One of the most pivotal moments in a person's life is when they have a child. Not only are you adding to the next generation of future leaders, but you're also gaining someone new to love and treasure.
Unfortunately there devastating situations where expecting fathers never get the opportunity to meet their precious child. This rings true for U.S. Army Spc. Chris Harris, who was killed last August while serving in Afghanistan.
A suicide bomber attacked his NATO convoy, just one week after he got the happiest news of his life.
His wife, Britt Harris, had just told the soldier that they were expecting their first child over FaceTime, where the then 25-year-old showed him her handmade onesie, which said, "Chris you're going to be a DAD!"
"I was devastated, to say the least. I felt like I couldn’t breathe; my heart literally and physically hurt," Harris told PEOPLE.
"I didn’t want to eat, sleep or speak to anyone, but I made myself get up and keep going to make sure my pregnancy was healthy. I forced myself to be as healthy as I could no matter how bad I wanted to just lay in bed and cry," she explained.
But despite her husband's untimely death, Harris made sure his presence would be felt during the course of her pregnancy.
Back in October, Harris had enlisted her husband's "army brothers" (from the 2nd Battalion, 504th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82 Airborne Division, also known as the "Devil Brigade") to help reveal the gender of her unborn child in the sweetest announcement possible.
After one of the soldiers posted the video on YouTube, it became flooded with kind and supportive comments for both the soldiers and the expecting mother.
"This breaks my heart but makes me happy at the same time. I love how excited these soldiers are for their fallen brother! Take care of that mama, she’ll need it. ❤️," Lacey Kopera wrote.
"Thank you all for your service. May you rest in Paradise, Chris Harris. My heart goes out to his Widow, little girl and family," Yliana Vera, also commented.
"Thank you all for being so incredibly brave. Sending love from home. God bless you all, as well as Chris Harris' wife and baby girl," another user wrote.
On March 17, Harris gave birth to her daughter, Christian Michelle Harris - who she named after her late husband.
"The moment I saw Christian I cried and held her to my chest. I couldn’t believe she was finally in my arms," Harris shared. "I finally had something so beautiful that brought me the most amazing feeling."
While Harris took her own pictures to celebrate her newborn's arrival, she wanted to take professional photos of her precious baby girl - and incorporate her beloved troops in all of the shots.
Coincidently, the Devil Brigade returned from their mission in Afghanistan on the day of Christian's birth, which made the occasion even more special.
"Knowing that we could come home to a baby girl, that was awesome," Sgt. Nathan Arthur Bagley told CBS. "When everyone came home, that was the day she was born so that made it ten times better."
Harris decided to hire North Carolina-based Pinehurst Photography to capture the heartwarming meeting between Christian and her father's army brothers, which came out absolutely stunning.
On May 29, the newborn was dressed in a onesie with the words "My Daddy’s My Hero" written on the front with and "SPC Chris Harris" underneath, while the 20 soldiers in attendance were adorning their full uniform.
"They’ve been a part of her life before she was even born and I know they’re going to be around for the rest of her life," Harris told USA TODAY. "No matter where the army takes them all I will be able to show Christian how they all came together for her."
Harris took the photo shoot as an opportunity to reflect on the life of her cherished husband, whose legacy will surely live on through his daughter.
"Chris was wonderful," she said. "His happiness was contagious and everyone that met him wanted to be his friend. He was full of life and never knew a dull moment."
"I want Chris to be forever remembered. I want his name mentioned as often as possible. I want people to tell stories about the good times they had with him," the proud mother added.
When asked on what advice she'd give to other individuals who've lost their partner under devastating circumstances, Harris said even if it seems impossible, you can move on with your life, while still honoring the person you've lost.
"Just keep waking up every day. Keep doing the things you want to give up on," she said.
"Do whatever it takes to keep moving forward because I promise someone out there is looking up to you," she added. "Someone else sees you as an inspiration even though you might feel like your life is falling apart."
Remembering Specialist Harris with a very special reunion. ❤️Posted by Pinehurst Photography on Tuesday, May 29, 2018
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