WATERLOO, Ill. - The widow of an Illinois state trooper shares her story and struggles in the weeks following her husband's death. Less than two months after Trooper Nick Hopkins was killed in the line of duty, Whitney Hopkins tells Fox 2 she is still figuring it out.
"I had my routine, he had his, and together, we made a team, and he was my person," said Whitney.
The couple was together for 15 years and got married in 2008. After their kids were born, Whitney was able to stay home to care for the family.
These days, family time is spent at the cemetery where nick is buried.
"It's not really my place of comfort, but our kids love it," she said. "They like to be up there and play around."
Whitney is focusing her attention on their kids: 4-year-old twins, Evelyn and Owen, and 13-month-old Emma.
They are all taking it day by day, but they know life can be unpredictable. Just recently, Whitney felt like things were finally beginning to settle down, and then the dishwasher broke.
"That's really made the last couple of days really hard, and it's because Nick could look at something and it was, I don't know, magically fixed," she said.
On August 23, the 33-year-old trooper was shot while serving a high-risk warrant in East St. Louis. Whitney had to explain to the children that their father was not coming home. Hopkins was killed just days before his youngest daughter Emma's first birthday.
"They were like, 'Okay, but what about Emma's birthday party tomorrow? Is he going to come home for that?'
A federal grand jury has indicted the man accused of killing Trooper Hopkins. Christopher Grant is charged with first-degree murder, unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon, armed violence, unlawful delivery of a controlled substance. His bond is set at $5 million.
Nick was a 10-year-veteran of the Illinois State Police serving most of his time on the SWAT team. Whitney said he kept his work and home lives separate and always put his family first.
"He did everything he could to be there for (our children), and to make sure that they knew that he was there," Whitney said. "He would say, 'Doesn't matter where I am, call me anytime, call me anytime, and if I can't pick up, I`ll call you right back,' and so, we did."
They continue that tradition by talking to him every night before bed.
Whitney said she misses the little things like being able to text her husband. They have missed having around for some big events also like Emma's first birthday and her first steps.
"I'm so glad to have had the 15 years that I did have with him, and that I get to see it in their little faces," she said.
Trooper Nick Hopkins is one of four fallen first responders who will be honored on Wednesday, October 23 during the St. Louis Hero Network's "Fall Night for the Fallen," a bi-state dine out event with more than 125 restaurants participating. Each restaurant will decide what percentage of the proceeds will go directly to the Hopkins family as well as the families of Godfrey Fire Captain Jake Ringering, Maryland Heights Fire Protection District Firefighter/Paramedic Chris Moore, and North County Police Cooperative Officer Michael Langsdorf.