Sunday, July 31, 2011

Trannsforming Tragedy

I wanted to share with readers a remarkable story that provides a happy coda to a dark, sad episode in Grits' personal family history: Readers may recall that two years ago (on Tuesday, to be exact) my 12-year old niece, Maggie Lee Henson, died after a tragic church bus accident and three anguished weeks lingering in an intensive care unit in Mississippi. Rather than rush to the state capitol to push for a new criminal statute named after their daughter, my brother and his wife instead designated Maggie's birthday, October 29, "Maggie Lee for Good" day, challenging those who knew and loved her and others whose lives she touched to perform one good deed on that day in her memory. Thousands responded, from small gestures to grand ones. In the Shreveport Times this week, her mother Jinny, shared stories of how the Maggie-Lee-for-Good movement became an unexpected blessing for their family during from the first 24 months after Maggie's death. On her blog this morning, Jinny (who is a Christian comedian by trade) linked to the Shreveport Times story and added these sobering thoughts:
While I would give anything to have her back, and hear that that feeling subsides little as the years go by, I know that we will always be a table with three legs.  As time goes by, you learn to put the heavy stuff on one corner and just where to place the chairs in case things topple, but these gymnastics only serve to remind you of what you lost.

Then again, at least I have a three-legged table while some people have no table at all. I am vastly aware of what I have left. August 2nd marks the one year anniversary of 6 Shreveport teenagers drowned while swimming, one mother losing three children on the same day. That is a pain I cannot fathom.

As we begin our third year of life without Maggie Lee, I have to be thankful for God’s sustaining grace, a loving family and the most unshakable friends in the world.
I was already thinking about Maggie and my brother's family a lot these last few weeks, so I wanted to both share the Shreveport Times story with y'all and publicly express my admiration for Jinny, John, and their son Jack. They each have weathered this terrible storm with remarkable courage and dignity, transforming grief into literally a constructive force. I couldn't be more proud of them for it.

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