For the first time since her husband was shot and killed after discovering someone trying to rob his home, the widow of Rowan County volunteer firefighter Marcus Kauffman is talking about what happened, how she's coping, and the amazing outpouring of love she's felt from her faith, family, friends, and strangers.
By now you've seen their faces, and you know their story, but there's much more to it than just a tale of senseless crime.
"He was goofy, passionate, and deep, all at the same time," is the way Maryann Kauffman described Marcus. "He just lived very passionately with everything he had, everything he did he did very passionately."
Marcus and Maryann met at a Bible camp in South Carolina almost three years ago it was a case of love at first sight, at least for one of them.
"I noticed him a little bit, but I didn't want to think of him like that - at that point. I was thinking of him as a friend, but apparently for him it was more the other way," Maryann remembers.
"His parents said he came home talking about me right away and from that we started talking a lot, and yeah, within, my dad had us wait eight-months just to be sure, but by that time we were pretty much head over heels in love."
They were married, and then planning for birth of their first child.
"And his son, I've never seen a daddy more excited about his child," Maryann told WBTV. "Every little stage that I was in the pregnancy he had to - like every week that I would be one week further along - he would be reading up on what's happening with the baby that week. He was so excited. He talked to him all the time and he loved this little boy so much and was so proud of him."
And then, Marcus Kauffman was shot trying to protect his home.
"It was just a couple men and I don't think it was, I don't think it was their plan originally. I don't think they planned to kill my husband," Maryann said. "It was terrible and completely heartless of them, but I also, I don't know, all of the good people that have been reaching out to me has been overwhelming."
For days family and friends waited and hoped and prayed, but Marcus Kauffman did not survive.
"After Marcus did die, I battled a little bit with questions like 'God why did you give me that hope if it isn't going to happen?' And I felt a little bit betrayed, I guess, by God, because I had trusted him so much," Maryann said.
"But he's just shown me, it's like he's crushed me and it hurt so much, but yet he's, at the same time, just showing me he loves me through all the days, he's taking such good care of me. Like if this was going to happen, he couldn't be taking care of me better and the love people have shown me. I feel like God's been hugging me, himself, through all these people that are reaching out to me and he's been personally meeting with me. I just feel him so clearly that I can't feel betrayed by him because I know he's doing this."
But Maryann's faith was never broken. She says she felt the love of God in the outpouring of support given to her by so many.
She says that love was shown in places like at a packed fundraiser at a Subway restaurant, and through all the prayers, notes, and even posts on a special prayer Facebook page that quickly was followed by thousands.
"I just want people to know how extremely grateful I am and that I'm not taking any of this for granted," Kauffman said.
"All of the support, it means so much to me, the fundraisers, the way everyone is reaching out, it means so much to me and it has helped me so much and I just want people to know that, that I really do appreciate it."
And it is in her love of God, a faithful family and strength of community, that Maryann Kauffman has persevered.
"I've so many times said 'I don't know where I would be' or 'how I would be making it through this without God' because without that hope that he has a perfect plan in this - it would feel completely hopeless."
But I know without a doubt that my God has a plan in this and that he's going to fulfill it and it's going to be beautiful," Kauffman added.
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