Naomi Judd‘s husband is speaking out in public about his late wife for the first time.
Larry Strickland opened up about his time together with the country music legend on Sunday night, as part of the CMT TV special Naomi Judd: A River of Time. During the heartbroken husband’s speech, he remembered one of the singer’s funniest quirks in their happy days prior to her shocking death by suicide late last month.
Related: Ashley Judd Pens Heartbreaking, Lonely Mother’s Day Essay Weeks After Naomi’s Death
While on stage alongside Naomi’s daughters, Ashley and Wynonna Judd, Larry, who married Naomi back in 1989, remembered his wife of three decades as someone who loved to connect with others — ALL others:
“Naomi never met a stranger. Much to my displeasure, she would start a conversation with anyone who made eye contact with her, and we would end up standing 10, 20, 30 minutes on a sidewalk while she talked to a complete stranger about their passions and their dog.”
The audience, many of whom knew Naomi, couldn’t help but laugh despite the solemn occasion. Then, Larry started telling a tale about a recent moment Naomi had in the days prior to her passing.
As Larry explained it to the crowd gathered at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Naomi had recently flown solo to Nashville. It was very rare for her to fly alone, and Larry had been dreading the fact that his wife had to travel without him by her side to reach the Tennessee town for last month’s Country Music Hall of Fame ceremony, which ended up taking place one day after her tragic 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. Well, she made the flight home back to Nashville without any problem.”
Larry then revealed that he’d received an email from a man who sat next to Naomi on that flight.
Calling the email “a relief and comfort,” the grieving husband read the message from the stranger out to the audience in front of him. The man explained to Larry that he didn’t listen to country music, and didn’t know Naomi was famous, but the plane passenger nevertheless shared:
“‘The next 90 minutes we spent in each other’s company was not only entertaining, fascinating, and enlightening, but for me at least, thoroughly enjoyable. It’s a small comfort, I’m sure, but my life seems a lot richer after meeting your wife, however briefly.’”
Crying on stage at this point, Larry once against repeated that the unexpected email brought “great pleasure and comfort” to him during this trying time immediately after Naomi’s passing.
Strickland closed by adding the plane passenger’s final line, which was this (below):
“‘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.’”
Our hearts truly break for Larry, Ashley, Wynonna, and the rest of the famous family as they continue to process this awful and gut-wrenching situation.
We are at least somewhat heartened by Larry’s revelation here about one of Naomi’s final, sweet, touching moments. See some of the powerful words (below):
[Image via CMT/YouTube/MEGA/WENN.]