When I met Teri, I met a friend for life. We were both bagging groceries at Publix…I was new at the business of filling paper or plastic but Teri had been doing it for years yet still exuded an enthusiasm for the relatively menial task, an excitement and thankfulness which I quickly lost.
We forged an unlikely friendship that year and because we lived right down the street from each other, I regularly picked Teri up in the car I drove back at 18, a sporty red Honda Civic, and we’d get ice cream, coffee, go to Borders Bookstore or to the local movie theater. Teri always begged to stay the night and so we’d often have a sleep over as well.
I knew Teri was wanting more than just a chance to stay the night. She was reveling in the opportunity to experience a real home; a clean, stable environment where she would be loved and treated with kindness…civility. Where she could be with her adopted mom and dad as she unabashedly calls my parents.
The opportunity to see Teri regularly is one I will always be thankful for. Every outing was laced with a beauty and grace I can not describe. She touched me in her simple, understated faith in God and determination to live with joy despite all odds.
She eagerly drove to First Baptist Atlanta with me on many Sundays and I remember being brought to tears on several occasions as she sang her favorite worship songs at the top of her lungs. “Shout to the North and the South” was one I especially associate with her…
Of our great and glorious king,
He is strong when you feel weak,
In your brokenness complete…
Sing to the East and the West,
Jesus is savior to all,
He’s Lord of heaven and earth!”
Teri has cerebral palsy. People will always look at us when we’re out together because of her obvious physical disabilities. Whether they are looks of mere curiosity or disdain I do not know but one thing is certain: she is a blessing, wherever she treads and I am proud to walk beside such an inspiring individual.
Now, we’re both embarking on the adventures of our lives, although I go with both hands full of earthly love while she goes starving for earthly affection but rich in God’s love. I go to New York and she is moving to a group home in Idaho next year. She sees this as a window of opportunity, a place abounding with possible friendships, surrounded by individuals similar to herself.
Similar, not different. What she’s always been missing.