MORRILTON, Ark. (KTHV) - Losing a loved one is never easy. When it's a spouse and best friend for many years, and by pure accident, coping is all the more difficult.
Elementary art teacher Rebekah Avery remembers her late husband, Sam, as a strong-willed man; and her best friend.
Now, she wears some of his jewelry--including a bracelet he wore every day.
"And that's what he was wearing the day he was killed. And so now I wear it. And I wear his wedding ring. That he never ever ever took off in 17 years. And I won't take it off. I'll keep it on forever." says Rebekah.
Those momentos--along with pictures and memories--are all Rebekah has of her husband after he was hit while riding a bike last August.
"It's just senseless. I just wish people would be aware. Be aware to share the road." she says.
Rebekah says Sam had polio as a child, which made him even more determined to overcome challenges throughout his life.
"Everything was a struggle--but everything was a competition to him. If they told him he couldn't do something he HAD to prove that he could do it. That went for playing baseball, working out."
Sam loved coaching baseball and softball and did so for many years.
"And then about 6 or 7 years ago we got to where we liked to ride bikes. He loved riding his bikes. He loved going 20, 60, 80 miles at a time."
Rebekahsays she and her husband rode their favorite route on Highway 64 several times a week. But a group ride last Summer changed her life forever. Shewas having trouble with her bike so she stopped.
"I told him to go on and go. So he went ahead and took off and I looked up and saw him pedaling away...And that was the last time I saw him. Alive."
Just up the road, a distracted driver hit Sam, from behind.
Rebekah says the driver, "knocked him into the ditch. And then she just kept going. And they found her the next day...She wasn't paying attention. And she hit him. There was phone activity on her phone at the time. So she was apparently on the phone at the time."
It wouldn't be til 7 months later -- to the day -- that Rebekah would see the driver in the courtroom. Each day of those 7 months, she tried to keep busy. She spent time with her mother and brother, also worked on her art, and went back to the bike.
She says,"The first time I rode since he was killed I didn't feel like I was 'in myself.'I felt like I was watching myself ride the bike. It was lonely. It was very lonely."
This cyclist, teacher, artist, wife and friend wants everyone to remember Sam's story the next time they take to the road.
"You should take precautions and not use your phone. I just want people to know. I want them to be aware of the fact that it's so dangerous out there."
Rebekahtells us the woman who hit Sam was sentenced to 2 years and a $5,000fine in court March 20. That courtappearance was the first time Rebekahfaced the woman who is accused of taking her husband's life.