A PONTYPOOL widow has spoken of her “emotional rollercoaster year” in which she lost her “irreplaceable” childhood sweetheart just months after their wedding — only to find out she was pregnant with his baby, who she now calls “her saving grace”.
Rhiannon Llewellyn lost her sports-coach husband Dale to a sudden blood clot in January last year, but after switching doctor’s two months later she was told she was expecting.
The couple had already experienced the heartbreak of a miscarriage in the short time between getting married and the popular local rugby player’s unexpected death, aged just 25.
But five months ago, Mrs Llewellyn gave birth to a six-pound-one-ounce baby girl — Grace Evie-Dale Llewellyn — who she said was born with her daddy’s smile.
“You could not have written the last year,” said Mrs Llewellyn, 25, from Talywain.
“Dale was a true young gentleman, irreplaceable, full of life and laughter with a heart of gold and a beaming smile.
“I’m utterly honoured to be his wife and the mother to his precious little princess.
“Words cannot begin to describe how much I love and miss my Dale.
“But out of that heartbreak came something so beautiful and precious.
“He would be so proud and totally besotted with her. She would have been the apple of her daddy’s eye.
“I will never let a day go by without telling her about her amazing daddy, ,now the brightest star in the sky.”
Grace’s mother, who is honouring her late-husband’s wish – made ahead of the tragic miscarriage – not to have pictures of any child they had online, said it was a “symbolic name”.
“She is quite literally my saving grace,” Mrs Llewellyn added.
She said Grace had already developed an attachment to her dad, regularly falling asleep holding a gold pendant with his face on it - an inscription on the back reads: ‘Don’t count each day, make each day count’.
“He lived his life by that motto,” Mrs Llewellyn said. “Grace finds comfort in holding it to send her off to sleep.”
On the day that her husband died – January 2 – Mrs Llewellyn was just six weeks pregnant – unbeknown to either of them.
She said he got up that morning having trouble breathing, but shortly after a paramedic arrived Mr Llewellyn – who played for both Talywain RFC and Garndiffaith RFC – collapsed.
He was rushed to Neville Hall Hospital, with his mum, Cheryl - a nurse - among those fighting to save him.But that afternoon he was pronounced dead.
Mrs Llewellyn said: “It was the worst day of my life. He was such a fit lad you just couldn’t believe it.
“I think of him every day.”
Mrs Llewellyn said she was sick regularly over the next two months, but she put it down to stress.
“I wasn’t eating much, and there was so much to arrange with the funeral. It was just gut-wrenching. I just thought the sickness was my body reacting.
Then in March she was told she was pregnant.
“I was utterly overhwhelmed,” she added. “It was definitely bitter sweet.”
The couple first got together aged 16, as pupils at St Alban’s RC High School in Pontypool.
She said they became “inseparable”.
They were wed, in August 2012, at St Peter’s Church, Blaenavon – the same church where his funeral was held.
Mr Llewellyn, was remembered in several memorial matches held over the last 12 months, along with pontypool rugby ‘legend’ Keith ‘Beefy’ Jones who died on the same day, after previously being diagnosed with cancer.
It is estimated that charitable fundraising, including donations collected at the funeral, topped the £6,000 mark.
Mrs Llewellyn said: “From family, to friends and those from the various local clubs I can’t say how brilliant the support has been.”