What is a hero?
I would define a hero as someone with the opportunity, the instinct and the will to help others. Maybe it’s the guy that tipped 100% because the waitress looked like she was having a rough day. Maybe it’s the off-duty police officer that jumped in front of a moving train to save a stranger who had fallen onto the tracks. Maybe it’s the mother that starved herself to feed her children.
While I’ve looked up to a variety of people throughout my life, I’ve never really had a hero, per se. Now I have two – one that lives here on earth, and one whose time here was cut short but whose eternal spirit continues to glow. Their names are Denisha and T’neil, mother and daughter. They are the reasons I’m alive, though they would never accept such credit, instead giving all glory to God.
I never had the opportunity to meet T’neil, but I have learned so much about her and know she was a wonderful and beautiful young lady, full of life and loved by so many. She was a 17-year-old rising senior in high school who loved shopping and talking on the phone. She had dreams of joining the Navy, going to college and starting her own business. She had a rare disease that remained undetected until her final days and then took her life quickly. Her strong heart now beats inside of me.
|T'neil, who gave me the gift of life.|
Denisha has other children, one of whom is T’neil’s twin sister. The pain being experienced by this teenager is simply unimaginable and nothing anyone should have to endure. I hope that she shares her mother’s faith and takes comfort in the lives that her sister improved and saved. I’m sure T’neil lives on in her heart just as much as she lives on in mine.
Denisha and her family associate butterflies with T’neil’s continued presence. In the final days of her life, butterflies kept appearing to her family. They also like to burn candles to allow T’neil’s eternal light to glow. Maybe you will light a candle today in T’neil’s honor and say a prayer for her family.
These are true heroes. They were given the unenviable opportunity to help others in a significant way. The instinct to help came automatically and without hesitation. And they acted on those instincts to deliver the ultimate gift to many fortunate people. Because of this heroism, I am alive today. As I told Denisha, because of this heroism, I can use the word “yet” in so many sentences. I haven’t started a family yet. I haven’t written a book yet. I haven’t skied in the Alps yet. Whether she accepts credit for it or not, Denisha gave me a future, and for that I am eternally grateful.
As I think of T’neil, Denisha and their family, Mariah Carey’s “Hero” comes to mind. Some of the lyrics are below.
To my heroes, thank you. I look forward to meeting you soon. In the meantime, lots of love from my heart.