What is the meaning of Life?
Is the meaning of Life found in another or within ourselves? How do we know when our purpose is served?
Do we get to know while we are here? Or do we find out after?
Is there an after?
These questions have swirled around clouding the heads of humans for millennia. I am certainly not about to claim that I have the answers. However, I am of an age where I have lost a lot of loved ones to the “after”, a long list of family members, friends, parents of friends, former friends, acquaintances and neighbors. I know what I believe the answers to be. I know what I hope the answers are. Yet no one that is still here can say with absolute certainty.
We can only hope. We can hope that there is a purpose. We can hope that our lives have meaning. We can hope that some small measure of good has come from our time on Earth. But most of us will probably never really know, at least not while we are here.
But what if we did?
What if we got a message with perfect clarity showing that our life had meaning, would we even believe it? If we were told that our life had served a purpose larger than ourselves would we agree? Or would the embarrassment of adulation stop us from embracing the singular beauty of our own life?
What if a minuscule action of little thought turned out to be a humongous miracle? What if we knew, would we believe it then?
I am going to go out on a limb and say, nope. Most of us would not.
My neighbor Teri, like most of us, would not. She would not believe that her life served an amazing and miraculous purpose. If you asked her, she would probably scoff, tossing her short salt and pepper haired head back and say, quite loudly, “yeah right” and then she would offer you a treat. A lover of dogs and candy, she would hand out treats to any one who stopped by, bones for the four-legged ones or sugary sweets for the two-legged ones. A bartender, a fan of the Carolina Panthers, a good friend and great neighbor, Theresa Casey would not have believed that she was an Angel on Earth before she departed to be an Angel in Heaven. But I know the truth. I know because she saved my son’s life.
Most of you know about my sons near death. (If not you can read some here.) However, not many know that Teri is the reason he is alive. No, she didn’t perform CPR or any other crazy amazing medical feats. (If you had known her or had ever seen her in even the remotest of emergency situations this idea is quite funny.) No, her actions that day were not heroic, at least not on the surface, she was just being a good friend and a great neighbor. The day Ethan attempted to leave us, Teri was at home. She was dog-sitting our little Silkie Terrier, Dutch, while we flea bombed our house, just before she left for work. We had already discussed the time she would leave, and how I would retrieve our pup from her apartment. We had keys to each others places and I knew that she had to be at work before I would return home. It was discussed, it was all planned. Only she didn’t stick to the plan and it saved his life.
She performed a minuscule action of little thought that turned out to be a humongous miracle. She simply called me to tell me the windows were open. The windows I knew I had closed, the windows that were not open when I left. The windows that I told him to open when he got home, if he got home before us. The windows that were open much too soon. The windows that let me know via a simple phone call that something was definitely not right. Teri left for work before I got back home. Before I found him. The ensuing weeks and months were a blur, the aftermath of that day gets jumbled sometimes in my memory but never will I ever forget that she called me, when she didn’t have to, when there was no reason to, she took 3 minutes out of her life to make a phone call that saved my sons life.
If she hadn’t called, I wouldn’t have come home in time.
If she hadn’t called, I wouldn’t have found him still breathing.
If she hadn’t called, he would be gone.
A lot has changed since that day. Nearly four years have passed. Ethan has gotten stronger, Teri got sick. Ethan came out of the hospital, Teri went in. Ethan learned that he would live, Teri discovered that often times life is much shorter than anyone can anticipate. Far too short for her, far too short for the friends she left behind.
I always knew I would write about her, about her minuscule action of little thought that turned out to be a humongous miracle. When Teri passed I wasn’t sure where to start or how to convey how beautiful soul she was or what a profound impact she has had on me and my family. As I lover of words I turned to them to find a reason. A purpose. The meaning of Life. I found this quote and it summed it up (almost) perfectly. (I changed a noun, my apologies to Mr. Kerouac)
“I hope it is true that a woman can die and yet not only live in others but give them life, and not only life, but that great consciousness of life.” – Jack Kerouac
Thank you Teri for giving my son his life and not only life but a profoundly deeper understanding of life.
Thank you for Dutch’s treats and Ollie’s gummy bears.
Thank you for the decade of laughter.
Thank you for being a good friend and a great neighbor.
Thank you Teri. You are deeply loved and sorely missed.