Father who lost wife, two infants in 2013 fire in Nineveh opens up about the coping process

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By Eric Levy

NINEVEH, Ind. (Nov. 23, 2014) -- It has been one year since a fire in the small town of Nineveh killed a mother and her two infants.

Fire investigators determined a candle started the fire that killed 18-month-old Hailey Lynn Slusher-Abbott and her six-month-old brother John Ryan. The children's mother, Sirena, died a few days later.

The last year for Christopher Abbott has been a very difficult one. What was left of the home that burned down Nov. 22, 2013, are gone, but the memories of Abbott's family are still living on in his mind.

"The most vivid would be the phone call that she gave me that morning, because she very rarely called me that early in the morning. She was still in bed when I left," Abbott said.

Abbott's wife and two young children were what made his life complete. Coping with the extraordinary pain of losing them has been daunting.

"I won't lie, it's been a long, hard battle. I've had good days, I've had bad days," he said.

Abbott still has someone dear to his heart, his 6-year-old daughter Aley.

"I gotta stay strong for her, there's no other way around it," Abbott said.

Aley survived the fire, and Abbott says she remembers some of that horrible day.

"I've talked to her about it, and she's been out to the cemetery with me a couple times. But I don't want to push it on her, even her counselor says she'll ask questions in her time, and she asks them here and there," Abbott said.

Abbott has had much support from the community, his parents and family at The Crossing Church just south of Nineveh.

"The one way we can help is to always be there, always be available. If you're not available, you can't help," said Paul Taylor, the church's pastor.

Since the fire, Abbott has gotten even more involved in the church working closely with Taylor. It's all part of coping with such an incredible tragedy.

"I've come to grips with it, I'm at peace with it. I know they're safe, they're with God," Abbott said.