07/21/05 — Hacketts say spirit of daughter lives on

View Archive

Hacketts say spirit of daughter lives on

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on July 21, 2005 1:49 PM

Nothing prepared Joe and Gena Hackett for the loss of their six-year-old daughter Avery to complications while undergoing brain surgery in December, or for the dark days that followed.

But the couple has chosen to keep the faith that there is something better in life, a greater purpose for them, Hackett said.

And they believe their daughter's spirit lives on through the her organs that were donated to help other children.

Hackett family

News-Argus/Mich Loeber

Avery Hackett's photograph sits in the home of her parents Joe and Gena in Goldsboro. Avery was a first grade student at Meadow Lane Elementary School.

In March, they met the family of a four-year-old Weaverville girl who received Avery's liver. While the girl continues to have health problems, Hackett said it is comforting to know that his daughter was able to help a family get their little girl back.

"It was a great meeting," he said. "Her mom was just overwhelmingly nice. She welcomed us, was grateful, and said, 'I don't know what to say to you but thank you.'"

"I said, 'That's enough.'"

Hackett said that while he and his wife still grieve for their daughter, they have tried to move forward.

"How would I be honoring Avery's memory if I was to ball up or crawl in a hole?" he said. "Avery wasn't like that at all."

Reminded of the Biblical story of Job, who lost his entire family, Hackett said, "The Lord still blessed Job many times over what he originally had. Things can always get better and they will get better. You just have to have faith and keep going forward."

Hackett said he and his wife have chosen to make God the center point of their lives. In turn,they have been able to stay strong together.

"By making Him the center, we don't take the selfish route," he said. "We lean on Him and He gives us the strength and the courage, one for the other."

What could have polarized or even split up the couple - the loss of their beloved only child - has instead drawn them closer, he said.

"Neither one of us has had a bad day the same day," he said. "When I've had a bad day, I have been able to lean on her, and when she's had a bad day, she's been able to lean on me."

He said he is trusting there is a greater plan, even though he admittedly doesn't know what that is yet.

"I may not understand it right now, but one day I will find out," he said.

Soon after Avery's death, Mrs. Hackett learned she was pregnant again. The Hackett's first thought it would be a boy, but learned recently they would be having another daughter.

Mrs. Hackett said they will name the baby Abigail Victoria and call her Abby.

The couple also decided to move into a new home, prompted by all the memories shared with Avery.

"It was kind of hard to live in that house and try to put the pieces back together and move forward," Hackett said, recalling how Avery had helped her parents with painting projects and yardwork. "I feel like we needed a fresh start. We both needed to do that."

Avery's presence remains despite the change in address, Hackett said. Her parents have created a little spot in her memory near the bedrooms .

"Gena calls it Avery's shrine," Hackett said. It features a small table with a statue of an angel, a picture of Avery, flowers, and a family picture.

On Saturday, the couple held a house blessing, with their pastor, Rev. Ferrell Hardison of Whitley Pentecostal Church, in attendance. The purpose was to pray over the couple as they stand on the threshold of the next chapter in their lives.

"God has blessed us with a new house where we can start our new addition to our family and move forward in that way," Hackett said.