In Memory of Leigh Anna Jimmerson: The Second Cooler

Anyone who has seen The Second Cooler knows that on the night of April 17, 2009, my daughter and her boyfriend were killed by a drunk driver in Huntsville, Alabama. Leigh Anna was 16 years old. Her boyfriend, Tad Joseph Mattle, was 19. The driver was an undocumented man from Mexico. I want to explain here why I included a “postscript” in the film about what happened that terrible night.

1913710_1173850593255_5670788_nBecause the film advocates for undocumented immigrants, there were people who felt the film would have more impact on audiences and help me achieve my purpose with the film if I made her death a bigger part of of it. Or, rather, making more of the fact that I forgave the man who killed her would help my purpose in making the film.

Others, after seeing an early version of the film wondered if it was a good idea to include any acknowledgement at all. They wondered whether it might appear self-serving or, worse, negatively affect the ability of the audience to reflect upon the content of the film itself. I, too, worried about both these things.

Yet, I felt I had no real choice but to acknowledge what happened. There were two reasons. The most important reason was that as an advocate, my mission is to pull back the curtain on reality, to expose reality as fully as I can. I concluded that I could not, in good conscience, suppress this piece of reality.

Taken April 17, 2009

Taken April 17, 2009

The second reason was that I believed that if I did not acknowledge her death in a way I thought might be helpful, that others would in ways that would not be helpful. Not 48 hours had passed after their deaths before some people were calling me “the worst mother ever” for forgiving the driver and Tad and Leigh Anna a couple of “stupid kids”.

Needless to say, her father, sister, and I grieve every day of our lives. And we miss, Tad, too, whom we absolutely adored, every single day. We miss the married couple they might have become. The children they might have had. But we cope and try to honor them in ways we feel they would have found meaningful.

Why am I telling you this now? Because on this coming April 17, the sixth anniversary of her death, I will be putting The Second Cooler into distribution. I do it in memory of LAJ and Tad.

5 thoughts on “In Memory of Leigh Anna Jimmerson: The Second Cooler

  1. I think given the theological context of your life, and the place of forgiveness within your theological context, tributing this reality is very important. I didn’t learn true grace until I learned to forgive my abuser, and while that is a different issue altogether, the learning of forgiveness and grace is kingdom-making. Love and light to you. Thank you for writing this.

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  2. It is in facing & sharing our brokenness & grief that we offer them the chance to not only transform us, but others, also. I am & have been transformed by both your passion & your pain.

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  3. Pingback: Ellin Jimmerson: Baptist Minister. Liberation Theologian. Immigrant Advocate. Film Maker. LGBTQ Ally. Craft Cocktail Connoisseur. | prone to wander . . . lured by grace

  4. Your passion, your forgiveness and your grace is beynd measure. I can’t fathom it but I know you and I know your heart and intentions are beyond anything of “this world”. I love you more than words can say. I know God loves me by bringing you into my life!!!!

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