Plaque stirs deep-set feelings of love, pride toward father

Losing someone you love alters your life forever.

Most soon learn the pain never truly goes away, but does ease with time.

Many times, people never quite know what to say or do.

They watch you fall into a whirlwind of emotions.

Your lungs start to constrict only fueling the undying determination of your tears to fall. Possibly, the most overwhelming feeling you could ever have.

Maegan Mitchell, Staff Writer
Maegan Mitchell, Staff Writer

Earlier this semester, I relived these feelings that have consumed me for most of my life.

In 2001, at just 9 years old, my father was killed in an explosion on a Halliburton wellsite near Buffalo.

After almost 30 years accident free, his good safety record was gone.

After the accident, Halliburton displayed a plaque in the Kilgore safety classroom with bronze faces of those who died: my father (Jimmy Miley) and Patric Pritchard.

At such a young age, I didn’t quite understand its meaning. I soon learned the magnitude of this gesture and was determined to see the plaque no matter what it took.

Several years passed before I was able to see the plaque.

Finally, this past January, I was allowed in.  My prayers had been answered.

As I pulled into the parking lot, turning off my ignition, I took a deep breath to calm my nerves.

Plaque_MaeganMitchellI walked to the front door, I welcomed the cold breeze as it was, in a way, a wake-up call that this was finally happening.

The secretary had been expecting me. I obediently signed the guestbook and took a visitor’s pass on the way to my seat in the empty waiting room.

My nervous feelings subdued to excitement. Imagine a 20-year-old sitting in a chair dangling her feet like a small child would in an oversized chair.

Suddenly, the glass door leading to the offices opened and a man with an outstretched hand stepped through the threshold.

After a brief introduction, he guided me through the winding halls and began up a flight of stairs as I followed a few steps behind his broad strides.

He held open a large door and I entered what appeared to be a classroom.

I watched as the man made his way across the room filled with neatly lined chairs and an empty chalkboard.

I slowly walked where he stopped to gaze at the plaque. Again, my heart began to pound in my chest, but this time it was different. It was no longer a suffocating pain, but instead a sense of pride. My dad’s accident would help educate Halliburton employees on how to prevent senseless deaths from happening again.

As I began to read the golden letters perfectly placed on the black metal, tears began to stream down my cheeks as they marked their descent with glistening lines.

My father’s face was crafted in the exact way I remembered every detail.

Many feelings resurfaced that day standing in front of the plaque, and after 12 long years I finally felt closure.

This traumatic event led me to question God’s timing, but I have learned it played a huge part in molding me into the person I  am.

After many years, my faith has been restored and with each passing day, putting one foot in front of the other becomes less of a routine.

I would give anything to have my father back, but this daddy’s girl is grateful to know she has such a courageous guardian angel watching over her.

Maegan Mitchell is a sophomore communications major from Longview.