Terry and Julie

September 2, 2002

I just got word that my friend, Terry Moore, died unexpectedly yesterday. When I get home from this trip to Florida, it will be in part to attend his memorial service at the Jehovah Baptist Church in Whitesville, Georgia. Terry was 32. I last saw him a couple of weeks ago.Terry

 I also learned recently that Julie Reynolds, a friend from college days in Athens, had passed away. I saw her only occasionally these past few years, most recently in Athens when I was playing at a surprise birthday party for Chip Milner back in January. Julie was about my age.

I’d like to introduce you to the Terry Moore and Julie Reynolds I knew. They were very different in some ways, and similar in others.

When I met Terry years ago, he was a boy of about 10 or 12. My sister, Linda, was his special education teacher here in Harris County. Terry was cared for by a quiet, shy single mother with various challenges of her own and a mentally handicapped brother.

 He never took a step, and he lived his life between a bed and a wheelchair. He never read a book, never drove a car, never did most of the things that make up a “normal” life. It might be argued that he was a drain on society. It took a lot to care for Terry and neither he nor his family could foot the bill. He could do nothing for himself and spent considerable time in hospitals.

 For as long as I’ve known him, though, despite his handicaps, Terry’s face was the living definition of “smile.”

 He was a big fan of the Dallas Cowboys and the Atlanta Braves. He loved to laugh.

And he loved to sing. When I took his mother and brother to visit with him at the nursing home where he lived, I often took a guitar along. He always asked to sing the same songs: Amazing Grace and Silent Night. He also liked “Jesus loves me.”

On one of my last visits to him, in July of this year, I recorded Terry singing from his nursing home bed. You’ll hear it at the end of the song on this page “Who’s to say they don’t Belong?” You might not recognize it as singing nor think it very musical, but i’ve hardly met anyone whose singing was more a total expression of heart than Terry’s was of his.

julieTerry’s speech was very hard to understand, increasingly so these last few months, but he could easily understand others. He and I talked regularly about heaven. He knew it was a place without the hardships and limitations that he’s known since his birth. He seemed eager to be there someday.

 The nurse who cared for Terry in the hospital the day before his death tells us that he had told her, that day, that he was going to die.

 Julie Reynolds was college educated and very, very bright. She was articulate, loved to talk, wrote interesting letters, read theology, and had no fear of asking very direct questions. I met her years ago when I was a student at the University of Georgia. She was beloved by many and was cared for by her caring mother and father.

 Julie, like Terry, lived between a bed and a wheelchair. She was immobile and unable to get around without help. Last time we were together, she told me that she hated to be a burden to her aging parents.

 Julie loved Christ, spoke of Him always and unashamedly, looked forward to being home with Him, and invited others to know Him.

 As I’ve written before, I don’t know, (none of us does really)  and can’t know what heaven is like. But I am confident that Terry and Julie are free from their chairs, free from the curious unkind stares of strangers, free from the sense of burden that their bodies imposed on them and others, free from all that confined them here. I mourn their departures, but, I must confess, with mixed thoughts. When I first learned of Terry’s death, I immediately thought of Jeannie, his mother. But, I could hardly help thinking, when Terry came to mind, that he had been set free.

Both Terry and Julie looked forward to heaven and I can only imagine what might they say if they could talk to us now. How different must be the world they left behind compared to the one in which they awoke.

 The song, “Who’s to say they don’t Belong?” was actually written years ago for Terry. I’ve recently rewritten it with both him and Julie in mind.

 Just a note. It occurs to me that, on this website, I’ve remembered a number of departed friends – Todd Edwards, Dave Meeks, Tyler, Courtney Farmer. I don’t mean to dwell on those who’ve passed away. But death seems to demand reflection. And, for me, it gives to life a focus, a gravity, that makes the days rich with meaning and purpose. I hope you’ll not mind my sharing these losses with you. After all, in some sense, they are all of ours.

Lyrics

He had a little chair with wobbly wheels

She spent most days just sitting still

But they could smile and take your heart away

Who’s to say they don’t belong?

They both felt the weight of the curious stares

But they felt the touch of hands that cared

In this world that’s to the mighty and the strong

Who’s to say they don’t belong?

And they’d joke, and they’d laugh

and they’d hope and they’d sometimes sing

In the quiet hours, who knows what dreams they dreamed

They’ll wake this time to freedom sweet

To find new shoes and dancing feet

In a world of walking

Graceful, straight and tall

Perhaps it all comes down to this

They were Jesus in our midst

Counting on the kindness of the strong

Who’s to say they don’t belong?

So Julie, take your mat and walk

Terry, clap your hands and talk

The empty chairs declare you’ve made it home

Finally where you most belong

Who’s to say they don’t belong

Terry, Julie, welcome home …

(a live recording, Terry Moore and me at the Brian Center Nursing Home, July 2002.)

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