July 29, 2012
Jill Bailey Chenet was a wife, daughter, sister and a soon to be mom. The Salem, Va. native died on Wednesday after getting caught in rip currents of a North Carolina beach.
Jack Bailey, Jill's dad, describes her, "She could walk into a room and exactly that, the whole room would light up. her personality just exuded love."
The family of Jill Bailey Chenet says that love was evident to even strangers on the street - and especially to the hearing impaired children she taught in Washington, DC.
Jason Bailey, Jill's brother, adds, "Family & friends were everything to her and she was the best, not only at celebrating life and it sound totally cliche, but living life as if everyday was her last. She nailed it."
Jill and her husband, Matt were enjoying one last vacation as a couple before their little girl was born in November. But, a walk on an Outer Banks beach turned deadly. The couple fell off a sandbar and got swept into the water.
When they were rescued nearly 30-minutes later both Jill and Matt were clinging to life. Jill died shortly after. Matt has been released from the hospital.
Now, instead of planning baby showers, the family is preparing to say goodbye. Jason says, "We're changed people for the better because of her, she was an angel here on earth. She was utterly enthralled and excited about being a mom." Her dad adds, "It's all she wanted."
Jill expressed her excitement in her own words the day before she died. In a video tape, Jill said, "I thought you were a boy (laughing) and I was so happy when I found out it was a girl."
Her husband, a cinematographer, recorded this interview for the little girl they had named Olive.
Jill continues on the tape, "I'm almost 6-months, our baby girl is going to be here in 3-months, close to Thanksgiving, right around my birthday, and you asked me if I'm nervous, I'm not nervous at all about her coming, I'm so excited."
The family says these last images of a happy and glowing Jill embody the girl they called, "Tootie."
Now as they struggle with their grief they have a message for others.
Jack says, "Write a note to somebody, pick up the telephone because you might not have that chance again.. and she did that. She wrote us little notes all the time."
A scholarship in her name has been established at The River School where she taught in Washington, D.C.