Alan Jackson‘s daughter, Mattie Selecman, is opening up about her grief, three years after losing her husband, attorney Ben Selecman in injuries sustained in a fall on a boat dock in Florida. Selecman writes about the heartbreaking experience in her new book, Lemons on Friday, and the lessons she has learned since becoming a widow when she was just 28 years old.
“I had no idea how to even speak to some of my closest friends and family about how I was feeling.” Selecman tells People of the inspiration for the book. “I thought if 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, then it was time for me to start writing.”
The couple had been married just under a year on that fateful day in Florida, when Ben fell on the boat dock, hitting his head in the process.
“He just slipped,” Selecman recounts. “The dock was wet, which caused him to fall back and hit his head. It was a pretty long fall, but it was one of those things where it’s almost like watching somebody play high school football, where they shake it off. They’re awake and they start to get back up and maybe they have a mild concussion or whatever.”
It was two off-duty EMTs who saw the fall and made the suggestion that Ben go to the ER and get checked out. From there, Selecman’s life as she knew it began to quickly unravel.
“The neurosurgeons started to say, ‘Hey, there’s a chance we’re going to have to do surgery because his brain is swelling and that’s really where the danger lies,'” Selecman recounts. “But at that point, he was awake. He was disoriented and in pain, but he was awake.”
No one, not even Selecman or Jackson and his wife, Denise, thought that Selecman’s injuries would prove fatal.
“I prepared myself for several years of physical therapy and the idea that we would have to go to a brain trauma clinic,” Selecman says, adding that her husband had multiple surgeries, and was placed in an 11-day medically-induced coma. “But at the time, we were thinking that waking him up was like the light at the end of the tunnel.”
The decision to wake Selecman up they thought would be the beginning of his path to healing, But a blood clot had broken off in his head, which caused several strokes, and severe brain damage.
“You can’t ever imagine that high of a high and that low of a low within a three-minute window,” Selecman reflects. “And from there, it was less than 24 hours before his heart started to fail.”
While Selecman would have every right to be bitter, she has remained strong in her faith, in spite of experiencing unimaginable heartbreak.
“We prayed for Ben to be healed and whole and perfect,” Selecman reflects. “And now he is. He’s healed and he is whole, and he is perfect for eternity now, just not the way that we wanted.”
Although Lemons on Friday details the accident that forever altered the course of her life, she insists it is really a story of hope and healing..
“This is a story about how you go about honestly grieving something that is heartbreaking, that you know God could have stopped,” Selecman maintains. “And for some reason, He didn’t, and you have to grapple with that. 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.”
“I don’t believe God chose to inflict this pain on me,” she adds. “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 … My greatest hope is that people just see my story for what it is. 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.”
Selecman wrote a song with Jackson, “Racing the Dark,” which is available now for those who pre-order Lemons on Friday. The book will be available on November 16.