Hailey Arbuckle Ray

‘I Knew I Wanted to Finish for Him’: Hailey Arbuckle-Ray Perseveres through Father’s Death

Life events bombarded recent graduate Hailey Arbuckle-Ray while on the path to becoming a respiratory therapist. The joy of a marriage proposal during her first semester would soon be cut short.

‘I Knew I Wanted to Finish for Him’: Hailey Arbuckle-Ray Perseveres through Father’s Death

Press Release from Coahoma Community College Public Relations; (662) 621-4057 - Melody Dixon

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Tue Jul 21, 2020

Arbuckle Ray

Life events bombarded recent graduate Hailey Arbuckle-Ray while on the path to becoming a respiratory therapist. The agony she experienced from her dad’s tragic car accident could have derailed her from completing the Respiratory Care program on time, but a slew of support encouraged perseverance. Additionally, the joy of starting her own family brought restorative hope.

“To know me is to definitely know I am a daddy’s girl,” said Arbuckle-Ray.

Gaining employment at the Bolivar Medical Center was on the other side of an unforeseen mountain, but the charge was to persist.

It was the beginning of the 2018 fall semester, and things were off to a good start. However, the joy of a marriage proposal would soon be cut short.

“I got engaged in September of 2018; my dad was killed in an accident in October of 2018,” she recalled.

The night’s rainy weather told of the dismay to come. At around 2 a.m., she received a call from her younger brother asking her to make an urgent trip to her parents’ home in Merigold, Mississippi.

“I never went one day in my 22 years without talking to him, so to say my heart was shattered was an understatement,” she explained.

The news of her father’s passing shook her world. She did not withdraw from school but contemplated it. Although missing a few class sessions, she set aside her depression and anger to reclaim her obligations.

“Honestly, what really got me back to school is I saw that Dr. Lockett and Jamerica, my classmate, came to my dad’s funeral,” she pointed out. “I decided to go back to school after my dad’s death, even though it was a huge challenge. I knew I wanted to finish for him.”

Ironically, she did not allow herself to get overwhelmed with all she had taken on. Working a job in between classes, she stayed so busy that there was no time to dwell on the emotional pain from her dad’s death.

A significant discovery redirected her attention. Preparing for motherhood overshadowed the tragedy as she found out she was with child just days later.

Determined to resist another possible setback from school, she continued attending classes until it came time to deliver her son, Easton Todd Ray, whom she named after her dad, Todd Arbuckle.

“During my fourth semester, the summer session, I never missed a day; nine months pregnant, I made it through, took my final and then went and welcomed my baby boy into the world that night,” she marveled.

“I was so broken after my dad passed and felt like I couldn’t breathe all day every day. I was miserable, really. Then, to find out I was pregnant and hearing the little heartbeat was the best feeling I’ve ever felt. He brought happiness and joy back into my life for sure!”

She spent only two weeks with her son before the 2019 fall semester began.

Easing her anxieties about being away from her newborn, her younger sister agreed to babysit. Her twin sister was also able to pitch in with babysitting help during her clinical in Jackson. The next move was to wed her high school sweetheart, Matt. He had been incredibly supportive during her pregnancy.

Last November, she had a black-and-white chapel wedding.

“Of course, every girl dreams of their wedding, and I always pictured it having my dad walk me down the aisle,” she said.

Her twin brothers walked her down the aisle in his place, and her husband built the arbor under which they said their I-do’s. Her brothers and her dad’s father filled in for the father-daughter dance.

Her dad’s mom surprised her with meaningful handiwork—a piece of her dad’s shirt sewn into her wedding dress.

“Even though I wanted my dad there so bad, I know he was there in spirit the entire day,” she added.

Ray Wedding

Ray Family