ROCKFORD (WREX) — Harlan Addington said he thought his life would change when he asked his girlfriend of almost a year to marry him on Wednesday.
It did. But not in the way he expected. His new fiancee, Tammy Shaw, was hit and killed by a car on Alpine Road, just one day later.
“So it hadn’t even been 24 hours since I asked her and we were so happy and looking forward to that,” said Addington. “It’s hard for me to talk about it.”
Addington said Shaw, 44, left her home on Edgebrook Drive to walk to a gas station. She was killed just a quarter mile from home.
“It’s still surreal her not being here right now,” said Addington, while holding on to a framed picture of Shaw’s college degree.
Shaw graduated from Rock Valley College and was an administrative assistant at Behavioral Medicine, PC in Loves Park. Shaw would check patients into the care facility and take care of paperwork.
Addington said her love to care for other people made her perfect for the job.
“You could be a complete stranger and she would care about them and whatever their issue was,” he said. “She would take to heart for them and do anything for them. She’d do anything she could to relieve their problems.”
Addington said he met Shaw just more than a year ago and the two instantly saw a special connection to one another. He said they were born the same year, in the same hospital, just two months apart. Addington and Shaw had the same eye color, a bright hazel with hints of green, and liked the same food and TV shows.
“I can sum it in one word. She was my soulmate. I connected to her in so many levels,” said Addington. “That deep connection on so many levels is hard to find.”
One of the many things Addington will remember about Shaw is she made him a better man in countless ways.
“I’ll remember to make sure to make the bed,” he said as he smiled. “That was one of her things she really, really made sure I did.”
Addington said Shaw was very good about cleaning in particular, calling her standards, “Tammy clean.”
“So yeah, every time I get up I’m going to make sure I make my bed every day for her,” said Addington. “And make sure the place is ‘Tammy clean.'”
He said even though he knew Shaw for a year and two months, she made a special connection to Addington’s 9-year-old son from a previous marriage.
“She had accepted my son as her own and treated him with absolute love,” he said. “You couldn’t ask for a better stepmom in this world.”
Addington said he was with his son when he got the news Thursday that Shaw was involved in a crash. They were visiting his son’s mother before Addington left to head to the scene.
“I raced over to the location and lost it,” he said. “Just in disbelief. All I can remember is just screaming. I’m so hoarse right now and still in shock over it all.”
When the news started to sink in that Shaw had died, Addington broke down as he realized their engagement had only just begun.
“I just [gave] her a nice ring, a beautiful bouquet of flowers,” he said. “We were going to discuss [setting a date for the wedding] after I was done taking my son to visit with his mother.”
A day after her death, Addington had a message for Shaw, saying he will never forget his soulmate.
“I will miss you, baby. I will miss you for the rest of my life,” he said. “And I long for the day where we can reunite in heaven. And I love you baby and I’ll miss you.”
13 WREX will have more on Harlan Addington’s story and his interview on 13 News at 5 and 6.