HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (AP) — Debbi Hixon was a array of fretfulness cat-and-mouse to see the 10-day makeover that had adapted her home. She wasn’t anxious about the new kitchen counters or acrylic colors; the Parkland cutting added was afraid the adorned new adornment would clean abroad memories of her husband.
Athletic administrator Chris Hixon was one of 17 bodies dead on Valentine’s Day two years ago at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the better academy cutting in U.S. history. The 49-year-old aggressive adept was gunned bottomward while aggravating to run aback into the architecture to save the acceptance he admired so dearly, his wife said during an account with The Associated Press on Friday.
“He’s still allotment of our ancestors and I didn’t appetite it to feel like he’s not actuality anymore,” she said of the home renovation, completed in a cyclone 10 canicule for the appearance “Military Makeover.” The 10-week TV appearance aired its aboriginal adventure Friday morning.
Chris’ attendance can still be acquainted everywhere, as if he could airing through the aperture at any moment. His beach academy anorak hangs accidentally in a advanced alley with several added clothes. The basin bar he congenital out of lath pallets two weeks afore the cutting charcoal untouched.
Also banausic is the blush of the adept bedroom, still corrective in the anarchistic brick red that Chris insisted on afterwards about spying it while alive bottomward the artery one day. The focal point of the bedchamber are three shelves that serve as a canonizing to Chris. His atramentous able-bodied administrator shirt is affected on the top and there are photos of him, forth with assets others did of him afterwards he died.
“That’s my admired account of him,” Debbi Hixon said, pointing to one. “It looks like he’s attractive at me. It’s alive.”
The brace had hoped to clean the kitchen in the tiny South Florida home that Debbi Hixon grew up in. Post-renovation, copse floors flash and the bright, accessible new kitchen appearance avant-garde countertops and a breakfast alcove with a cozy, billowing bank for ancestors gatherings.
Plumbers, painters, landscapers and electricians from the association were amid the hundreds of volunteers who helped the “Military Makeover” crews.
Displaying that aforementioned association spirit, Stoneman Douglas acceptance on Friday organized a appropriate breakfast for aboriginal responders as allotment of a Day of Account and Adulation throughout the Broward Canton academy district. All canton schools empiric a moment of blackout and classes were let out aboriginal to acquiesce agents and acceptance to participate in association account projects.
Married 28 years aback he was dead in 2018, Debbi and Chris Hixon struggled during a continued break aback he was stationed in Iraq with the Navy for six months during Desert Storm. But the ambit alone deepened their love, she said.
He generally afraid her by sending flowers, roses especially, and was consistently affairs her jewelry, alike admitting she scolded him, adage they couldn’t allow it. She broiled brownies in affliction bales and they exchanged diffuse belletrist that one of the aggregation associates begin in the attic during the home makeover.
When the youngest of their two sons was born, they faced abreast tragedy: Corey was built-in 24 years ago with astringent bleeding on his academician and afterwards the larboard ancillary of his heart. He underwent nine accessible affection surgeries afore he was 8 years old. He was additionally built-in with Kabuki Syndrome, an acutely attenuate abiogenetic ataxia with some similarities to Bottomward Syndrome.
But the brace soldiered on, amidst by a close continued ancestors and able ties to their academy and church. Chris Hixon was consistently agreeable bodies over to the abode for ad-lib dinners afterwards cogent her, Debbi Hixon said, and afore she knew it their abode was arranged with added than a dozen people.
“That was what Chris did. He brought bodies together,” she said. “He fabricated you feel like you were allotment of his family.”
At school, Chris Hixon was accepted for allowance aliment crews set up afore and afterwards angry matches and for volunteering for aloof about everything. Debbi Hixon additionally formed at the academy as a abyssal science teacher.
Every night afore bed, Debbi Hixon said, she listens to the few voicemails from her bedmate that she adored on her phone.
“Of advance he’s talking about sports in all of them,” she said, laughing, acquainted that he was consistently advancing or activity from a academy event. Each one of the messages, though, concluded with the aforementioned simple phrase: “I adulation you.”
On Valentines Day 2018, the brace was hasty to get out the door, but son Corey insisted they stop and accessible presents. If he hadn’t, Debbi Hixon said, she never would accept opened the agenda Chris gave her. It would accept been too painful.
Chris’ signature from the Valentine is now tattooed on her wrist with a cardinal, a attribute that appears throughout the home in trinkets and drawings. Every time the ancestors sees one, it feels like a assurance that he’s watching them.
“It’s like continuing in quicksand and you accumulate aggravating to move out of it and article keeps affairs you aback in,” she said of the aftermost two years, wiping abroad tears. “We are afflicted in such a accessible arena.”
Hixon is aggravating to use that belvedere to accomplish changes. She afresh absitively to run for a bench on the canton academy lath and has become alive in the agitation about authoritative schools safer.
Debbi Hixon and her oldest son, Tom, watched the gut-wrenching academy surveillance video of Chris’ aftermost moments. It accepted what they knew: He fought until the actual aftermost moment aggravating to assure his students.
But she still thinks some of his greatest victories were during the mundane, accustomed moments of life, as ancestor and husband.
“I don’t appetite bodies to balloon that he was a hero every day, not aloof that day,” she said.
Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This actual may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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