Inspiration and uplifting of the soul can come in the most unexpected places and at the most unforeseen times. Certainly in the past, there have been times when grief was manifesting itself in stronger ways and I could feel the icy grip of despair beginning to squeeze what little joy in life remained to me. During these times more often than not, I received some sign that a greater message, a greater power was at play … an email from a parent thanking me for help, a person previously unknown contacting me and stating that Morgan’s story inspired them to keep trying.
These times occurred during my greatest moments of doubt and despair.
Then, last Friday afternoon happened.
The day had not been particularly emotionally taxing. Whole Foods beckoned and a promise of fresh seafood on the grill was calling. Wild caught sockeye salmon was on sale under a Prime Membership for $9.99 a pound. Golden beets, properly seasoned would be a great compliment. A more robust pinot noir would accent the complex flavors. And so, I proceeded to the 15 items or fewer line. After a brief wait behind other shoppers, the middle of three cashiers lifted her arm, looked at me and said “next.”
I did not know at the time, and could not know, that life and the unknown undercurrents of soulfulness that give such incredible richness to life awaited.
The young cashier, probably in her mid 20s, began to scan the merchandise. She then looked up at me and quietly asked, “Are you Steven Dunn, Morgan’s dad?” I imagine my face went blank for just a second, and I stuttered out a “Uh, yes I am. How … ?” She said, “I was in treatment with Morgan.” When I asked where that took place, she said it was Children’s Hospital. (Morgan’s first treatment facility). I remarked that that had happened quite some time ago and asked how she was getting by. She said that she was really improved and feeling better than she ever had. She relayed that she was getting occasional outpatient treatment at ERC Dallas and we briefly talked about Dr. Stephanie Setliff, Tyler Wooten and the Dallas treatment team with whom she was engaged.
She stated that Morgan had really inspired her. I told her that Morgan continues to inspire me every day, that I try to write and honor her message and that if she ever needed anything, to contact me. Tears began to come to her … to us both.
And that is when she captured my heart. She looked down for a second, and then looking up through tear filled eyes, she quietly said, “I was at Morgan’s funeral. I remember it. It was there that I truly understood how serious this was, and I dedicated my life to getting better … Mr. Dunn, I think Morgan saved my life.”
I reached out and held both of her hands, tears coming down my cheeks and reminded her that I would be there for her. As I slowly left the store and sat in the car, looking up at the hot Texas sky, whether I knew it or not, salvation of the soul had again been delivered to me.
And for a brief moment, I rejoiced knowing that there was one more life saved. One more monument, a testament to those whose bodies may no longer be with us, but whose strength of will, courage and spirit continue to inspire and lift us each day.