“This Sunday is abruptly, shockingly, my first Mother’s Day without my mama,” the Divergent actress, 54, wrote in a USA Today essay on Friday, May 6. “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 [Wynonna Judd] and I could show her again how much we love and honor her.”
Ashley continued: “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. But my heart is not empty. It is replete with gratitude for what she left behind. Her nurture and tenderness, her music and memory.”
Wynonna, 57, and Ashley announced on April 30 that their mother had died at the age of 76.
“Today we sisters experienced a tragedy. We lost our beautiful mother to the disease of mental illness,” their statement, shared via the Heat actress’ social media, read at the time. “We are shattered. We are navigating profound grief and know that as we loved her, she was loved by her public. We are in unknown territory.”
One day later, the late Kentucky native and her eldest daughter were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame for their legacy as musical duo The Judds.
“I didn’t prepare anything tonight because I knew mom would probably talk the most,” Wynonna said during the May 1 induction ceremony. “I’m gonna make this fast, because my heart’s broken, and I feel so blessed. It’s a very strange dynamic, to be this broken and this blessed. … Though my heart’s broken, I will continue to sing, because that’s what we do.”
The former nurse and Wynonna formed the mother-daughter band in 1983, eventually winning five Grammy Awards together. After disbanding the group in 1991 amid Naomi’s battle with Hepatitis C, they performed for the first time in 30 years at the 2022 CMT Awards to sing “Love Can Build a Bridge.”
Since grieving the loss of their mother, the Judd sisters have been vocal about honoring her memory.
“Your outpouring is reaching me. Thank you for every thought, prayer, message, text, email, post, expression,” the Double Jeopardy star captioned a Monday, May 2 Instagram post. “We each are alone and we are in fellowship, broken and held, protected from nothing and sustained in everything. It’s the beginning of an old story, life and death, loss and life. Be free, my beautiful mother. Be free.”