Thursday, January 9, 2014

Taylor & Shelby

Three years ago today someone I love very much passed away. He was beautiful. He was one of the best people I've ever met in my life and just so beautiful inside and out. His name was Taylor. And while I know that God has a plan and a reason, I know the world is missing a little piece of heaven we had down here to ourselves.

I know that I am blessed to have loved him. To have called him my friend and to have shared the time we did together. When he died my world stopped. And it took me a long time to fix myself after losing him.

I'll never forget the first time I really laughed after he died. I had gone back to College Station for the semester, and to join up with some of our friends to travel to the funeral. I met with two of the boys for breakfast. I met with Murch and Shelby. And I didn't know what to do. I was hurting and I knew they were hurting and I didn't know how to feel or what to think or say. And I had no appetite and everything just seemed wrong.

But those boys. Oh, they taught me that it was okay to laugh again. They made me laugh. And they held my hands and lent me their shoulders at the funeral. They put their arms around me and told me it was going to be okay. They comforted me. And we sang together and we laughed and told stories and I felt happy and I knew that eventually life would get back to normal.

And I love them. I love them so much.

And today I am here thinking about Shelby. Because as amazing a person as Taylor was, I was blessed to have known Taylor and Shelby at the same time. And that was the best kind of amazing, squared. All of us were Communication majors at A&M, taking a lot of the same classes.

I remember my first day of Comm 101. My very first class. I remember seeing Shelby and Taylor sitting together and talking, and thinking that they must be best friends who came to school together. They had just met. But they would go on to become best friends, and it was beautiful.

We all became involved in the same organization, Shelby and I on our own, before Taylor came in at Shelby's request. Eventually we all became officers. And friends. And we loved each other. It was just this wonderful happening. It was ordained by God. I know it in my heart.

Shelby once said that we were different. It was after Taylor died. He told me that we were better equipped to handle it because of our outlooks on life. He said that the three of us were something different. I adore Taylor and Shelby, so much so that I would never dream of putting myself on the same scale of wonderful that they are on, so to be told that I was a part of that made me want to be stronger.

Shelby and I leaned on each other after losing Taylor. We grieved privately and with our closest friends, but out of the group of officers who lost him, we gravitated towards each other. And sometimes it broke my heart. He once told me a very paralyzing truth about a thought he has waking up some mornings. And it was vulnerable. And he said it with such a calm, but in such a way that it cut me to the core. Because I love him so much that I hurt for him. And I embraced his reality in a new way. You see, Shelby is about as well adjusted about death as a person can be - because he's been walking with it for 11 years.

When Shelby was 14, he was diagnosed with nonspecific interstitial pneumonitis. And it's this crazy rare disease that affects his lungs. And he wasn't supposed to live as long as he has but he's doing it. And he has medication that opens up his blood vessels and turns him red. And then sometimes when he can't breathe as well he turns blue. So sometimes he walks around his very own shade of purple. And we would laugh about it. Because it's what has to be done. And because he, like Taylor, is the best of us. So Godly and faith filled, so optimistic and brave, that he sees something that would destroy almost any other person's spirit as a blessing.

And today, on this day when I'm caught up in the pain of losing our dear friend, I am faced with another harsh reality. Shelby has a doctor's appointment on Monday. He's gone almost as far as he can with his medication. He'll be undergoing tests and scans to see whether he will need to be reactivated onto the list for a double lung transplant. And I'm scared. And I know better than to feel scared, but I am. I know that fear is not of God, but I love him so much that the very thought of losing him pushes me first to that emotion. Because I can't lose them both. This world can't.

Shelby was only supposed to live for 2 years after being diagnosed. He and I would have never met. He's have never met Taylor. So much would be different. He once told me that the doctors could maybe keep him going on medicine until he was forty. And I wanted to believe that, so I have. I've believed that he's had 20+ years at least since we've met and that technology and science would make it all better. Because they had to. Because the world needs him. Because he is the best of us.

But I feel so selfish saying that because I don't know if maybe I just need him. I don't know if I just need to know he's around being his wonderful, beautiful self and making the world a better place. Even if I haven't seen him in awhile. Even if I never got to see him again but could just know that he was happy and healthy somewhere making others happy.

I am so torn about what to feel in this situation. I don't want him to suffer, but I can't lose him. And I am praying so hard for answers and good news. But I feel terrible. I don't know what I should be feeling. That vulnerable truth he shared with me makes me wonder. I know this is in God's hands, but there are so many things in my head.

A few weeks after Taylor's death, Shelby and I sat together talking. He told me that when he gets to heaven he's gonna find Taylor sitting on a bench waiting for him. And they'll be together and talk again like they used to, and when Taylor starts to get up,Shelby will tell him not yet. Because they need to wait for me. And they will. And of so many pictures of heaven and promises above, I cling to that image. It's one of the most beautiful and loving things anyone has ever said to me.

I have felt that Shelby would go before me. I've only been so naive about the nature of his illness, though I would not begrudge a miracle its way to him. But I wonder about Taylor up there on that bench. And I think about the weekly lunches and breakfasts that they used to have, the meeting time conversations and classes shared each semester, and all that they have to catch up on from those missed appointments. And I wonder what God thinks about their meeting on a bench.

So I'm just going to pray. Because there is nothing better that can be done. And I'm going to try to sort out my head and my heart and I'm going to try and be that person that Shelby once said he believed me to be. As strong as he and Taylor. Because no matter what I know that's what he needs me to be.


  1. I'm so sorry you've had to go through this, but is glad you've had the opportunity to know both of them. You've painted such a beautiful picture of them.

    Hugs <3

  2. I've always thought Shelby would live forever. I just KNOW he's going to convince someone to give him two lungs. If the list were a campaign instead of a printed list of names, he'd win. He'd be at the top of the list.

    And I guess I just hold out hope for a donor. People like him are exactly why I am an organ donor.

    But also don't forget that mourning those who haven't gone yet takes away the best last memories possible. And we know Shelby is probably laughing it off and will be the rest of his life.

  3. Sorry for you loss and that you're still suffering from it. The fact that you're writing about it helps tremendously. There's no better way, for me at least, to sort those complicated feelings out than to write them out.