Naomi Judd’s husband, Larry Strickland, was terrified of his late wife taking a flight alone because he knew she was in a “fragile” state.
The Grammy winner, who died on April 30, flew solo from Austria to Nashville for the Country Music Hall of Fame ceremony. The event took place one day after her death.
“I was really scared to death about her flying alone all the way from Vienna back to Nashville cause I knew how fragile she was,” Strickland, 76, recalled during CMT’s “Naomi Judd: A River of Time” special on Sunday.
The North Carolina native noted that Judd made it to Tennessee “without a problem,” sharing a message from a stranger that the Judds member met during the flight.
“It’s a small comfort, I’m sure, but my life seems a lot richer after meeting your wife, however briefly,” the email read.
“Obviously, I didn’t know Naomi at all, but I can tell you she spoke highly and warmly of you, and the life you shared together. Rest assured she loved you and had no qualms about telling me, a stranger on a plane, that was so.”
Strickland, who choked up while reading the letter, said that the note provided him “great, great pleasure and comfort.”
The songwriter’s daughters, Ashley and Wynonna Judd, honored their late mom at the Ryman Auditorium event as well.
Wynonna, 57, called her mother an “everywoman” on Sunday, saying, “Perhaps this is why everyone felt they knew her.”
The country singer also announced her plans to continue the 11-date national tour she previously scheduled with Naomi.
“I’m going to have to honor her and do this tour. I’m just going to have to,” Wynonna said. “The show must go on.”
As for Ashley, 54, the actress previously revealed that she was the one who found Naomi after she died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
“I went upstairs to let her know that [her] friend was there, and I discovered her,” the Emmy nominee explained during the May 12 “Good Morning America” interview. “I have both grief and trauma from discovery.”
While she and her family members felt “uncomfortable” sharing Naomi’s cause of death, they hoped to shine a light on mental health struggles.
“It’s very important to be clear and to make the distinction between the loved one and the disease,” Ashley explained. “The barrier between the regard in which [her peers] held her couldn’t penetrate into her heart, and the lie that the disease told her was so convincing.”
She and Wynonna announced their mom’s passing with a joint statement last month.
“Today we sisters experienced a tragedy,” the half-siblings tweeted in April. “We lost our beautiful mother to mental illness. We are shattered. We are navigating profound grief and know that as we loved her, she was loved by her public. We are in unknown territory.”