On November 11, 2015, Carrie Whitehead received news that no mother should ever have to hear. The unimaginable had happened. Every mother’s worst nightmare became her reality.
Whitehead’s 15-year-old daughter, Lezlie and her best friend were killed in a tragic car accident.
To say Whitehead had a hard time coping is an understatement. She said, “There are no words to explain it. Lezlie was sassy and fun-loving. She was an incredible softball player, #19. She loved her family, a ton of friends. She was full of life. It didn’t seem real that all that life was just gone.” To help her cope, Whitehead was encouraged to write in a journal. “I tried it for a little while, but it wasn’t working for me. I was basically lost for four years searching for answers and feeling like I wasn’t grieving normally.”
Whitehead’s cousin suggested she start blogging, so on January 1, 2019, she began a year-long process of writing about grief. “I knew I wasn’t the only person struggling with all of the different emotions that come along with losing such a huge part of yourself. Everyone grieves differently and there is no such thing as the ‘right way’ to grieve.”
Whitehead said Lezlie was a very giving person. She recalls how her daughter would take money to school to buy food for students that didn’t have lunch.
“She would seriously give someone the shirt off her back”, Whitehead said. So Whitehead began making t-shirts that she knew Lezlie would like, and she used the money she made to help kids attending college. “It was a way for me to keep busy and keep Lezlie’s generous spirit alive,” she said.
Whitehead soon ventured into jewelry and other boutique-type items, and sold them at Levee Street Marketplace in downtown Vicksburg. “I named my little booth ‘Living for Lezlie’ and was able to buy laptops for kids going to school, because that’s what Lezlie would have done.”
Meanwhile, Whitehead had begun working with Archway, a publishing company interested in turning her blog into a book. It was published in August of 2020, and is now available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Kindle as an e-reader.
“I’ve had many people reach out to thank me for telling my story. I used to be a very private person, but keeping Lezlie’s memory alive has given me the strength to be more open. People need to know that they’re not alone or crazy, that there is no wrong way to grieve”, Whitehead said.
Whitehead continues to sell t-shirts, jewelry and other items to raise money for seniors needing help with college expenses. She currently has a booth at The Downtown Marketplace in Yazoo City.
Although Lezlie has left a permanent hole in her mother’s heart, she said she is comforted by the messages and texts she receives to this day. “So many people have told me about the impact Lezlie had on them. So many people‘s lives were touched and improved simply from knowing my little girl.”
Whitehead’s products can be viewed here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/livingforlezlielaw19/?ref=share