Mattie Jackson Selecman’s inspiring memoir, Lemons on Friday: Trusting God Through My Greatest Heartbreak, hit bookshelves today, Nov. 16. And it’s chock-full of hope, heartbreak, and healing.
The memoir chronicles Mattie’s grieving process and journey to find her faith again. She lost her husband, Ben Selecman, when he was only 28 years old in 2018. They were weeks away from celebrating their one-year wedding anniversary when Ben slipped and hit his head on a dock. Twelve days later, Mattie lost the love of her life.
Over the last three years, the oldest daughter of Alan Jackson has struggled to navigate the greatest tragedy of her life. But she chronicled her hardest moments and greatest triumphs in a personal journal, eventually channeling those thoughts and experiences into this extraordinary book. Alan and Denise Jackson wrote the foreword as well, giving an insight into the family’s love for Mattie and Ben.
In Lemons on Friday, Mattie Jackson Selecman paints a poignantly honest picture of grief. From the little “papercuts” that slice her to her core to the large milestones—first Christmas, first birthday, first anniversary without Ben. She reflects on how her relationship with God wavered and fractured before righting itself again. And she realizes how she lost a bit of who she is as a person the same day she lost her husband.
Mattie Jackson Selecman Reveals ‘Hardest’ Chapter
Outsider chatted with Mattie Jackson Selecman about her newly released memoir. At one point, Mattie opened up about the most difficult section of the book to write. The chapter she described is titled, “A Better Name: Who Am I Now?” and details Mattie’s struggles with her own identity after losing the “label” of wife and gaining the label of “widow.”
“Just to be 28 when everyone else is starting what you have been completely robbed up, was one of the most painful parts of the entire grieving process for me and remains so,” Mattie shared.
“It was very raw and it’s something that I think God is still healing in my heart even now. And so when I look back on everything in there, it was the toughest to get through personally. It was the toughest to get out on paper. But it’s honestly the chapter I’m most proud of.”
The entire chapter is a powerful, insightful, raw outtake on how grief changes who you thought you were. In the end, Mattie reflects on how the one “label” that will never change for her is “Daughter of the King of Heaven.”
“It was just this huge physical, spiritual, mental, exhale,” Mattie Jackson Selecman said. “It was like, ‘Your identity’s never gonna change, you’re gonna have different roles in your life, they’re gonna come and go.’ But we just can’t hang the crux of our identity on anything besides being a Daughter of the King. And it just felt like I can have stability in this when everything else feels so unstable.”
Slowly but surely, Lemons on Friday details Mattie’s progress towards stability. She knows she won’t ever be completely okay, but she details how she and other widows deal with that.
Mattie hits you hard right from the get-go, telling readers, “Grief doesn’t come with a handbook.” But this could be as close as it gets.