Genre:

The Anatomy of Public Corruption

Obit: LLHS Wife of Coach Dead

and teacher, loses wife to cancer, leaving behind four adopted children

Note: 

by Kate Didion

Co-Sports Editor

The whole family had only been together for a month.

las_lomasJeff Loving and his wife Brenda had returned from Ethiopia with their two adopted children, Lailie, now 4, and Landon, now 3, to add to their family that already included Luke and Linnea, 5, whom had also been adopted from Ethiopia.

Four weeks after their return, Brenda was diagnosed with terminal cancer. For the next year, Brenda was in and out of the hospital, undergoing chemotherapy treatments.

Now, Loving can’t even be in a room with a picture of his wife, who died Nov. 9.

“It’s too hard to see her,” said Loving. “You see pictures of those happier times. It’s hard to see. You miss the person, and you miss what your life was. Getting used to that is hard.”

These days, Loving said his bedroom is “like a Motel 6.”

“All the pictures are gone,” he said. “Her stuff is gone. The bathroom is empty. I was just used to seeing her stuff there.”

Beyond struggling with his own grief, Loving has had to help his children learn to manage their own.

“I check in with them a lot,” he said. “They’re like, ‘I miss Mommy. I want to talk to her.’ They see my emotion too, which is good, and we talk about it.”

Loving keeps telling them stories about their mother in order to keep her in their lives. But still, death is a hard concept for his young kids to understand.

“Landon still runs into the room and looks for her and asks where she is,” he said. “That’s hard, explaining it to them, and they ask a lot of questions.”

The Lovings began the adoption process after infertility kept them from conceiving naturally. The paperwork is lengthy and legal process is long and arduous, but it was worth it for the Lovings, who might have had even more kids if Brenda had not gotten sick.

“We wanted to have a bigger family,” he said.

When the Lovings decided to adopt two more children from Ethiopia after getting Luke and Linnea, they ran into problems.

“We had run out of money and we didn’t know how we were going to get them,” he said. “Ethiopia was clamping down on everything and the adoptions were coming to a halt, yet magically there was a handful of people that got to go, and we got to go. It’s not accident, because if we had gotten back four weeks later, as heartbreaking as it would have been, we could not have gone and gotten those kids. God wanted those two kids here, no question.”

The family attends North Creek Church, whose members have provided support for the Lovings over the last year.

“I’ve gone there pretty much my whole life,” he said. “They’ve been amazing. You name it, they’ve done it. My car was broken down, and the head pastor came and gave me his car and took my car and got it fixed. It’s crazy, the amount of love and support.”

The love and support has been coming in from many places—the WCI and Las Lomas communities, neighbors and even strangers.

Loving said a man recently came to his door in tears. He told Loving that he had seen his story on the news and wanted to help.

“He pulls out three one-hundred-dollar bills, then gets in his car and drives away,” he said. “I’ve never seen him before in my life. It’s very humbling to have all these people that want to help you.”

Proceeds from the Las Lomas Basketball Alumni Game on Nov. 27 were donated to the Loving family. Loving, who coached the Las Lomas boys teamfor 12 years, was there with his kids.

One of Loving’s former students, Aly Walsh, started a GoFundMe page to raise money for the family. In the month since its creation, the campaign has raised over $70,000 from over 8000 people.

People have also been leaving comments on the page, offering words of encouragement and love. Loving says that these short notes and the cards he gets are the most encouraging things.

“I love going to the mailbox and getting cards,” he said. “What’s nice is to see that people want to help you—and reading the little notes. That is the best part for me.”

Another website was created after Brenda’s diagnosis that allowed people to sign up to bring meals, buy groceries, and help out the Loving family. For over a year, every slot has been filled, and the Lovings have received five meals a week, as well as all of their groceries bought.

The seemingly endless generosity of the community has touched Loving.

“I want to be grateful and thankful for these people that have done a lot for me, not to take it for granted and appreciate it for what it is,” he said.

Loving’s involvement with the church and his faith have also helped him deal with his grief.

“God is sovereign over all of this. He’s in control of all of this,” he said. “I trust his plan for her. His plan to take her then is perfect, and I believe that. As much grief as I have over losing her, I honestly believe she’s in heaven, in paradise, right now, without pain and without suffering. So why did he do this? I don’t know, and I may never know. It may be played out in the days ahead, but I have complete trust and faith in that.”

Even so, Loving still struggles to find peace.

“The process of grief is one of those things you’ve just got to go through,” he said. “It’s not like you can hide from it. I try to stay busy, but if it’s there, it’s there, and you’ve just got to deal with it. It’s hard that you’re in a house that you’ve built together, painted the walls together, and it’s like every drawer you open, there’s something there that reminds me of her every time.”

Loving said that the most important thing people should know is that the family is okay.

“The best thing people can do is pray for us,” he said. “Pray for peace and comfort. One of my biggest prayer requests is that the kids are resilient through this and that it doesn’t just break them in life. That would be hard. I want them to be able to survive this, and have good, happy lives.”

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