Finding memories of joy in the depths of sadness.
That’s what a Galesburg family is facing after losing two members in a house fire last week, Feb. 13.
They’re speaking with Local 4 News in an exclusive interview.
Kevin Sickles and his daughter Charlotte, along with one of their dogs were found in the burnt out remains.
Just hours earlier, the family was gathered at the house to help the little girl celebrate her third birthday.
A visitation was held Feb. 18 to remember the life of the 35-year-old.
His mother told Local 4 one comfort she’s learned from the coroner is her son and granddaughter didn’t suffer, but it’s still not easy to process the double loss.
Jackie Simpson said, “You shouldn’t have to bury your child or grandchild.”
It’s been a lot of tears this past week for Kevin Sickles’s mom and Charlotte’s grandmother Jackie Simpson and sister and aunt Victoria McDorman.
Simpson said, “I’m going to miss him so bad. I already do.”
The last moment they were all together is one they will cherish as a little girl celebrates turning three.
Simpson said, “We made her cake, and we went over there and got her presents and everything.”
Just a few hours later, their entire world turned upside down.
“Police beating on our windows with flashlights trying to wake us up,” said Simpson.
Now they’re looking back at the decades of memories, helping to bring some smiles in the midst of sadness.
Victoria McDorman said, “When we were all kids, we would all don our camouflage. Mom got us these little play helmets, and it was kind of adorable looking back on it. We would all play soldiers.”
Her mother added, “From a small age, that was all he ever wanted to do was be in the army. So he went in, and he was overseas.”
But back at home…
Simpson said, “He always liked to play jokes and be snarky.”
It’s the collection of John Deere toys, working on his truck and the daughter always by his side that will forever live on in memory.
Simpson said, “Got so much grease on her face but she’s going to hand on to that tire.”
McDorman added, “She would just go aunty and then just hug me and cover my face with kisses.”
While they’re missing that all the more, they’re thankful one life was able to make it out — Kevin’s dog Chance.
McDorman said, “It’s a part of your brother, a living part of your brother that you can cuddle.”
A small way to help heal a broken heart.
Simpson said, “My heart literally hurts. It just does.”
McDorman went on to say, “Definitely going to miss the both of them around.”
Simpson said, “Every minute of every day.”
Her daughter continued, “Especially her running up to Kevin. Hugging his legs. Wanting up right away.”
Simpson and McDorman told Local 4 News there is still one hard part to come, going back to the remains of the house to search for anything salvageable.
They also have a message to the community. They’re asking people to make sure they have working carbon monoxide detectors along with smoke alarms.
Simpson told Local 4 the coroner tells her a high level of the gas was found in Kevin’s body.
The family also said the community support has been overwhelming.
Simpson is also asking memorials to be made out to the Gary Sinise Foundation or Hope For Warriors in honor of Kevin.