Provo • When Kaylyn Shinners found out she was pregnant with her second child, the moment was different than it was with her first.
The first time, it was an exciting feeling — happiness she shared with her husband, Joseph Shinners.
But when she saw the positive sign on a pregnancy test in early January, her life was entirely different. Her husband, a Provo police officer, had been killed in the line of duty weeks before. She had taken the test just three days after his funeral, and was shocked at the results.
“Initially, I was just kind of like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m having another baby,’” she said Wednesday. “[There was] a lot of numbness.”
But then, her feelings began to change. She would have another little boy, she realized, who would grow up with her other son bonded together in their shared experience of being without their father. They’ll always have each other, even if those around them can’t understand what that’s like.
“They’re the two that are going to be missing their dad,” Kaylyn said in tears. “I’m grateful, so much, that they’ll have each other.”
It’s coming up on the one-year anniversary of when Joseph Shinners was shot and killed in an Orem shopping lot while trying to arrest a man who police say had warrants. And for Kaylyn, it’s been a year of so many changes since she lost her husband on Jan. 5, then gave birth to baby Colton in September — just a day before what would have been her husband’s 30th birthday.
“It’s been a good year honoring my husband,” she said. “And a long year missing him.”
Kaylyn spoke publicly this week about her husband as Provo officials kicked off several fundraisers to raise money to send Shinner’s family and about 40 Provo police officers to Washington, D.C., this spring, when the officer’s name will be added to the National Law Enforcement Memorial. They hope to raise $85,000.
Kaylyn said she hopes taking the trip will help bring closure to not only her, but to the other Provo police officers who have mourned her husband’s death, those whom she calls her “blue family.”
She’s looking forward to meeting with other families who have suffered the same loss.
“We get to come together and share that experience and heal together a little bit,” she said. “And it’s a chance for Provo police officers to also go back and be with other officers who have lost coworkers and have lost friends.”
While Kaylyn doesn’t know exactly what her future holds for her now, she says she makes it a priority to keep her husband’s memory alive in her day-to-day life with her sons, 2-year-old Logan and baby Colton.
She does that by talking to them about him constantly, sharing memories of who he was and the type of things he loved. She wants her boys to go to school when they are older, and when other kids talk about their dads, they can chime in too. If they’re talking about what their dads love to eat, the boys will remember Joseph’s favorite food. (It was prime rib.)
And when Kaylyn looks at her new baby that her husband never got to meet, she sees him in Colton. They look the same, with a similar nose. They have the same temperament.
“He’s been my little angel baby,” she said. “Without my two boys, gosh, it would be so hard to keep trying to be happy. But they give me a big reason to be there.”