This time of year is always very painful for our Legal Insurrection family.

Three years ago our beloved writer and Editor-to-be Mandy Nagy (aka Liberty Chick) suffered a catastrophic stroke in her mid-40s.

Readers may recall that before joining Legal Insurrection, Mandy had been Andrew Breitbart’s key researcher and a writer for Breitbart News.

But Mandy was so much more than a writer and editor. She was a key part of the movement.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then take a look at our 2013 post about the death of Parker “Chip” Gerdes, and Mandy’s memory of him:

There are so many great stories I could tell about Chip Gerdes, but not many I could tell publicly.  It’s true that he was a behind-the-scenes guy.  He was always getting his fingers into something, but always doing so with humor and a light-hearted spirit.

I first met Chip several years ago, when he decided to come out to the East Coast for one of the big labor union marches in NYC.  I’d already been planning on attending to cover it as a blogger.  But as Chip was wont to do, he preferred to make covering the event a little more fun.  I won’t go into all the details (there were no dirty tricks, though) – I’ll only say that it involved waving a Gadsen flag as parade marchers passed by.

The ensuing discussions from the crowd were remarkably civil and equally fascinating and enlightening.  I joined Chip in a discussion with a real-life communist academic who tried in earnest to convince us that the world be a much better place – if only the US would just submit to communism, it would work.  Really, it would.

Last year when our dear friend Andrew Breitbart passed away, I was in Chicago at the time.  I’ll never forget the early morning phone call I received from Chip.  “I don’t want to be alone today,” he said.  “Please come be with me.  Let’s get the gang together.”  And that we did.

I recall spending that entire day and evening with Chip and several of our other friends, sharing stories about Andrew and trying to keep ourselves distracted.  It was one of the most painful days of my life, yet oddly, also one of the most enjoyable.  We were surrounded by friends and love, and I often reflect on that day and wonder how I would have gotten through it without Chip and our friends there.

But that was Chip.  On the one hand, he was a jokester and a loud, boisterous personality – to the point that you sometimes wanted to shake him.  Yet at the same time, he was a big teddy bear that would engulf you in a hug when you needed it most.  He was a friend that I am thankful to have had in my life, albeit for far too short a time.

Chip’s passing has reminded me of one very important thing:  keep the ones you love in life close to you and remember to tell them how important they are to you.  You never know if you’ll have that chance to do so tomorrow.

Rest in peace, happy warrior.

Mandy’s first post for us was March 21, 2013, and her last post was September 4, 2014, a Thursday. The following Monday, September 8, Mandy was to take over as Editor of Legal Insurrection, joining us full time to run the show. Mandy would have been the first person in that position, a signal of the confidence I had in her abilities and trustworthiness.

But it was not to be. On Sunday, September 7, 2014, I received an email from Mandy’s mother asking me to call her and letting me know that on Saturday, September 6, Mandy had suffered a massive stroke and had undergone surgery.

With Mandy’s mother’s permission, I posted about the situation, Pray for Mandy Nagy. At that post you can track the outpouring of affection for Mandy as well as a chronicle of her condition and frequent updates from her mother.

We promised to keep Mandy’s seat warm for her to return whenever she could and in whatever capacity she could:

We’re praying for Mandy, and keeping her seat at Legal Insurrection warm awaiting her return, however long it takes.

When Mandy was in the hospital immediately after the stroke, I visited her and had a chance to meet Mandy’s Mom Ginny and her step-father Victor. They are wonderful people who have had to deal with a difficult situation.

But one year after her stroke, it was obvious that was never going to happen. My post, Mandy Nagy – One year later, conveyed a message from Mandy’s mother, which read in part:

In the first few months she went from being unconscious to opening her eyes every now and then. She was missing the left side of her skull for four months, was deaf and blind on her right side and had a feeding tube for several months. She was bedridden for two months.

After about six months of rehab she has recovered enough to walk small distances by herself with a cane but no other assistance. She is still paralyzed partially on her right side. She has no use of her right arm, but her right leg is functioning enough to walk a little. She spends much of the day in a wheelchair. She seems to be able to hear and see again on her right side. Her speech has improved slightly. She can say a few words and I am teaching her to speak in sentences.

I have tried to get her interested in using the internet and email again, but have been unsuccessful.

She is very slowly learning to do simple everyday tasks on her own. Over the year she has had to learn how to do things we learn as children such as using utensils to eat or brush teeth.

I have to read print to her since she says she only recognizes and knows the meaning of some words. However, she understands most of what I am saying to her. She has started to do things without my telling her to do them such as letting the dogs out the door. Months ago she wouldn’t have thought about taking the initiative to do that.

Her recovery continues to be a long, slow difficult process. Her life has changed and she seems to have accepted that. I believe it would be safe enough and she is now ready to live more independently in her own home. I am working on finding her a place to live and making arrangements for someone to take over my duties. I knew when she came here to live with me that it was going to be life changing for her, my husband and me.

Mandy, Victor and I are very grateful to all of the people who have donated and sent good wishes over the past year. It’s incredible to me that she knows so many people that care.

Last year I received another update from Mandy’s mom, Update: Mandy Nagy two years later:

Mandy still needs help with everything: bathing, dressing, walking, cooking,  etc. She can only speak and read a few words.  She mainly identifies things by pictures.  She wears a brace on her right leg and needs spotting while walking short distances.  Her right arm is paralyzed and her right leg is partially paralyzed. She is very disabled.  I do my best to take care of her needs.  She seems content and not depressed.

I recently reached out to Mandy’s mom again, and received another update:

It’s been three years and a very challenging time for Mandy, Victor and me. Her situation, for now, is stable.

Her condition has stayed the same for the past year. She can walk very slowly for short distances with a cane. She has no use of her right arm and very little of her right leg. She needs assistance everyday with bathing, dressing, cleaning and meal preparation.

She cannot form words except for no, hi, okay and a few other words. She can’t read and doesn’t understand things she should.

People she should know, she doesn’t unless I show her a picture of them. She doesn’t understand instructions. I gave her a brush to use in the shower and she didn’t know what it was or what to do with it. Even after I showed her how to use it, she just stared at it confused.

So, this is where we are. It is a sad situation but she is comfortable and hopefully content. It’s not a very good life, but it is life.

My message back to Mandy’s Mom:

Thank you for the update. I guess things could be worse, as least she’s stable. If she remembers me or is able to remember something about the website, please send her our love.