A year after Backroad Anthem frontman Craig Strickland was found dead, his wife Helen Strickland is sharing the last texts the two exchanged.
The 29-year-old country singer and his friend Chase Morland were reported missing on Dec. 27, 2015 after disappearing during a duck hunting trip in Kay County, Oklahoma. Their boat capsized due to winter storm Goliath, a search party discovered Morland’s body on Dec. 28 while Craig was discovered on Jan. 4. His beloved black lab Sam, who was also on the trip, survived.
Looking back, Helen called the day Craig was found “a blessing.”
“It was truly such a blessing the day we found Craig,” the 27-year-old former Miss Arkansas wrote on Instagram. “We were finally able to find some kind of peace knowing he was with his Heavenly Father. God showed us then, and continues to show us, that He takes care of his children. While the pain is great that we carry, our Lord will carry the burden if we choose to let Him.”
She shared a screengrab of their one of their final text messages together — in which Craig told his wife how precious she looked in a photo snapped of her cuddling their cat, sleeping.
“I remember receiving these last texts from him before talking for the last time on the phone,” Helen wrote. “I’m so thankful God gave me the blessing of getting to say and hear the words ‘I love you’ to/from him just moments before he and Chase got in their 10ft flat bottom boat.”
Helen thanked God for helping her through the tragedy.
“A year later, I can testify to God’s goodness and the gift of love that He pours out to those in pain. Sometimes His gifts of love aren’t what we want or expect — for example, our savior Jesus Christ coming as a baby. But in the end, God’s way is always better than what we want for ourselves. God is good, and His ways are perfect — I trust that,” she wrote.
She also spoke about life lessons she’s learned from Craig’s father, Randy Strickland.
“Losing Craig was not what any of us desired; but as [Randy] told me — when we get sad, we can think of all the ways God will bless others through Craig’s story,” she explained. “What a wonderful and humbling reminder that God has chosen Craig’s family to help others.”
“At the closing of this year, I am thankful for God’s gift of life,” Helen concluded. “And one day, I will be so excited to sit with Craig and our Father in heaven, as we tell Craig about all the opportunities his family had to share the love of Christ with hurting people all over the world because of his testimony. What a gift of love that will be.”
A foundation has been set up in Craig Strickland’s honor. Fans of Craig can donate to scholarships in his name. For more information, visit craigstricklandfoundation.org.