COLUMBIA, S.C. — A Midlands family is grieving the loss of a beloved Midlands mother of ten who never even got to hold her newborn baby girl after COVID-19 stole her life from them.
Ashley Harris Bennett was a mother of 10. Her big sister Courtney Bucknam says, "She was pretty amazing."
"She lit up the room when she came in the room."
Bucknam says Ashley adored her family, and they adored her, "She was their sun to their world. Being a mother was Ashely's true purpose in life."
Ashley helped with the school band and volunteered at the Lexington Fire Department. "She was the first female to complete the Lexington Fire Academy," Bucknam says.
Bucknam says Ashley was her soul sister, "Everybody did refer to us as a true ride or die. She truly was my best friend."
In mid-December, Ashley tested positive for COVID-19 at 34 weeks pregnant with baby number 10. Ashley's doctor decided it would be best to deliver the baby. Eliza Bennett was born on January 1st and, with a little help, baby Eliza pulled through. Ashley, however, didn't. Seven days after giving birth, she passed away.
"Ashley never got to hold Eliza."
Richland County coroner Naida Rutherford confirmed Ashley died from COVID-19.
Bucknam says Ashley's time in the hospital was the longest she'd ever gone not speaking to her baby sister, "When I'm in the car, she was always the person I would call. We always ended our conversations the same way, we said we loved each other."
A mother of three herself, Bucknam said she's so proud of her nieces and nephews, who range in age from 18 down to a newborn.
"I just know she is smiling down, and she is so proud of them."
Now, Bucknam is urging everyone to take every precaution they can to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. "I just wish everybody took it serious."
"Ashley was 36, had no underlying health conditions," Bucknam said. "It can happen to anybody."
Bucknam says Ashley's passing has left a hole in life.
Her message for her baby sister? "I would tell her I love her. I wish we could go back and fix it, and she didn't get sick, but I just want her to know how much I love her."
A GoFundMe Page has been set up in Ashley's honor.
Courtney says Ashley loved Thanksgiving dinner, so the family will continue to host dinner in her honor. She also says Ashley loved carrot cake, so she'll be learning how to make carrot cake for her sister.