how your children eat, soak in their hatred for corn (oh, how Titus hated corn). Maybe they can still have ice cream – even just sometimes – while those veggies still sit on their plate.
— Learn to pretend. Get into their world. Learn to play the Xbox with them. Embrace their beautiful, fleeting imagination. Let them really believe that they are Captain America or Queen Elsa. Get in their mind, see how they tick. The dishes will still be there.
— Take every hug and kiss they bring you – even the twenty-fifth one they use just to get out of bed at night. And really squeeze them.
— Stop and look at the bugs, the rocks, the sticks, the sunset. Slow down, mama, slow down.
— Tell them you love them. But look in their eyes and say it like you mean it. Tell them they can do anything – anything they set their mind to.
— Yes, we must hold them accountable, but sometimes — maybe grace is the answer. Maybe, just maybe, they won’t end up ruined if we let some things slide.
— Never judge another mama. We don’t know the whole story, we don’t know. We just don’t know.
— Go hug your babies right now. Soak in their smell, look at the innocent sparkle in their eyes that is lost somewhere between childhood and adulthood. Really feel how they squeeze you. Set down your phone and see them through the lens of your eyes, not only the lens of your camera. Remember the feeling of their head on your shoulder, their hand in yours, their sloppy kisses on your cheeks. Nurse them one more time. Sleep is overrated. Listen five minutes longer about Star Wars, minecraft and Disney princesses.
The Facebook post has been shared nearly 380,000 times.
“I see so many moms on their phones — and I was one of them too — as their children call, “Watch this, mama!’ or ‘look what I found!’” Grimm tells Us Weekly. “In this day and age, where technology is taking over every aspect of our lives, we have lost the ability to just live.”
Grimm — who is also the mom of Jonathan, 12, Hannah, 9, Camille, 9, Jude 8, Arielle, 6, and Alice, 19 months, yearns for Titus every single day. “Titus would always insist he loved me most, but I assured him that wasn’t possible,” she tells Us. “He once told me, ‘When I grow up, I’m gonna marry you, Mom.’ Titus had the kindest, sweetest heart. He believed he was a protector of all, but especially his sisters and his mama.”
She continues: “His favorite subject ever was superheroes. Every day he said he was a different superhero. He really loved Superman and the Flash. He would always tell me to watch him run, then say, ‘You didn’t even see me did ya? That’s cause I am so fast.’”
Titus was buried in a Superman costume on June 9.
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