CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A Charlotte mom is grieving the loss of a son-in-law she will never meet. He was one of 13 U.S. troops killed in a suicide bombing at Afghanistan's Kabul airport.
"I was worried," Jill Crayton told WCNC Charlotte while speaking about 20-year-old Marine Rylee McCollum. "I absolutely was worried about him. I mean, you worry about anybody who’s on deployment even if we’re in peaceful times."
Crayton described McCollum as a "good kid." Originally from Bondurant, Wyoming, McCollum married Crayton's daughter Gigi back in February. He and Gigi eloped and moved from Charlotte to San Diego before he deployed the same month. Gigi is expecting the couple's baby in three weeks.
Crayton was expecting to meet McCollum in October when his first tour ended.
"She just became complete," Crayton said about her daughter. "She just was complete when she met him. I don’t have to explain it; she was just so happy."
Crayton says she learned of McCollum's death from her daughter at 6 am EST, after Marines wearing formal dress blue uniforms showed up at her San Diego home at 3 a.m. PT.
“There’s military moms and dads and spouses across the world watching what happened yesterday and every single one of them sat there and said, ‘Oh thank God it wasn’t my son!'" Crayton said. "When you see somebody who’s really affected, it hits home. It’s not right.”
In a tragic twist of fate, Crayton is uniquely qualified to help her daughter through her grief -- 15 years ago Crayton's husband died unexpectedly when she was pregnant with Gigi's brother.
Gigi was only 5 years old.
“When I was going through that with their dad I remember thinking I hope none of my kids ever have to go through this because you know being pregnant it’s not just losing your spouse... but it’s being pregnant and losing your spouse," Crayton said. "It just throws a whole different spin on it. Something that you were so excited to share with somebody that person isn’t there anymore.”