‘I watched him bury his head in his hands and sob. ‘I’m not going anywhere, I need you. The kids need us.’ He grabbed my face. ‘We are going to make it.’: After losing daughter to flu woman says ‘I only thought I loved him before’

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This is a follow up story to Shannon’s on going grief journey. Read the full backstory here.

“About 7 years ago, I was in a place in my life I wasn’t proud of. I wasn’t happy and I was just getting by. Yes, I always took care of my kids and my kids always came first. I was living in a small house that I rented, I had two. beautiful girls and one baby daddy. Kinsley didn’t have a daddy, I like to call him a sperm donor.

Let me backtrack a bit. Kinsley was the definition of ‘oops.’ However, I was 28 years old with a 2-year-old, and there was no way I wasn’t having her. I had a job and I took care of myself and my kid. She was just going to be a bonus. I don’t believe in abortion and adoption was out as well. I remember the conversation with ‘sperm donor.’  He said, ‘You need to take care of it.’ I knew at that point, I would be on my own with Kinsley.

Kinsley was something special from the start and I could feel it. I know it was God’s plan for me to have her, now more than ever. Kinsley would walk around telling people at age one she didn’t have a daddy, but she had a Naina. We all thank God for Shaina. It was about this time I met my husband and she said to him, ‘Well, everyone else calls you daddy, do you mind if I call you daddy too?’ My heart skipped a beat and I thought I loved him then.

Courtesy of Shannon S.

He and I started this perfectly blended family. Well, it wasn’t perfect but it was damn near close. The way Kinsley would look at her daddy was something that used to make my heart melt. She idolized him. She challenged him in a way he had no idea what to do with her. He would get so mad at her and then she would come down, climb on his lap, say something to make him shake his head and laugh, then kiss his hairy face. Just being the Kinsley everyone fell in love with. Kinsley truly thought she was going to marry her daddy. The way he loved her was so fierce, I thought I loved him then.

Courtesy of Shannon S.

In 2016, we got married. The girls became true sisters and I became a bonus mom of two amazing little girls. It was like one day, I woke up and everything felt just as it should be. My husband came to me and said he wanted to adopt Kinsley. She was his daughter and even if he and I didn’t make it as a couple, she was his too. In April of 2017, Kinsley officially became his. It was just a document to prove something we already knew. Their relationship was something special. I always say it takes a special person to love kids that aren’t theirs and watching him with Kinsley, I thought I loved him then.

Courtesy of Shannon S.

In October of 2017, our baby boy was born, and our almost perfect family became officially perfect. The girls fought like siblings and he was the perfect addition to our beautiful mess. Having a baby this time, I was married and had a child with someone I loved. The experience was incredible and something I truly wanted to experience with him. He was there for every bit of my pregnancy, every important doctors’ appointment and my crazy emotional meltdowns. He picked up slack with the kids and went to work to take care of our family. He was everything I never knew I needed but I did — I needed him. The experience of having Ford with him made me love him even more, and if we didn’t already have five children, I would have wanted to experience it all over again. He is a great father and watching him with our kids, I really didn’t think I could love him any more than I did at this point in our lives.

Courtesy of Shannon S.

I woke up a while back, maybe 2 months ago, next to him, in our forever home, with all our babies in their beds asleep. I couldn’t help but thank God for everything. We were truly blessed in this life but with that, my mind started thinking, ‘It’s too good, what’s gonna happen?’ I don’t know if anyone else thinks like that, but I do. Fast forward, there we were, sitting in the hospital together watching our daughter die. I watched him bury his head in his hands, drop to his knees, and sob over losing Kinsley. I have heard that tragic events like this can break up a marriage. I was terrified that not only was I going to have to continue living this life without my daughter but I’m gonna lose my best friend and the only person who could comfort me.

Courtesy of Shannon S.

While we were crying, holding on to each other so tight, he whispered in my ear, ‘I’m not going anywhere, I need you, we need each other and the kids need us.’ He grabbed my face, kissed my forehead, and looked me right in the eyes, ‘We are going to make it.’

Courtesy Shannon Sandvik

I have never felt so close to him in my entire life. Not the day we got married, not the day he adopted Kinsley, not the day we had Ford, but this day, this very second and every day since. I feel a closeness to him I can’t even begin to describe but all I can say is, I only thought I loved him before.”

Courtesy of Shannon S.

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Shannon Sandvik. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

Read more stories from Shannon here:

‘Her eyes looked up at me in panic. ‘Mommy, it’s blood.’ We were just in the ER and everything said she was fine. My stomach about hit the floor.’: Family says goodbye to their ‘forever Valentine’ after battle with flu

‘We were at dinner when I said, ‘Hell, give me another drink. I may take up smoking too.’ Kinsley was as healthy as a horse and in a week span, she was dead.’: Mom loses daughter unexpectedly to flu

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