Years and years ago I saw that a family who had five children would collect the number five. They’d have framed pictures and cut outs of the number Five. Pictures of Five things. It was kind of brilliant, long before Pinterest was credited for every craft ever made. 

Until I lost a child. 

Because when you ask me, I will tell you I have four children. Because I do. I have four children…living. But I have given birth to five. I have carried five. I have loved five. But you only get to see four…


Four years. 

Since that moment. Since that instant. Since lives were shifted and cracked open, and raw, by the loss of a Husband. A Father. A Son. A Brother. A Cousin. A Coworker. A Friend. 

Four years of living, with a huge gap in a department. New people there…who never knew what that smile meant. New families hired, who have no concept of what it was like. New people in charge, and some forgetting how important it is to “take care” of each other.

Four years of living, with news in papers, and interview requests. Four years of vulturous writers looking for the next best story, a way to twist a tragedy. Four years of good press. Four years building a scholarship and a ride, and so many other ways to honor a name that will be remembered. 

As good. As kind. As a Hero. 

Who was married to my Kindred Kristie…

Four years of living, and redefining life as a widow. Four million ways people have said the worst cruelest things, sometimes unintentionally. Four years she has had to relive the worst hell over and over, by words and insensitivity. Four years of having to wake up every morning…without him right there.

Four years of learning to love, and trust. Of losing friends, who couldn’t stay through the darkness and those who only wanted the misery. Four years of choosing to not be bitter, to lose it when it counts, and finding people who will always stand in the fire with you, and rejoice when you find your laughter.

Four years of relearning on how to just live,  breathe. To work out so hard that for an hour you kill the grief and sweat it out in angry spurts only to have it wash over you again as you shower. Four years of holidays, and special days, and Monday’s. Father’s Day, and Daddy -Daughter Dances…all keep the grief on the surface. And Fridays. Friday, where it all began. 

Four years of raising a girl, with his face and a beautiful teenager, and having to reinvent family. To make new memories in a house already filled with them. Four years of relearning about life and love, and grief and being renewed all while still being totally broken. 

Four years of being a kid, with a famous last name. But who just wants her Dad. And another kid who knows what it’s like to lose your other Dad, and knows that grief, that loss too too soon. Four years of growing and hearing things like “you look like your Dad,” and “Your Daddy would be so proud…” But all you want is him. 

Four years of wanting to shout…

“And No, it will never go away.”

“I will never get over it.”

“I’m sorry, that my real isn’t relevant to you!” 

“I’m sorry that you feel uncomfortable by my grief.” 

Four years.

Four years. 

If someone asked me four words to describe my friend Kristie I would say this…

Faithful. Resilient. Strong. Real. 

Kristie has kept her faith in God, in humanity- and in the good of people four years after her husband was killed in the line of duty. 

Kristie is resilient because she has kept Chris right there…in conversation, in good acts, in work he believed in. She has shown people that life will never be the same, but you can keep living. You can find joy in the smallest things. You can still love deeply. 

Kristie is strong- because she shows up. She loves passionately. She is a damn good mother. She is a damn good friend. And she knows that bitterness will only rot your soul, so she feeds her soul. And shares that strength and hope…and grief with strength. 

Kristie is Real. Which is the Highest compliment I can pay anyone. She has been real…the last four years. 

I can never do enough, or pay enough of a tribute to Chris, except to say every good thing you’ve heard…is true. He scattered goodness. 

I can never give justice or put into words the grief that all of us have felt, and will continue to feel every April 22…But I will try, every year. 

Because that’s what you do for Family. And Chris was family. That Badge bonds us all together. 

And I thank God every single damn day for my Kristie. When I see her, I hug her fiercely. And I fight for her because I have seen her joyful and completely broken in a heartbeat by the words and actions of others. I also have seen her laugh so hard that we have cried. There are six of us that are so bonded no one can get our jokes, or our relevancy, but we carry each other. Today we wear plaid together…for our girl. 

Chris,I know you are so proud of your girls. They are the truest most beautiful girls…they’ve taught us so much- these four years. They’ve carried you with them every day for…

Four years.


I have five children. Everyone thinks my third child was a boy, but she was a girl.

I never saw her laugh.

But I gave birth to her. And I held her. 

She had dark hair. And long eyelashes.Like her younger brother. 

I love her and she is always with me. She would be 10. 

But she’s right here. With me. She’s a part of us. I carry her with me everyday. 

But you only see Four.