Today marks the four-year anniversary of the death of my coach and friend, Laura Tebo. Often, the thought of death brings sadness; however, today I am overwhelmed with gratitude- gratitude for the fact that I was lucky enough to know Laura. Timing is everything. This world has existed for some billions of years, and I had the great fortune of crossing paths with her. While the quantity of our time was short, we filled it with great quality. The pain of her loss is immense, but it does not outweigh the ways she changed my life for the better. In our short time together, she taught me more about life and myself than I could learn from any book or any collection of people over any large amount of time.
With that being said, I must admit I’ve never felt more alone and betrayed than I felt at 3:33 p.m. on Sunday 1 February 2015. On that day, when my coach, Laura Tebo, left this earth, a chapter in my life was closed with a dreadful, petrifying, and cruel period. I lost my coach, mentor, inspiration, and best friend all in one day. Whenever I needed advice on a difficult situation or just needed a good, long laugh I would instantly talk to Laura. Finding a person who I can trust wholeheartedly in this world is rare, and I lost my person to the heartless grip of terminal cancer. Laura had cancer for many years and I had to watch her fight a heroic battle against it. Watching someone I loved dearly feel ugly and broken, when all I saw was a beautifully strong woman, was the hardest part of my life.
Towards the end, I watched her time slowly tick away. Time she once spent coaching her kids or riding her horses was now spent in a hospital bed that was conveniently moved to her home. 43 years. She is the best person I have ever met and she only got 43 years. What, then, can be used to measure the success of a lifetime? I would argue based on experience that it is the impact of your years that measures your greatness. Laura may not have had a broad impact on the world, but she certainly had a deep impact on her family and friends. I carry so many of Laura’s life lessons that can never be replaced. This woman, who I was lucky enough to call my mentor and friend, taught me to be brave and fight for what you believe in, despite what other people tell you or whatever hardships life may throw at you.
Laura once told me in one of her signature letters that “some times it’s not about the happy ending. Maybe it’s about the story instead.” She was right. Our story did not get the fairytale ending that most people hope for. However, we undoubtedly received an extraordinary tale. To honor my friend, I live each day attempting to portray the qualities she tried to instill in me. I strive to live a life of bravery, strength, and honor. I will never forget my incredible story with Laura Tebo, and it would be a disgrace to lock her up in our chapters that were so few and cut short. So, I’ll let her live on through my actions until my author writes “THE END” on the bottom of my pages.