Baby Aubrey lies cradled in her father’s motorcycle gloves – but no hands hold her. For her mum, Kathryn, the image is a powerful reminder of the man who will always be missing from her baby’s life. Aubrey was set to become daddy’s little girl to her father, Hector, but he had tragically been killed just a month before her birth.
Hector Daniel Ferrer Alvarez and Kathryn Seable Williams were one of those special couples: they had always been madly devoted to one another. Everyone knew that Hector was the love of Kathryn’s life, and when he proposed to her, they excitedly began to plan their future. And their excitement then turned to sheer joy when Kathryn discovered that she was pregnant with their first child.
Hector was just 25 years old when he and Kathryn told friends and family about their new addition. Moreover, his unborn child would complete his life. He did, however, have one other passion in his life: motorcycles.
And as Hector prepared for his new role as a father, he realized how important his safety was when on the road. His gear came to represent his love for his family. He would look after himself so he could look after them. But suddenly, one terrible day, Hector was no longer able to provide that security for Kathryn and her unborn child.
The father-to-be had done all he could to build a life for his growing family and watched as Kathryn’s bump grew. Just one month before Aubrey was born, however, he left the family home in Florida and never returned. He hadn’t been killed on the road, though.
Hector had in fact been hanging out with his motorcycle buddies in an office used for storage before local police discovered Hector’s body and confirmed that he had been fatally shot. Hector had been taken away from his family by someone whom he had thought of as a friend.
Hector’s death ripped Kathryn’s world apart. While eight months pregnant, she lost her future husband and the father of her unborn child. Despite having always taken care on the road, 25-year-old Hector was taken away from his family in unforeseeable circumstances.
The killing rocked their community, and Kathryn’s due date loomed as she came to terms with the loss of her soulmate. Baby Aubrey was born healthy and strong, but Kathryn knew she would always miss having Hector in her life. At that time, Kathryn had no idea that the bond between father and daughter could be captured so powerfully through a photograph.
Booked by Aubrey’s grandmother, the photoshoot was planned to freeze-frame Aubrey as she looked in her first weeks of life. Photographer Kim Stone had heard about the family’s sad news and knew that she would have to pull out all the stops. Reflecting on the photoshoot, she wrote, “This time, I really needed to pray before the session.”
Hector’s love for motorcycles had been a big part of his personality and his life, so Kathryn brought along his protective gear for the shoot. And although the memory of Hector was still painful, she wrapped Aubrey in the gloves, and they were the perfect size to cradle the baby’s head.
As Aubrey lay in her late father’s gloves, she apparently then broke into the biggest smile that Kathryn had ever seen her make. A split second later and the image might have been lost forever. But if there was a picture to prove that the paternal bond knows no limits, this was it.
“They say that angels are talking to babies when they smile in their sleep,” Kim later wrote on social media. “I guess that’s maybe true.” The photographer immediately jumped to work to capture the fleeting moment before it passed. But she wasn’t the only one who was feeling emotional.
Little Aubrey had no idea how happy she was making her mum as she lay wrapped in her dad’s gloves. Tears rolled down Kathryn’s cheeks as she saw a special connection form between the two people who she loved the most in the world. But no one could have predicted how powerful the image would be until they saw it for themselves.
The picture provided comfort to friends and family still grieving over Hector’s death. Kathryn furthermore vowed to make sure that Aubrey never forgot her daddy. In fact, she also made a promise to ensure his memory lived on through the baby girl.
However, those involved in the intimate shot could never imagine the public reaction. Photographer Kim had some sense of the powerful effect that the picture might have on people. Nevertheless, she was still amazed to see the level of emotion and attention that it generated after she posted it online.
In just three days, the image of the baby cradled in the biking gloves became a sensation. It was shared more than 65,000 times on social media. The public felt not only for little Aubrey but for the heart-wrenching story behind the photo.
Since then, many in the online world have expressed their affection for the family of two, while well-wishers have set up crowdfunding pages to ensure that Aubrey has the best start in life. And although Kathryn has begun her journey as a parent without her husband-to-be by her side, Aubrey has had prayers and love showered upon her. Kathryn has said that this support was simply “priceless.”
One woman described the heartbreak that the story made her feel on the “That’s What She Said” blog. “This is so sad [it] breaks my heart,” she wrote. “I just had my baby girl in April and don’t know what I would do if I was in this woman’s shoes.” Indeed, the story affected pretty much everyone who heard it.
Then the painful process of rebuilding their lives began for Kathryn and Aubrey. The strong mother fought to ensure that Hector’s role was officially remembered on Aubrey’s birth certificate. Using the thousands raised through donations, she began the process of DNA testing to provide the proof of paternity that was required.
More than seven million people have since seen the image and learnt Aubrey’s story. The peaceful baby in the photo will grow into a young lady who can cherish her father’s love for her. After all, not only was he a motorcycle enthusiast, but he was also a proud father, and this image represents the eternal love that Hector and Aubrey will always share.