Since You’ve Been Gone. A Note to Maggie Lee

#maggieleeforgood

#maggieleeforgood

Heaven fascinates me. My daughter moved there five years ago today. I have thoroughly researched the Biblical view of Heaven. My library bulges with books on the topic from experts, Heavenologists and people who claim to have visited and returned to Earth. Think Travelocity reviews on a more esoteric scale.

I believe in a Heaven because Jesus taught about Heaven. I believe in Jesus because his words are the most beautiful I’ve ever read and, in my youth, I developed an immediate crush on anyone ever playing him in Godspell. As I have sought to emulate the beauty of his life as the truest representation of God, I have failed but grown more deeply in awe of who he is and who he has been to me. 

There is no credible evidence to prove our loved ones can read the letters we compose. Yet still we compose. Then again, precious little about the death process makes any sense. One moment you are here and the next, gone? Mortality is a bizarre phenomenon. I no more understood my child dying then the myriad of hermit crabs, gerbils and rabbits I lost in my youth.  Perhaps we just make friends with the oddity of death rather than ever truly understand it. 

What I have always known is that time is limited and it matters how we live. Each seemingly trivial day overflows with importance. I have discovered that what I miss the most is the every day, utterly forgettable stuff of mundane life: Scraps of conversation, baking, laughing hysterically in Walgreens over a bizarre pair of Valentine boxers hanging right out there in front of God and everybody. Just the little things, the fruit of being in sync with your child, is the good stuff. 

And so this letter is about the little things that have changed. I covered the biggies in our book but this is the silly happenings on this side of eternity.

Maggie Lee,

A lot has changed in the world since you left it in 2009. Let me start with the obvious:

1) Hannah Montana: She’s grown up…and not in the best way. She may still have the best of both worlds but it may mean something slightly different now. I’m pretty sure a line of sleeping bags emblazoned with Miley Cyrus’ current image appeals to a different set than the six to ten-year-olds. Like most of America, chances are you would have long since outgrown her by now. What I have seen come into vogue is the zebra-striped camp trunks like I painted for you which only proves that we were epic trendsetters.

2) Sponge Bob: finally gets his driver’s license. The Puff fish Driver’s Ed Instructor Mrs. Puff passed him just to get rid of him it would seem. Oh, and your little brother takes the test for his in just a few months. Can. You. Even? Fear has only made my quills explode once or twice during the supervision process. I routinely, involuntarily clutch the door handle in horror which strangely he doesn’t appreciate. All good so far. He installed embarrassing, noisy mufflers that make me feel like we can’t afford to get the problem fixed. Swimming in Testosterone here. 

3) Netflix: is not just those DVD’s we could never remember to put in the return mail like our responsible neighbors The Goodmans. It is Jack’s part-time job this Summer. People binge-watch whole series and I can totally see us cranking through the first few seasons of Downton Abbey. Ok perhaps I idealize our relationship but I know you would try to get into it the way Ellie has. At any rate Netflix is a thing and has changed how we watch T.V. Earth-shaking stuff here. 

4) The Jonas Brothers: Hope you are sitting for this. Have grown up. And broken up. Kevin got married and his wife had a baby. I know right? Your ex-crush, Joe, recently boasted that Appleby’s follows him on Twitter. Seems that’s all he’s got in the hopper. Nick has a new album out and some weird Chain song so there are certainly high hopes for a reunion tour. Perhaps sponsored by Appleby’s.

5) Texting: Something that we had just begun doing your 6th grade year. Chances are besides texting you would be using Snap Chat, Instagram, Twitter, Branch and Vine now. How we as humans communicate constantly changes but what we have to say does not. Do you remember my actor friend, Ray Ford who told you to “Figure out what you have to say to the world?” There are thousands each year who carry out what they think your message would be. Which brings me to another update.

6) Maggie Lee for Good: Ok, I am sure that word has gotten to you about what is going on down here on your birthday. It is. In. Sane. When you were in Batson Children’s Hospital in Jackson, people all over the world prayed for you. Thousands of them. When that miracle did not come many began doing good deeds on October 29th. Out of that has come annual projects as well as a closet in your name here in Shreveport. People donate clothes and money for uniforms and kids shop for free in YOUR CLOSET! They come in in bathing suits in January sometimes and have no socks or undies and get a bag full of beautiful things which they select, try on, and model in front of a huge mirror.

People are just flat-out determined to spread God’s love on your birthday and even now year-round.

7) Jesus: You have a better view of him than I do but I just have to tell you how sweet He has been to me. As you know you and Jack were supposed to be the gifts I left to the world, not gifts I would have to live without. The crazy thing is that I catch life being beautiful again these days. There are still moments of darkness but the feeling of moving forward has triumphed. You are truly forward, anyway.

I know you probably won’t see my random musings. But I do pray each day for you to know how grateful I am that God chose me to be your Mom, if only for a short twelve years. So much has indeed changed in this world but my love for you simply never will.

17 thoughts on “Since You’ve Been Gone. A Note to Maggie Lee

  1. Absolutely hilarious & beautiful all at the same time. Something deep inside of me thinks that she is aware of your thoughts & love for her!

  2. Jinny, have you ever considered registering as a speaker for the Stonecroft ministries organization? I am new chair for our local organization which meets the 1st Wed of each month at East Ridge Country Club for a luncheon meeting. I have been given a list of qualified speakers from which to choose for our organization and did not find your name there – – and wanted to ask you to come for one of our meetings.

    Would you please call me to discuss? I do not know if this is something you want to do at all, but I would love to have you!! My prayers continue for you and family and I am amazed at how God has given you strength to carry on serving Him in all the various ministries!!!

    Looking forward to speaking with you,

    Mary Lou Tindall 318-219-0688 maryloutindall@att.net

  3. I don’t know you, but somehow began following your story on CaringBridge. I prayed for Maggie Lee & your family as if they were my own family and was devastated when ML lost her struggle. You have been on my mind the last week or so as I have been praying for 2 sweet families in Macon, Georgia. This is quite disjointed, so bear with me. Bob & Kelly Hoffman & their son Grant used to live in McAllen, TX & they went to “my” church. They now live in Macon & Bob is the coach for the Mercer Bears. Their son, Grant is 17 or 18 and will be a senior this fall. He & his girlfriend, Abby Hinson (here comes the thinking of you) were in a car accident a week ago last Wednesday. Their vehicle spun our of control, hit a tree and rolled over. Both suffered head injuries, cuts & broken bones. Grant is now home, but Abby lost her battle & is now in Heaven with Jesus …. and Maggie Lee. Somehow, I hope they get to know each other. Maybe they’re distantly related?!!? Both families are devastated. So, while you’re praying, please add these two sweet Christian families. There stories remind me of yours … so, so devastated, but still so, so full of Jesus.

    I love reading your posts. You are truly a gifted writer. Blessings to you & your family. May God continue to give your peace & comfort. And, may your mind continue to be flooded with sweet, sweet memories.

    A friend in Jesus,

    Sherry Fuller

  4. This is beautiful. Thank you for sharing this with the world as you have shared your beautiful daughter’s memory. She was truly a special girl and she has left a wonderful legacy.

  5. So sweet and so perfect. Thank you for letting us read your letter to Maggie Lee. You never know how many people it will minister to in some way. May God continue to hold you close on the “dark” days so you can laugh and dance in the sunny days.

  6. Jinny

    I am from Shreveport and have been here all my life. I met you one time as you spoke at a girls bible study my oldest daughter attended. I prayed for Maggie and kept up with her story daily and was devasted when she passed away. Tears stream down as I read your post today. The Lord says all things work out for good for those who love him and WOW how true this is with your story. God has done so many amazing things and is still doing through Maggie. Thank you for sharing with us and you are such a testimony to Gods faithfulness and a reminder that our children God has blessed us with are a Gift from Him for however long he wants us to have them. As I too will have a new driver at my house I constantly tell myself that God is in control and that I need to let go and trust Him. I am looking foward to the rest of your Godstory!!!
    Thank you for sharing!

  7. Jinny,
    I am overcome with emotions, both happy and sad, after reading lovely, thought provoking words that you shared with us. Matthew still talks about Maggie Lee, and we all pray much stronger and deeper since her death. Maggie Lee made LIFE mean more to many of her friends at First Baptist. I know it seriously changed my son. I am blessed that he realized how temporary life can be on earth, and he has been quite responsible, mature, and dedicated to making his life meaningful. Thank you for a memorable letter that had me laughing, crying, and the best feeling of all, laughing & crying simultaneously!

  8. I never knew what Maggie Lee for Good was, per se, but I knew about your devastating loss. This is funny, poignant, sad … God bless you !

  9. Absolutely beautiful!!! I have had tears running down my face as I laugh and cry while reading your post!~ I remember praying for Maggie Lee and I enjoyed meeting you in Tifton Ga. at Northside Baptist Church!~ Thank you for sharing this post with us and most of all, thank you for sharing your precious daughter with the world!!~ God Bless You and your family!~

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