It’s been almost three months since a plane crashed into Ken Gemmell’s home in Gaithersburg, MD, killing his wife, Marie; their toddler, Cole; and their newborn, Devin.¬† The nation mourned with Ken and his surviving daughter, Arabelle, through this tragic and devastating lost.¬† Within days, an online fundraiser raised nearly $500K while donations of clothes, necessities, and toys poured in. ¬†Our hearts broke for this family and because of that communal heartbreak, a local NBC affiliate caught up with Ken and Arabelle earlier this week to see how this beloved family was coping in the aftermath‚Ä¶
During the two-part segment, Ken recalled how hard it was to explain the tragedy to 7-year-old Arabelle.¬† ‚“It didn’t make sense to her.”
But, he said the outpouring of support from the community has helped.¬† She’s received countless letters and toys and invitations to events.¬† In fact, the Gemmells’ favorite team, the Denver Broncos, even flew Ken and Arabelle to a playoff game.
Ken said these events are hard for him.¬† He knows they are there, because of what happened, but ‚“to see my daughter smile at these events is really cool”.
‚“As I tell me daughter, we don’t want to let this completely defeat us.¬† We don’t want it to become what defines our lives,” Ken recalled in his interview.¬† ‚“For the most part, we just need to persevere and do what we can to honor Marie, Cole and Devin.”
As a high school and Facebook friend of Ken’s, I can attest to the fact that they are slowly trying to put their lives back together, finding a balance between preserving precious memories of the past and trying to move forward into this new and altered future.¬† When the house was torn down, they went together to say goodbye, to give Arabelle some closure. ¬†When they were ready, they slowly returned to work and school. ¬†Ken seems to always put Arabelle's needs first and think in terms of what’s best for her.¬† He’s a great dad and, as a single dad, he’s trying to create a sense of normalcy for his daughter, taking her to sleepover parties, even learning how to cook.¬† (He’s posted pictures of his culinary triumphs and I have to say the mushroom risotto and homemade pizza looked amazing!)
He’s also posted daily memories of his lost family ‚Äì these are bittersweet to read.¬† You can feel the love and the hurt and the yearning.¬† I still wish I could somehow fix it and make this go away for him.¬† But I truly admire his courage and his strength to go on for Arabelle.¬† I also admire Arabelle herself.¬† Because so many people have helped her, she now wants to help others.¬† In fact, I recall a Facebook post where Ken proudly commented that Arabelle received so many Christmas toys, she wanted to donate some.¬† That touched my heart.
A friend of the family created a website, www.LoveGemmell.com, where friends and family can post their favorite memories of Marie, Cole and Devin, so Arabelle will know them better.¬† I love this idea.¬† I cannot imagine growing up without my mother or kid brother.¬† I applaud this effort and every effort that has been made on the behalf of the Gemmells.¬† The one positive throughout this tragedy is that there really is good in the world and I’m so grateful little Arabelle will grow up knowing that.¬† I hope that gives Marie some peace.¬† She seemed like an extraordinary mom.
If you’d like to watch the two-part segment, please click on the following links:
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