I am Hunter’s aunt.

I am married to Angie’s oldest brother. I have a daughter of my own, my only child.

I have known Angie since she was a kid. I was friends with my husband in high school and Angie was his adorable kid sister who drew me pictures. I was thrilled to call her my little sister when we got married 12 years ago.

Angie and her 2 brothers and her mom and dad have always been very close. We typically see them on a weekly basis, and my daughter loves spending time with her aunt. She has a very special relationship with her.

We were thrilled when Hunter was born. Such a precious baby who I looked forward to cuddling every week. We all argued over who got to feed him or hold him or put him to sleep. The last time I saw him, I fed him his bottle. Hunter patted my face with his hand and I made faces at him. He opened his mouth to laugh and giggle. I loved his smile and his innocent joy. I held him later that night to put him to sleep, swaddling and rocking him in my arms. His little face was pure perfection.

Hunter

And now the unthinkable has happened. Hunter’s life has been cut so short by a terrifying house fire, and a homicide investigation is underway. Angie is in the hospital, where all of her family and many of her extended family stay to watch over her and pray for her.

Life can take a turn so quickly.

We have received so many messages from friends and family offering their love and support and condolences. We have even received messages through social media from strangers or friends of friends. We are so overwhelmed by the outpouring of support. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

But tragedies also make good news stories. I get that. People want to know more. People want to know what happened. People want to get the inside scoop.

And there are people who will make judgements from what they see, or read, or hear. Please consider that every person deals with tragedy, with loss, with heartbreak, in a different way. None of us are calm, well-spoken, rational people in a situation like this. Please don’t spend your time speculating about what happened, and let the police do their job. Instead, I encourage you to spend your time cherishing your own family and holding them close, because life is so precious.

To the media: I know this is a news story – but we are also real people. Please respect our need to deal with this on our own. If this happened to you, giving interviews probably wouldn’t be your first priority. It isn’t ours. Grieving, healing, rebuilding our lives – those are our priorities right now.

I want to set the record straight. I can’t speak for everyone. But I can speak for Angie’s immediate family because we are in this together. We are grieving together. We are surviving together. We are barely holding it together because we are overcome by the loss of our precious Hunter. We are scared and trying to be strong for Angie to help her get well.

 

A friend of mine has set up a funding page for Angie in anticipation of the upcoming costs for Hunter’s funeral and the basic things she will need once she gets out of the hospital. I want to be clear that Angie’s brothers and I all agreed to do this for her, and that the funds will go to her directly.

If you want to contribute, Hugs for Hunter is here.

A friend of one of the tenants in the house has also set up a funding page for the other residents affected by the fire.

If you want to contribute, Windermere Fire Relief and Aid is here.

We are so thankful for everyone who has been sending us messages of encouragement and support. We have been touched by so many who have reached out to us. If we don’t respond to you, please know that it is appreciated.