Two weeks after losing her husband and two babies in a raging fire, a grieving widow and mother has broken her silence, declaring forgiveness for her husband who she said kept their children from her.
Twenty-one-year-old Jovona Johnson-Barrow around 5:30 Wednesday afternoon took to social media amid a firestorm of rumours and speculation to provide clarity about the circumstances surrounding a battle for custody of the children and the status of her marriage to Corileus “Cori” Barrow.
She also gave new insight into a brewing disagreement with her husband’s family about his funeral arrangements and admitted even amid the controversy, she has “nothing but love” for her husband.
“My ability to grieve has been stripped from me, the same way my children were – abruptly and without reason,” Johnson-Barrow said in a lengthy Facebook post.
“I just wanted a quiet life. I just wanted a family. I didn’t want to be broadcasted or in the newspaper. I fought for my children, but I couldn’t have them, even after a fair, just, interim court order was made. And I am trying to believe God has a plan for my life. I am trying to trust in Him. I am trying to be a good person,” said the grieving mother later in the post.
She explained the series of events leading up to the death of her husband and two children Riordan and Reya-Anna Barrow, ages 22-month-old and eight months. According to her, on July 22nd, three days before the fatal fire, she appeared in court seeking access to their children after her husband defied a court order allowing her to see them from Thursday to Sunday evenings.
“My birthday was the subsequent day, July 23rd, I turned 21. I went to work happy because I knew I would be seeing my babies. I would get to hold them and go to church with them. And wash their hair again. I would get to hug them whenever I want, kiss them and fix their clothes as I usually did. Plait their hair. Watch tv with them. I would get to be with my children again, after enduring nearly two months of Cori withholding them from me,” she explained.
The court results appeared to be the catalyst of her husband’s widely circulated post expressing disgust with the local court system. Hours later, there was a loud explosion, followed by a fire at the home of the 42-year-old Coleridge and Parry English teacher. He perished in the blaze with the children at Apt B #93 Regency Drive in Warrens Park South.
“On July 24th, 2019, I was about to give a tour when the police called me and told me to come to the apartment, #93B. My husband kicked me out of the house on May 10th, something he always did when I wasn’t ‘conforming’. I would beg to come back because I missed my children and wanted a family.
“We all know what happened on the 24th July 2019. I lost my family,” she said.
Johnson-Barrow went on to explain a bizarre situation following the tragic event in which two separate funeral dates were announced; one from her and another from an unknown person.
She explained that directly after the tragedy, she informed her mother-in-law she would surrender her husband’s body, but subsequently changed her mind.
“I love my husband, so I kept his body. After everything he did during our marriage… I have nothing but love in my heart for him. I forgive him. So, I reached out to his mother, apologized for not being able to let him go and asked if we could work on the funeral arrangements together,” said Johnson-Barrow.
But according to the widow, this request was to no avail and on August 4, to her amazement, an obituary appeared in a local newspaper for her husband and children.
“I looked and didn’t even see my name mentioned – as mother or wife. I don’t know who put that obituary in the newspaper…I have not been invited, I have received no calls, my name isn’t even there…Am I not a mother? Am I not a wife?” she asked.
That obituary said the funeral would be held tomorrow on August 8 but today’s announcement initiated by his wife said the funeral would be on August 23 at the Sanctuary Empowerment Centre.
Barbados TODAY previously reached out to Johnson-Barrow who refused to comment on the situation. Efforts to locate the family of her deceased husband Corileus Barrow after his untimely death have been unsuccessful.