How does a mother survive after losing her 8-year-old son in a tragic accident? It could be something as simple as a baby blanket.
A Shelby County mother shared with East Texas News what she thinks are more than coincidences which are providing her strength.
Cole DePriest was born to be a cowboy.
Growing up in a rodeo family, the outgoing child learned a true cowboy is expected to behave well in and out of a saddle. His mother, Colette DePriest saw to that.
"Very polite, very respectful, all those characteristics of a little bitty cowboy," Colette said.
The former all round champion for six and under rodeo competition took his last ride April 3, one day after his 8th birthday.
"A horse that he's been riding since he was probably three and was a horse that belonged to my father-in-law just stumbled," Colette said.
The horse rolled on Cole. The child died instantly. Now a family is coping with the sudden loss.
"He was our joy," Colette said.
Colette tells people a series of events is giving her the reassurance she so desperately needs. She learned about the first incident the day after the accident, close family friend said.
"The Lord told me that he didn't want Cole to suffer and be in pain," Colette said. "That he wanted him to be able to live that perfect life."
Just days later, Cole's father, a Tenaha coach, told Colette he had a similar experience.
Then Colette learned of a silicone bracelet, like the one she wears now, that Cole gave away just weeks before he died.
"He told this little boy if anything ever happened to him to make sure his best friend got the bracelet," Colette said with a sigh. "That said, 'Walking with Jesus.'"
Yet perhaps the most remarkable discovery was when Colette found a box in the front seat of her car. The content was overwhelming.
"The blanket inside which was his actual baby blanket, that I didn't even realize we didn't have," Colette said.
The explanation came in a lengthy letter.
"They said they found the blanket at the Goodwill store in Center, the day after Cole's accident. In a Goodwill store where I've never donated," Colette said.
Colette said the blanket could have been burglarized from a storage place used prior to a move and later ended up in Goodwill. However, how this meaningful momento got into a messenger's hands who had pages of reassuring words requires no explanation for Colette.
"It was an angel," Colette said. "This person is an angel.
Colette said her testimony is now a part of Cole's legacy.
Cole will always be missed, but Colette said she'll survive through faith, memories, and the blessings her little cowboy brought to so many lives.
Cole's mother doesn't know who returned the blanket to her. She says it would be nice to meet the person, but she's at peace with how things were left.
A Cole DePriest Scholarship Foundation has been established. Donations can be made through the Cole Depriest gofundme account or mailed directly to the Cole DePriest Scholarship Foundation care of Roland and Dianne Cross, P.O. Box 12, Tenaha, Texas 75974.
If you have a survivors story to share or know of someone who has overcome a life challenge, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.