"She lit up a room." That's how family members described Akeema James Monday.
The 25-year-old mom of two died in a car crash Friday in Waldorf. Her 4-year-old daughter Aryanna and 6-year-old son Ryan were in the car and survived. Ryan said he had a dream Sunday night that his mom had a message for him—“I love you and I really miss you."
"Even though Aryanna doesn't fully understand what all of it means, she knows that her mom passed away. But Ryan has written two letters to her already," Akeema’s aunt, Leena Drew, explained.
"She was a very bright light, and this is very tough to deal with," added her uncle, Tre Drew.
Akeema's mom, Angela James, said she heard from several people on Facebook who knew Akeema.
"Everyone thought that she was their best friend. And it's so funny because individually you keep on seeing 'she was my best friend,' 'she was my best friend,' 'she was my best friend,' and that's how she was. She made everyone feel special," James said.
"She was excellent with her children, excellent. Everything was about her children," Akeema's grandmother, Charlotte Drew-Thornton, shared.
Grandfather Leslie D. Thornton remembered she came to a senior's dance with the family.
"We danced out on the dance floor, I could not believe it. I didn't have an idea in the back of my mind that that would be the last time that I would really see her," Thornton said.
Her sister, Akeera, said she’ll never forget Akeema's laugh and she will miss "talking to her and hugging her."
Akeema was a cheerleader in high school, played basketball, softball, and loved to dance, her mom said. She said Akeema had some difficult times, but she was working hard and going to school.
"She was determined to be that independent mother, to take care of her kids. She was determined to go to school. She went back to school and she worked full time and everything was for her kids," James said.
Akeema's family said she recently met a new love and was happy.
"I know without a shadow of a doubt that when she closed her eyes, she was a happy person," her mom added.
The family is still trying to decide who will raise Ryan and Aryanna. A GoFundMe account has been set up to pay for funeral costs. Anything extra will go in a fund for the two young children.