Christian music star Steven Curtis Chapman said he and his family are "beginning to feel some healing taking place" nearly a year after the sudden death of his 5-year-old daughter Maria Sue last May.
Last weekend, during his first red carpet appearance since the accident, Chapman told People magazine that photos of Maria Sue were starting to draw out "sweet memories" and no longer just tears.
"[W]e've kind of in a place where ... there's this hole in our heart and in our soul. That's going to be there until we see Maria again," he said. "But we're able to, at least I am, to look at pictures and watch videos of her and it's not as suffocating as it was. It's not just where you can't even breathe. It's getting to where I can have sweet memories."
On May 21, 2008, Maria Sue, Chapman's youngest child and one of three adopted from China, was accidentally and fatally struck by a sport utility vehicle in the driveway of the family's Williamson County home in Tennessee. The driver, 17-year-old Will Franklin Chapman, was returning home and did not see his five-year-old sister running toward him to greet him.
The tragedy pulled on the heartstrings of believers across denominations, many of whom were familiar with the popular Christian music star whose songs have become a staple in contemporary worship services and on Christian radio stations nationwide.
The accident also led Chapman to consider the idea of not returning to the stage.
"[A]fter all this went down, we all questioned, are we ever going to go back out on the road? Are we ever going to be able to play music again? Because that's something that just reminds us of joy, and Maria was so much of that joy," recalled Chapman's eldest son, Caleb, last year on "Larry King Live". Caleb Chapman plays back up guitar for his father.
Although Chapman had stopped touring and declined interviews after the May 21 tragedy, he decided later to continue with his U.S. concerts, wanting to go forward and take the opportunity to share his faith, according to manager Jim Houser.
Amid the grieving, Chapman used the stage to share about his family's path toward recovery following Maria's death and also appeared with his family in several televised interviews including "Good Morning America" and "Larry King Live."
Though it was hard for the Chapman family at times, Chapman said everyone managed to share in happy moments this past year, including celebrating daughter Emily's marriage in October and planning for eldest son Caleb's upcoming wedding.
The pain of his daughter's loss has even helped to strengthen his faith, he said.
"There's a lot I can't explain, there's a lot we don't understand," he told People magazine. "But I really do believe we're proving out everything we believe and God's healing our hearts."
On Saturday, Chapman performed "Cinderella" from his latest album This Moment on Fox News' Huckabee show. He was joined last minute by wife Mary Beth, who he later said was "amazing."
"God spoke thru her," Chapman wrote in his personal Twitter page.
Next month, Chapman will team up with Christian music star Michael W. Smith for a second round of dates for their "United Tour" - the historic joint tour they kicked off last fall that reached a cumulative audience of more than 50,000 in 20 major markets.
The upcoming outing currently spans 24 U.S. cities from coast to coast, starting March 28 in Chattanooga, Tenn., and wrapping April 30 in Paducah, Ky. Stops in between include Cleveland; Baltimore; Nashville; Springfield, Mo.; Utica, N.Y.; Norfolk, Va.; Sioux City, Iowa; and four cities across California.