The Cookie Tosser

By Kim Seeley

The Cookie Tosser

“Ouch!” yelled Iris.

“What was that?” asked Amanda.

“I’m not sure,” said Meredith. The three girls scoured the pavement for evidence of the material that had pelted them as they returned from their walk on the beach. There was no question; they had been assaulted by chocolate chip cookies.

“Sorry!” boomed a chorus of voices from a deck on a nearby house. “We didn’t think they would hurt.” The three teenage boys scrambled down the outside steps of the deck and further apologized to the girls. Quickly, the girls reassured them that the cookies had not caused any real damage. Introductions were made. The boys were from New Jersey; the girls were from Virginia. All were at the Outer Banks of North Carolina for spring break with their parents.

Amanda, Iris and Meredith brought the boys to our cottage for parental approval. We three moms agreed that the boys could visit and watch TV in the second-floor den as long as we moms were home. The teens enjoyed TV, snacks and drinks and made plans for a walk on the beach the following day. The next few days were a delightful combination of icy plunges in the neighborhood pool, long walks on the beach and dashes into the chilly waters of the Atlantic. The six teens enjoyed their week together and returned to their homes armed with e-mail addresses and promises to keep in touch.

Amazingly, several did keep in touch. One guy in particular, Frank, e-mailed the girls regularly and sent letters by regular mail occasionally. Throughout their high school years and the first year of college, Frank remained a frequent correspondent. They sent photos and news of proms and graduations across the miles. Whenever I brought in a letter with his return address, I would give it to my daughter with the comment, “It’s from the cookie tosser.”

In August of 2003, tragedy struck. My daughter, Amanda, was killed in an automobile accident. My family and her friends were totally devastated. Meredith e-mailed Frank in New Jersey with the news of Amanda’s death. He sent us a thoughtful card of condolence, mentioning not only his grief at Amanda’s loss, but the friendship and comfort he had found throughout the years in her letters and e-mails. We were humbled by many such letters from high school and college friends, amazed at the impact our 19-year-old daughter’s loving spirit and zest for life had had on so many of her peers.

The first few months of grief passed in the blur that is caused by our bodies’ reaction to pain; the numbness, the shock, the anger – there was no mental or emotional stress that my family and I did not feel. Everything we had read about in the books on grief was true and present, perhaps not in the prescribed order, but all the expected results of trauma were with us and in us. We were surviving, one day at a time.

We dreaded the coming holiday season, as we had never dreaded one before. My husband and I had previously endured the first holiday without a parent, first my dad, then his dad, then his mom; this was different. We made plans to visit our other daughter, Melissa, at her home in Myrtle Beach. We could not face the thought of being in our home on Christmas Day without Amanda.

About a week before Christmas, my husband brought in a box along with the usual assortment of Christmas cards. The return address was in New Jersey. I drew a blank. Who did I know in New Jersey? I opened the box to find a Christmas card from the cookie tosser, Frank, and two dozen chocolate chip cookies. In his card, he once again shared warm memories of my beautiful daughter and the joy that knowing her had brought into his life.

Every year since Amanda’s death, my husband and I have received a Christmas card from the cookie tosser, along with another batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies. More importantly, he sends us a reminder that Amanda’s loving nature and kind spirit are still remembered, even by those who knew her only for a short while. And even in the depths of grief, that knowledge brings us joy.

About this writer

  • Kim Seeley Kim Seeley, a former librarian and English teacher, lives with her husband, Wayne, in Wakefield, Virginia. She is a frequent contributor to Sasee and Chicken Soup for the Soul. Her most recent story, “Amanda’s Jonquils,” can be found in Chicken Soup: Messages from Heaven. She loves to read, play the piano, travel and spend time with her grandson, Evan.

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