ELKHART — More than four months later, John and Kimi Jackson know it doesn’t get easier.
“(Christmas) shopping was really hard, just going to the grocery store is really hard,” Kimi Jackson said. “Just your everyday things that you normally do are really hard.”
The Jacksons continue to deal with the loss of their 7-year-old daughter, Kristyana, who was shot and killed during an August home invasion.
The holidays proved especially hard for the family. “You’re so used to having her here and she’s not here,” John Jackson said. “You have to try to figure out how to do things different.”
Kimi Jackson said neighbors have referred to the family as “the Griswolds,” the holiday-feverish family from the movie “Christmas Vacation,” because of their Christmas decorating.
But no lights went up at the Jackson house this year. Only a small tree on a corner table with a stocking for their 11-month-old son, John Jr.
“To pull out her ornaments that she made for us over the years, I just couldn’t do it,” Kimi said.
Both John and Kimi Jackson noted that their loss still doesn’t feel quite real. John said he feels sometimes as if his daughter is at a friend’s house for a sleepover and he’ll just have to go pick her up.
The community support the family has received has been a big boost for the family.
A tree has been planted in Kristyana’s name at Mary Daly Elementary, where she had been a student, and the school will also be placing a plaque in the library, a nod to Kristyana’s love of reading.
The school’s book fair is coming up as well, and some books will be bought in Kristyana’s name for the school, while others will be taken to a local hospital for sick children.
Fundraisers have proved to be very helpful financially, Kimi said. “And also just their time, just donating time in general. It’s been unbelievable,” John added.
Coping with the loss is still very difficult, however.
The Jacksons have been going to counseling once a week and have also formed a bond with another family in the community that lost a child of their own.
What the Jacksons want to know, need to know, is the “who” or “why.” “It’s just the not knowing part,” John explained. “That would help a lot.”
The couple said they still speak with investigators several times a week, receiving updates on the investigation. They say credible tips are still coming in for investigators to check into.
Life continues to be unpredictable, though, and days can turn from bad to good, or vice versa, at any moment, John observed.
The Jacksons said that John Jr. has been a vital part of the grieving and recovery process. “He helps keep us focused, keep our sanity, because we have to be there for him.”
The couple still hopes some closure can come from the events that occurred that Friday night in August.
“We just loved our baby girl, and we still love her and we’ll always love her,” John said.
“I just wish if someone knew anything, that they would say something because I don’t want this to happen to anyone else. This feeling we’re feeling, I wouldn’t wish on anyone.”