Alan Jackson’s Daughter, Mattie, Shares How She Kept Faith After Her Husband’s Tragic Death
Alan Jackson's oldest daughter, Mattie Jackson Selecman, is opening up about the tragic death of her husband of just 11 months in a new book. In Lemons on Friday, Selecman shares how her faith helped her through the grieving process that followed his untimely death.
Ben Selecman died on Sept. 12, 2018, after suffering a fall during a family celebration on Alan Jackson's boat over Labor Day weekend. Mattie tells People that the day was joyous until it took a terrible turn that nobody could have expected. Selecman suffered head trauma after he fell while helping a woman onto the boat.
"He just slipped," she says. "The dock was wet, which caused him to fall back and hit his head."
The extent of his injuries was not immediately apparent.
"It was a pretty long fall, but you know, it was one of those things where it's almost like watching somebody play high school football, where they shake it off," Jackson Selecman observes. "They're awake and they start to get back up and maybe they have a mild concussion or whatever."
The situation progressed to where he was taken to the hospital, where doctors suggested surgery might be necessary as Selecman's brain began to swell. Doctors subsequently placed Selecman in a medically induced coma for 11 days and operated on him multiple times. When the decision was made to start waking him up, the family was hopeful.
"I prepared myself for several years of physical therapy and the idea that we would have to go to a brain trauma clinic," Mattie shares. "But at the time, we were thinking that waking him up was like the light at the end of the tunnel."
Instead, Selecman suffered multiple strokes and extensive brain damage within minutes of beginning to wake up, due to a blood clot that had broken off in his cranium. His heart began to fail within 24 hours, and he died shortly after.
His widow says she "had no idea how to even speak to some of my closest friends and family about how I was feeling" in the days following her husband's death. She hoped that "God could use all of my questions and all of my tears and all of the stuff that I was grappling with now that my life was falling apart to make someone else feel like they were not alone," so she began writing the book, for which her famous father and her mother, Denise Jackson, wrote the Foreword.
She says Lemons on Friday is about "how you go about honestly grieving something that is heartbreaking, that you know God could have stopped."
"And for some reason, He didn't, and you have to grapple with that," she admits. "It's also about the many question marks you might have in your future, when you find that so many of your plans have been undone. How do you process that honestly, but also not lose hope."
Despite her questions, Mattie Jackson Selecman says she has not lost her faith.
"I don't believe God chose to inflict this pain on me," she tells People. "I think the world is broken and it's sinful and bad things happen, and docks get wet, and people fall. That's the way that it is."
She's hopeful that her book can help others maintain faith through adversity.
"This book is just a vehicle to show that you can hurt honestly with God, but there is a way to not let that hurt overcome you because of the hope of who He is."
Lemons on Friday is set for release on Nov. 16. The book is currently available for pre-order.
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