LINDENHURST, Suffolk County -- Diane Aluska lived for her daughter, Jenna, and she also died for her.
It happened last year on Mother's Day, and as the painful one-year anniversary of her mom's death approaches, Jenna spoke out exclusively to Eyewitness News about her coping mechanisms and how she has been doing.
"You just need to grow from it," Jenna said. "You need to get yourself together, in a sense."
Jenna is now a 17-year-old high school junior, and she said coming to terms with the tragic loss hasn't been easy. She has filled two journals with letters to her mother, which have helped her cope.
She said her mom was her best friend and that they always spent time together sharing secrets and telling each other everything.
Diane pushed her daughter out of harm's way as a car seemed to come from nowhere on Wellwood Avenue in Lindenhurst back in May of 2017.
Jenna suffered back injuries, but her mother became pinned underneath the car and died. Jenna remembered little about that terrible day, except that they had just come out of church.
She said they were holding hands, talking about a boy Jenna liked and an upcoming dance solo. Then, Jenna said, she blacked out.
"It was scary," she said. "I woke up and there was glass in front of me. I didn't realize what was going on."
The 80-year-old driver didn't realize that her car was in reverse, so when she hit the gas, the vehicle went flying onto the sidewalk. Jenna was hurt, but thanks to her mother, she survived.
"I broke two parts of my spine," she said.
When Jenna woke up from surgery, her dad, Ken, had to tell her they lost her mother.
And so it has been a year of struggle, but Jenna and her father are extremely grateful to those who've helped them. Jenna is just trying to hold onto to all the happier memories.
"My favorite thing she cooked was spaghetti and meatballs, and she was awesome at it," Jenna said with a smile. "She could cook, like, anything."
She also has an important message this Mother's Day, to so many others who've lost their moms.
"You're not alone," she said. "You're not the only person who is going through this."
She'll spend this Mother's Day at the cemetery with her father. Jenna shows her mom's courage, clearly a gift she will have forever.
Exclusive: Lindenhurst teen speaks about losing mom who died to save her on Mother's Day
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