GRIFFIN, Ga. (FOX 5 Atlanta) - It's been 17-months since Alex Maddox lost her husband, Locust Grove police officer Chase Maddox.
His absence is something the 28-year old and their two boys still live with every day.
"The best way to describe it is you just carrying it with you," Alex Maddox says. "You can't stay stuck. We are all definitely, we're still hurting, we're still grieving. We're still coping. I never want to not miss Chase. I never want to be over it."
But in 26-years, Alex Maddox says, Chase taught her a lot about being a parent.
"As young as we were, he was fantastic," she says. "He was the greatest dad I've ever seen."
When Bradin, now 9, was diagnosed with septo-optic dysplasia, a congenital brain abnormality, as a toddler, Alex says her husband stepped up, spending every moment he was not on the job as a Locust Grove police officer with his son. There was their bedtime ritual, she captured on video.
"Chase would hold Bradin and do the anticipation 1, 2, 3 and just drop him on the bed," she remembers. "I just heard Bradin giggle with that anticipation, and hear Chase just laughing just as hard, that is definitely one of my favorite memories."
Then, came that February 9, 2018. The Maddoxes call it "Hero Day."
Backing up two deputies serving a warrant, Chase Maddox was shot in the head.
He died at an area hospital. Four days later, Alex Maddox gave birth to their son Bodie.
"Whenever you lose it a partner, whether you have children or not, special needs or not, half of you is missing. It rips you apart. It shatters everything," she says. "That was one of the hardest things I had to do, was to explain to Bradin the difference between good and evil, and that his dad wasn't going to get to come home to us anymore. But I did make a promise, we would talk about him every day, and we do. We hold up that promise."
Nearly a year and half later, Bradin Maddox is recovering from surgery, performed by Children's Healthcare of Atlanta pediatric orthopedic surgeon Dr. Robert Bruce.
The goal is to realign his feet and ankles, that are buckling inward, and take some of the pressure off his hips, to help him move without pain.
"My hope is that by improving the position of his feet and ankles, he can bear weight better. He can stand better. The surgery we did with his hips may help with mobility in the long run."
Alex Maddox says Bradin seems happier and is smiling more.
"I think, he's in a lot less pain," she says. "Dr. Bruce gave him back a piece of him I don't think any of us knew was completely missing.
Two weeks ago, in physical therapy, Bradin did something he hasn't done for 6 years.
He stood up and took a few steps.
"I instantly started crying," Alex Maddox says. "It was very overwhelming, very heartwarming. He just picked his feet up left and right as if no time had passed at all. He's amazing.
Just like his father.
"Chase's life was cut way too short, and I could've learned a lifetime of knowledge from that man," Alex says. "He taught us all how to love Bradin better, wholeheartedly, without hesitation, to embrace everything Bradin is, everything Bradin can do, everything Bradin will do. And just believe in it.