NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A wake will be held in the Bronx for veteran FDNY firefighter Christopher Slutman Thursday.

Before the solemn gathering, CBS spoke with his colleagues and widow – who is speaking publicly for the first time – since the Marine’s death.

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“I do better when I’m busy. Idle time is not good. Evenings are hard. Those are… once I have my girls in bed and it’s just me and my thoughts, it’s hard,” Shannon Slutman said.

“Do you talk to him?” CBS News’ Jeff Glor asked.

“Oh yeah. He’s… he’s always with me,” Slutman added.

When Staff Sgt. Christopher Slutman was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan earlier this month, he was just three weeks away from coming home to his wife and their three young daughters.

(L to R) Staff Sgt. Christopher Slutman, Cpl. Robert Hendricks and Sgt. Benjamin Hines killed in Afghanistan roadside bombing on April 8, 2019.

“I have years and years and years of stories to tell our girls so that they don’t forget how blessed they were to have him as a dad. And for me to have him as a husband.”

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The 43-year-old served with the FDNY before being deployed last spring. In 2014, he was awarded a medal for bravery for saving a woman from a burning building in the Bronx.

“He always wanted to better himself. He wanted to be the best. He felt he hadn’t done enough by serving the city of New York for 15 years here in the fire department. He also wanted to go serve his country overseas, and he did,” Capt. Steven Moore said. 

On Tuesday, the FDNY honored Sgt. Slutman at Ladder Company 27, where his uniform and name plate will remain for years to come.

“He’s always gonna be here,” Kevin McGookin said.

He will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery on April 30 – surrounded by hundreds of firefighters, his three daughters, and his wife of 13 years.

“If everybody could experience the type of love that I’ve had, the world would be a better place. I mean when we say that Chris was all-in, he was all-in in anything he did,” Slutman said.

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Funeral services will be held Friday morning at 11 a.m. at St. Thomas Church in Midtown.