Out of Darkness Into the Light
Being THANKFUL means giving thanks for something that was given to you.
Being GRATEFUL means to appreciate what you have compared to what you want.
November… the eleventh month of the year, a time of transition from summer to fall, a month of anticipation–holiday festivities, family celebrations, and the countdown to a new year… leaving the old behind and stepping into the new, a time for thankfulness and gratefulness. But thankfulness and gratefulness became foreign to me seven years ago.
September 19, 2013, my youngest daughter, Maggie Catherine Minter, was killed instantly in a car wreck. Needless to say, it was, and is, the hardest and most devastating loss I have ever experienced. It changed the person I was, the person I am, and made me face some realities about life and about people, some good, some bad. I have also lost other close family members during these last seven years, but to bury your own child is something I was not supposed to have to do. A parent should never have to bury their child. I struggled! I was sad; I was lost, and I was hurting!
For seven years, I dreaded November. I despised the Facebook theme of, “What I’m Thankful For…” every November. People were posting day after day what they were thankful for, and I couldn’t find any thankfulness or gratefulness to post about. I was just trying to hold it together and make it, one day at a time.
Maggie was 19 and had already graduated from high school, and she was in that transition between high school and “what do I want to do with my life?” Working for Liberty Eylau ISD as the At-Risk Coordinator, I daily come in contact with students who have been placed in a disciplinary setting or alternative setting for various reasons. I have made it my mission to help other students who need support and guidance. Not getting to be there for Maggie, to help find her career path, has made me want to help my students even more. I’ve held fundraisers in Maggie’s memory, and I was able to help two students finish a welding class, another one complete a CNA course, and to send the art class at TISD on a field trip to Dallas. All those things brought some healing to my heart and soul. I wanted to keep her memory alive. They say the things you do for yourself are gone when you’re gone, but the things you do for other people, that is your legacy, that is what lives on. I felt comfort and gratitude for the ability to help struggling students in Maggie’s memory. I was thankful to be able to help someone.
I can say that I am grateful for the 19 years I had, being Maggie’s mom, seeing her achievements, seeing the influence of our family and what it was molding her to become. She had a hilarious sense of humor, a fun-loving wit, and a boldness with anything she was involved in. She was fearless. She enjoyed sports such as volleyball, basketball and soccer and enjoyed painting in a style that was all her own. She was an advocate for the underdog and used that strong personality to let her thoughts and opinion be known. I often think about what she would be like if she had lived to be the 26-year-old young woman that she would have been today.
My oldest daughter, Molly Minter Kendrick, was, and still is, a tower of strength for me. She helped me through the devastating journey of this new life without Maggie; while at the same time, dealing with the loss of her sister. One evening a few months after Maggie passed, she came over and I was so sad and barely answering her. I was in a daze from the brain fog, and she told me, “Mom, I know you miss Maggie. I do too, but I’m still here and I need you!” That jolted me and started me on my path to healing. Molly still needed me! Those words gave me strength to pull myself together and be the mother Molly needed me to be.
Now for the month of November 2020, despite COVID and chaos in the world, I can say and mean the words, ‘I AM SO THANKFUL AND VERY GRATEFUL!’
On August 6, 2020 Molly and her husband Justin gave me a grandbaby. Even the night she told me she was pregnant there began an immediate and deep healing of my heart. I had been waiting for this day for a while and had already picked out what I wanted to be called. “Gemma.”
“Dearer than our children, are the children of our children” is such a true saying! Madelyn Drew Kendrick (aka “Maddie”) arrived at 10:50 pm, 8/6/2020. With the restrictions of COVID, I could not be there but with modern day technology, I didn’t miss much! Justin kept us all updated, and we had a beautiful video to watch after her birth, from the time they left the house to head to the hospital, until the time they had Maddie and arrived back home. I plan to be a part of everything about her life and will tell her about Aunt Maggie! Though Maggie can never be replaced, and Madelyn is her own person, we all sometimes think we see a resemblance of Maggie in Madelyn. It will be fun to watch her grow up and know she was given to us as a gift from God when our hearts needed healing! Madelyn is the apple of my eye, the joy of my life, and just what my heart needed to heal from so much heartache through the past seven years. Her smile and laughter are like medicine to the soul, and I thank God every day for my sweet family which was made complete by Madelyn Drew Kendrick.
“A grandchild fills a space in your heart that you never knew was empty.”