daddy jessep

If you haven’t followed our story closely or don’t know us personally and how we came to be together… it’s out of a whole lot of loss that we now love.

We don’t typically get on the megaphone about HOW our circumstances brought us together and the insurmountable pain we have all endured the last 2 years, we want to focus on the good. The now. The love. The JOY. Because there is so much of it now. And for so long, and for so many moments, we felt hopeless.

Just one year ago, February 2017, I was 10 months a widow with a 4 and 3 year old.
And felt like I had crawled to get to that point. Crawled. One. Slow. Sloth. Movement. After. The. Other. There had been so many changes in my life up to that point and I still felt so empty, extremely physically and mentally exhausted, like I was constantly treading violent water.

I had had a moment with my girls at Chick Fil A, exactly one year ago, one of the personnel had given me a flyer and invited me to join them later in the month for a Daddy/Daughter Date Night.
I just about unraveled.
I felt that hot heat of pain swell in the pit of my stomach and I wanted to throw up and yell at her.
I knew. I knew she had no idea I was there alone and would go home alone and bathe these little ladies alone and put them to bed alone and fix their lunches alone and open up a bottle of wine alone and watch Netflix alone and after I caught my buzz alone, pull the sheets over my head alone and wish I was in a different life alone.
She had no idea.
No clue that I was doing all of this without my person, their father, my husband, the one who said and promised and lived like he’d never leave us.

But there I was. Swelling with unmerciful anger toward her. Then at Shayne. Then at myself. Then at Chick Fil A. And that’s the thing about anger… it spreads quickly.
It latches onto anyone and everyone it can get its grip on. The blame game travels fast.

I hurried out of there as swiftly as I could yank the girls out of the play area and went home, not before I made a pretty uncharacteristically angry rant of a Facebook post.
I remember it knocking the wind right out of me and I just wanted someone to catch me, even if that meant my entire friends’ list reading about it.

I just kept thinking…
Shayne will never have the privilege of dating his daughters. His sweet heart won’t be here to show them how he treated me and an exceptional example of how they need to be treated.
Shayne will never do these things, these things that he lit up and gushed about and would gladly skip work for and we’d sit and talk about while eating dinner or watching TV. Our most genuinely happy conversations were spent talking and laughing about all the things we would get to do with the girls as they grew up. We joked about how they would be and he would always(!) get teary-eyed in these convos about his girls and I’d give him a reassuring hug. Like, yes, I know, it’s so much to hold onto on the inside. The joy, the heartbreak of time moving on, the pride. All of it. I know.
I won’t get to witness him experiencing any of it. Manifesting any of that joy he spoke.  These moments he lived for, talked about doing, and looked forward to.

The flyer triggered it.
My mind raced back to 6 days before he died. April 10, 2016.
We scraped together a surprise birthday party for our oldest, Audrey.
And it was his idea to take her on a date with him to Panera Bread so we could get our family over and set up the house for the big party reveal.
I will never forget the look on her face as she came back in from her Daddy Shayne date. And he was so calm, so full of pride and joy. They filled up on each other, and had that special time between them. And, thankfully, always will.

But I thought about that. Just that. And cried myself into a stupor that night. Being handed that flyer reminded me of everything in the future I was losing and not going to experience.
Witnessing the golden bond and relationship unfold of my husband, their Daddy, and his first baby girl. Something I had wished and hoped for since we found out we were having a girl, because she was exactly what he had hoped for.

It was that tiny moment, being handed a dumb flyer, that very small moment, that sucked the joy right out of me. Reminded me of every single moment now lost for him and for them.

I could never have been coaxed out of that anger to fathom what one year later would or could look like.

One year from that moment… Audrey was her sweet Daddy Jessep’s date to that very same Chick Fil A Daddy/Daughter date night. And the following night, the youngest had him for her date at her preschool’s Daddy/Daughter dance.

I couldn’t believe that it was exactly one year later.
I look back and realize how far I have come, we have come, and really, can’t even believe it.
Shayne, not one to ever disappoint, even after death…  would still find a way to manifest all of that joy for me for the girls, in helping me keep my heart open long enough to find Jessep. A GOOD, courageous man.

Jessep is here.
And I am honored, so thankful, he now has the privilege to date our daughters.
And show them, how he loves and give that back to them, knowing they will take that with them the rest of their lives as to how they need to be treated in their relationships with males. I’ll teach them what I know…….. but their Daddy is the one who holds that key.

He has two sets of little girl eyes that are now watching how to be treated.
I hope, but also know, he doesn’t take that lightly.
More importantly, through everything… all of it….. he has chosen to be here for them, for all of us.
He has chosen this, chosen us, every day.
My gratitude can’t be contained.


That’s heavy.
I can’t imagine what it must feel like to be a father of a son who lost his Mommy, who now has the responsibility to show up for two little girls and be the man in their lives.
Can you feel how heavy that is? Could you imagine the weights?
I wouldn’t begin to understand how his heart feels.
And I sit in awe of his patience and sense of urgency.

Its just something you would never be able to grasp until you have been given those shoes to slip on. Its so hard to explain the paradox of emotions, much less feel them sometimes.

I struggle with trying to parent the way I did before, and what is required of me now.

There’s just no going back to the way things were. Pivot, right. And while healing my own heart, I need to be mindful to give it all away, as much as I can, to each of them.
But I know, it all begins and ends with leading with love.
Unconditional, on time, thoughtful, intentional, kind love.

And my hope for Jessep is, I hope he really knows his heart was made for this. Made for these ladies. He needs them just as much as they need him. And I need his son’s love and grace just as much as he needs mine. To learn to love them and be loved by them, our greatest gift of all.

He hears about and reads so much of who Shayne is and was and I don’t think takes the time regularly to feel this for himself: JMag is exactly where he needs and is supposed to be for them, and all of us.
And every bit of Shayne would love him, and love him for it.

Looking at his face and seeing his joy, I know, Jessep was meant to do this and be here and wrap them up in his love.
And I thought Shayne’s heart grew 10 times the day Audrey was born, I watched Jessep’s grow the last few nights with the girls, too. It was miraculous.

Watching a man show up for his little girls.
Opening up a part of his heart he might not have ever been sure he had, or needed to discover. What that must have done to him…

For a 5-year-old little girl who’s Daddy was her very best friend, who felt the totality and attention of his love just 6 days before he died. For an even younger baby girl who’s first experience with a Daddy/Daughter date was with a man who isn’t her biological father but has willingly stepped in to call her his own. This was everything.
This was so big.
Does not make this an inch easier, but I know Shayne is watching these new relationships bloom and is rooting us all on, at total peace, knowing these hearts are, and will be, taken care of.

This is all a lot.
But we’re not stopping and haven’t stopped because it’s been too hard and gets hard watching over all of these needy, naive, confused, innocent hearts.
It’s not easy trying to soothe the pain and hurt but I revel at their persistence and bravery all.the.time.
I constantly think to myself, “They are so much braver than I will ever be.”

They just want to love us, we’re the ones who get stuck in our heads – at least I do – and think we can’t or won’t be able to love them as well or much as their parent who is now gone.
We get scared and stop ourselves because…. there really is nothing you can do to ease that ache of them missing their Daddy and Mommy. And no one will ever truly fill that sacred space in their hearts. That space is respectfully reserved.

But… we pour, pour, pour, and pour, anyway. Hoping someday, somehow, it will be enough. As parents, we keep pouring. Its just our job, our duty, to keep the well full. (And mindfully filling ours simultaneously).
And know, be confident, that none of them are void of any of our love and attention.

It may look to anyone tuning in periodically that the pendulum swings too far to the side of the girls or to his son at times, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. They have all received exactly what we have been capable of giving.
I take care of my babies the way I know how and have to give, that may not always be broadcasted. Placing priority in taking care of their bodies and minds. Wanting them to be healthy and kind humans.

We feel guilty at times about keeping all the attention level but there’s just never going to be perfection. I grew up in a family of 3 siblings and know this very well.
Anyone going through loss, much less children grieving the loss of someone important to their lives, requires a whole lot of love. It’s really all that is required.

We will never be enough if we keep thinking what we’re giving isn’t.

There’s no such thing as coming up short when you’re loving unconditionally. You will always get much more than you give. We’re continuing to love and ascend toward the light anyway. At the end of the day, it’s really all you can do.
Keep loving.

– caroline


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