If you ask most parents, their worst nightmare is losing a child. In 2018, Nick Reeder experienced another kind of loss that forever changed his family: the loss of his children’s mother.
Nick’s wife, Amanda Reeder, died of an amniotic fluid embolism (AFE) an hour after giving birth to their twins. That day, Nick became a single dad of three daughters.
“Leaving the hospital 36 hours later with my two little girls without my wife, it was the saddest time of my life,” he said in the show. “I didn’t know what I was gonna do.”
After his wife’s passing, Nick moved the family out of their former home because the memories were too painful. Nick’s mom, Jeanine Reeder, moved in to help out with the girls, but the living situation for the Reeders was less than ideal. The five of them shared a small apartment, with Jeanine sleeping in the same room as the babies and their oldest daughter, Layla, sleeping with Nick. As the full time captain of the Cal Fire Department and a father of three, keeping up with the house was the least of Nick’s priorities.
“It’s like I’m on a treadmill that doesn’t stop,” Nick told AfterBuzz TV. “It gets built up, built up, built up. And then I get overwhelmed and I’ll take a Saturday or something and have to just spend a whole day getting the dishes done and laundry and catching up.”
When Extreme Makeover: Home Edition showed up, it was just in the nick of time. Three weeks before they knocked on the Reeders’ door, Jeanine was diagnosed with breast cancer. Having sacrificed her own space to move in with her son and grandchildren, she needed this good news as much as Nick did.
“We were playing games, watching cartoons, singing, and then boom: ‘Reeder family, come on out!’ And it was just the most overwhelming feeling that I’ve had in a very, very long time,” Nick said.
The finished product, a brand new mountain rustic-style home, surpassed all of Nick’s expectations.
“Watching it on TV Sunday night doesn’t even do it justice. This house is just so much better,” he said. “Now I have a future for my girls and for me…at that moment it was just complete joy.”
Not only do Nick and Jeanine have their own bedrooms now, but the girls’ have a playroom and a firehouse-themed playhouse outside–along with a pool, a necessity for the California summer heat. Nick has his own space to decompress, too: an in-home gym in the garage. He says moving into their new home has played an important role in his healing process.
“They say that home is where the heart is. For me, I’ve lost a part of my heart with Amanda being gone. But this house, it just embodies so much heart because of all the love that people put into this house. It doesn’t fill that gap, but it helps.”
Something that gives Nick peace is knowing that his wife would be happy that their family is taken care of.
“This is her dream home. This is the home she would have built if she had had that opportunity,” he said. “She was all about safety. That was her thing, safety first. Put aside how amazing and beautiful, fantastic it is, it’s safe. I think that’s what she would love.”
After touring his new home for the first time, Nick had trouble accepting that it was his, expressing on the show that he “didn’t deserve all of this.” As someone with a background in construction, he says he even wishes he could have been there to help build his own house. Watching the episode back, Nick says he’s grateful that his whole family has received this gift.
“I’m a giver by nature. I’m a fireman. I don’t take, I give. And I’ll give and give and give until I don’t have any more to give,” he explained. “For me to receive was hard to comprehend, and I needed to put that aside and realize that it’s not just me, it’s for the girls, and they’re receiving this, too.”
The house is full of reminders of Amanda: her favorite white roses bloom in the backyard, photos of her hang in the playroom, and three roses are engraved in their family crest on the Reeders’ dinner table to represent their daughters.
Since her passing, Nick has spent time volunteering with an AFE foundation in her memory. That’s where he met Miranda, a survivor of AFE who showed up to help build his new house. Nick says seeing all the people who came out to help his family restores his faith in humanity.
“It definitely gave me a better outlook on people and how they can all come together and just give out of their hearts, and not expect anything in return,” he said. “You don’t see that a lot these days and I saw it firsthand, 100 percent. People actually care, and that’s what meant so much to me.”
The Reeders have now lived in their new house for seven months. Nick says he can’t wait until the summer, when they can get back in the swimming pool and he can see the joy on his daughters’ faces as they play outside.
If you want to listen to our full interview with Nick, checkout AfterBuzz TV’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition Insider podcast. Extreme Makeover: Home Edition airs on HGTV Sundays at 9 p.m. ET, but will air an additional episode at 8 p.m. this week. Follow AfterBuzz TV for interviews with the families every week.
About The Author:
Meagan Lynn is a host at AfterBuzz TV and Elon University graduate with a degree in journalism. She loves singing, listening to inspirational podcasts and watching reality TV.
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