April 16, 2013
As Devontaye Zackery made his way down the aisle for Senior Lead out at the very first CHSCC Prom with his 2 year- old daughter Samantha as his escort, the crowd erupted in applause, cheers, and finally a standing ovation. Some who didn’t know Devontaye’s story just thought it was a cute thing to do. For others who did, there were tears in their eyes and a smile on their face.
On October 23, 2012, Devontaye lost the love of his life, Terri Jo Brown at the very young age of just 18, very suddenly when a blood clot traveled to her lungs. Terri was taken to the hospital, but further testing revealed her to be brain dead. She was removed from life support on October 26, leaving behind a very stricken fiancé and 2 year old twins, Hadden and Samantha.
Devontaye’s love for Terri goes all the way back to the 4th grade, when he admits he had a crush on her for a long time. He would finally get his shot with her at the age of 14. They were inseparable for two years.
Life is unpredictable at times, especially with young love, and at the age of 16, Terri became pregnant with twins. Devontaye was right there for her. He assuring her he would stand beside her every step of the way, and he proved this to be true. Devontaye moved in with Terri and her parents and immediately got a job to help support them, while both continuing to stay in school.
The twins were born on February 15, 2011, healthy and happy. Life was hectic and came with ups and downs, but it was still good. Terri and Devontaye were happy and loved their little family. Until that fateful day when Terri passed, and life changed for Devontaye. They were both still in their Senior year at CHSCC.
This was a very hard time for Devontaye, a time when most teenage guys would have given up and handed the reins over to the parents. But not this young man. He kept working, sometimes pulling a 40-hour work week, on top of being a full-time student. He also joined the National Guard, in which he serves one weekend a month. He is an excellent father, he is there with his children every minute he can be. He takes them to the doctor, stays out with them when they are sick, plays with them, takes them to the park, feeds and diapers them. In this day and time when there are so many absentee fathers, he is like a breath of fresh air. I think he is an exceptional young man and should be commended…
Devontaye and Terri Jo had looked forward to going to their Senior Prom together, but time took that away from them. So, he did the next best thing and took the other love of his life, a little piece of Terri, their beautiful daughter, Samantha. Terri must’ve been looking down from Heaven with a smile on her face….
Most of the time, our lives don’t go exactly as we planned.. Sometimes the paths we have chosen take on a whole new direction that lands us in unfamiliar territory, and we are forced to make a new plan. It doesn’t always mean this is the wrong direction, it just means you have to choose the one that is going to make you happy. For Terri and Devontaye, it meant they had enough faith in their love to know everything would be alright in the long run. There’s a saying “Life is not about weathering the storms, it’s about learning to dance in the rain”. I’m sure Devontaye and Terri Jo never thought they would be parents at the age of 16 either, but they loved each other and wanted to raise their children in a loving environment, so they followed their hearts and did just that.
I always smile when I hear someone tell another “I could never be as strong as you”. Well, let me tell the secret behind the smile…
Strong people don’t just happen. They weren’t born that way either. They have just simply made the choice to make the best of what God gave them and that means taking the good with the bad.
Life is not always about laughter, fun and good times. It also includes heartaches, loss, and hardships at times. But that is what it makes it an entire package. God never told us it would be easy, and that is when you have to dig down deep and find strength to carry on. Not all of us make this choice. Some crumble under the pressure. Therefore, there are others that have to step up and take control of the situation, and not always by choice. Sometimes it is just because they are the last ones left standing.
It doesn’t mean these people are void of feeling either. Strong people hurt just as bad as others do. But you may have to peel at the layers sometimes to find this out.
So, the next time you see a “strong person”, let them know how much you appreciate them…It will mean more than you ever know.