This story airs Tuesday on WBIR in the Smokies Strong special at 7 p.m.
"I can't wait to see the tree when it's really big," said Grant Reed standing near the memorial for his granddaughters Lily and Chloe Reed.
"When I come here there's a connection I feel to them," Reed said.
The memorial stands tall with a magnolia tree planted and rooted in their memory at Pi Beta Phi Elementary, where the girls went to school.
Reed visits the tree and recollects on the day that changed their family forever: Nov. 28, 2016.
"The closer we've gotten to the anniversary, the harder it's been for all of us. Especially him," Reed said about his son Michael, who lost his wife Constance and girls Chloe and Lily.
"He's been counting down to November 29. He says 'I have to get through all the firsts before I can... not move on but start to function differently' so he's just about there and this is just about the hardest point," Reed added.
Since that day, his son has been helping others in memory of his family.
"He's offering support in the depth of his tragedy," Reed said.
In memory of Constance, who said she was abused growing up, Michael started the Reed Foundation to create awareness and prevent sexual abuse.
Through his foundation, he's asked sexual abuse survivors to "shed the shame" by sharing their story.
He's also started fighting for a national law named after his wife to help connect abused children with law enforcement during a crisis.
"We always said if we can find one person we can help then it's all worth it. And there have been many since," Reed said about his son's efforts.
Reed is proud of Michael and what he's done to help people through his loss.
"It's never going to go away so it's what we do with it and he's doing something remarkable with it. He's already helped a lot of people," he added.
Through it all, Reed believes his son did something else truly remarkable.
To the two teens accused of starting the deadly fire, Michael wrote a letter of forgiveness.
"We know you didn't mean for this to happen. we know you would take it back if you could. We will pray for you everyday. We will pray for your parents and family members everyday. We will pray for your peace we will show you grace. Why? Because that's what Jesus would do. Faith, hope and love. The greatest of these is love," Reed read part of the letter out loud.
Reed said Michael lives by that testament everyday.
"He still has so many struggles of his own, I don't know how he can do both at the same time but he does. It's very important to him that he helps as many as he can in memory of his wife and girls," Reed said.
Smokies Strong:Special Section
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