Baking is good therapy. A few hours in a quiet kitchen can soothe a troubled mind.
It took a lot of baking -- and faith and the love of a good man -- to get Terri Brookshire of Clovis where she is today. She owns Crumb Snatcher Goodies, selling cookies, cupcakes and mini cakes from a new trailer.
But five years ago, she was in her own personal hell. That's when Brookshire's husband of 24 years was killed in an accident that sent a Chevrolet Silverado pickup flying through the air and into their van. Brookshire was severely injured in the accident and nearly had her legs amputated. The months of wheelchair-bound recovery in a home full of memories left her wishing she hadn't survived.
Today, she's the happy-go-lucky woman who serves chocolate chip cookies and milk at the River Park farmers market on Tuesdays. You'd never know the woman who smiles and calls customers "honey," has been through so much.
Brookshire, now 52, has baked for years. As a kid, she did it for her parents' praise. As a stay-at-home mom with four kids under age 11, she baked apple pies to raise money when creditors came calling.
In recent years, she won prizes at The Big Fresno Fair for her chocolate chip cookies, carrot cake and her Grandma Dot's spice cake -- all now sold at the trailer.
She also works as a labor and delivery nurse at Kaiser. Brookshire had always wanted to open a little cookie business on the side, but life got in the way.
She says she was happy with Brad Isaac, her husband, a trauma nurse at Community Regional Medical Center.
"He was the love of my life," she said. "He was my soul mate."
He introduced her to God and she became a born-again Christian, she says.
On trips together, Brookshire liked to ride in the passenger seat with her feet up on the dashboard. Isaac told her not to do it. He had seen patients come into the ER with smashed ankles and legs burned by air bags from sitting that way during accidents.
On May 12, 2007, it happened to the Isaacs.
The couple was heading home to Clovis on Highway 99. They were in Chowchilla when something sent the four-door, extended cab Silverado flying over the median and into their van.
Brookshire had just enough time to say, "They're coming over," when she saw the truck.
Isaac said, "Yeah, they are. Brace yourself, Terri."
They were his last words to her.
Her husband was killed instantly, along with the two occupants of the Silverado. Brookshire survived.
The only reason, she says, was the way she slouched with her feet on the dashboard kept the truck from hitting her head.
Her ankles, however, were nearly destroyed.
At the hospital, she signed the paperwork to have her legs amputated below the knee. But a doctor saw a chance to rescue them and sent her to San Francisco for surgery.
There, surgeons shaped a thigh bone from a cadaver into Brookshire's ankles.
The recovery was brutal. She was stuck in a wheelchair, isolated in the home she had shared with her husband. Every time she looked at the kitchen table, she saw him sitting there.
She baked to make herself feel better. She put layers of towels on her lap so she could set hot pans and cookie sheets on them while she wheeled herself to the counter.
"That's what helped me and got me through," she says. "Baking was always my therapy."
But it wasn't enough. She prayed to God to send someone to help her.
One day she needed a ride home from the hospital and in a pinch, her best friend, who is 16 years younger than Brookshire, had her dad pick Brookshire up from an appointment.