It’s been eight days. Just a little over a week. Since we lost her. Since we lost Taylor. A sweet, funny 19-year-old girl so full of life and promise. She was nearing the end of LPN school. Her future was bright. But that light was extinguished. A life long illness that had seemed so benign, an afterthought really, reared its ugly head and she was gone. Slipped through the fingers of her family and friends. Leaving behind confusion, devastation.
I have known Tay (as we all called her) since she was in cheer leading with my daughter in the 7th grade. They became fast and close friends. They cheered together, played volleyball together, cried over boys together, fought over boys together. She was one of us. She was part of our family. She would come into the house, rummage through the fridge before finding us in the living room and flopping on the couch with a ‘Heeeey guys!’ and big smile as she munched on whatever food she found.
I am having a hard time wrapping my head around her death. I hadn’t seen much of her since she and my daughter graduated in 2012. I would see her around and always got a cheerful wave. She was my friend on Facebook so I could keep up with her blooming life. To acknowledge she is gone, is like letting your heart shatter. I can’t seem to manage to accept it. I have so many pictures of her and my daughter on Facebook and on my walls. All of them with her bright smile, that devilish twinkle in her eye.
While she was one of my daughter’s best friends, I had my own special bond with her. She became my second daughter. She was at our house all the time. It was always ‘the girls’. Taking ‘the girls’ somewhere, or ‘the girls want pizza’. She shared with me details of her life she hadn’t even shared with her own mother yet. Because she needed someone who loved her unconditionally to let her know that she was going to be all right. I remember one night in particular, she and my daughter had been at a friend’s house in a hot tub. It was cold out. The girls came home and Taylor came over and knelt beside the couch and put her head on my chest. Her hair was frozen. I asked her what was wrong, and she just shook her head. She just wanted comfort. Comfort over some boy problem. Comfort I was happy to provide.
I could not bring myself to go to the calling hours. My daughter went with a group of friends, for which I am grateful. But I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t see her parents and see their pain and feel it. I was having a hard enough time helping my daughter manage her own grief, how could I manage my own?
Her dad dropped off flowers at our house from the calling hours. Beautiful arrangements. With all colors of purple. Purple was her color.
Summer will be hard. It was when she would post pictures from concerts and bonfires and I would know that even though I wasn’t a part of her everyday life. She was OK. She was living life. No, she was more than just living life, she was getting ready to take the world by storm.
And now. She’s gone. The girl who went to the Yankees game with us and yelled out the outfielders. The girl who camped with us in a cabin with broken hot water. The girl who called me Mom.
In my kitchen I have a doorway, where over the years, I have measured my kids heights. Somewhere along the line, friends would also get their height measured. Taylor’s is there. Marked twice. Just a month ago I was considering painting over those marks. Now, they will stay just as they are forever. A permanent reminder of a girl, with the cowboy boots, who left us all behind.
I won’t propose to understand the greater plan in all this. My mind knows she is no longer in pain, no longer sick. My heart, my heart is just angry. And I don’t even know who to be angry at. God? Doctors? The world? Myself for not keeping in touch?
Fly high, sweet girl. I hope you are at peace.
Just know that I will always miss you.