I had to do some hard stuff today. I had to go to the bank and close out all Taylor's accounts. He had a CD that came due, so I had to take care of that. As I was walking into the bank, I was just praying Please God give me strength to do this, and please don't have them ask a bunch of questions. My name was on all of his accounts along with his----which made it much easier, but still very hard. God was once again very faithful. It all went very smoothly and they did not ask one question----well, that might have been because I looked like at any second I could have busted into tears. Then i had to go make copies of his death certificate and work some more with his financial aid loans. Doing this makes it all so final, yes I realize Taylor's life is over, but it is just so final closing everything out. I just kept thinking, how everytime Taylor wanted to do something and spend money (which was all the time), I would constantly remind him that he really had no money, he would need all his money to pay on his school loans. Now, as I was driving home this afternoon, after closing all his accounts, I felt really, really sad---what am I going to do with his money, the money I would not let him spend because he had to pay off school loans. The sad part is, he did not even like school all that much.
Now, I am going back to the Tuesday after his death. None of us slept very well Monday night. I got up, and noticed that I was starting to feel weak, almost like when you are just getting over a terrible illness. I tried to think, did I eat anything yesterday,I could not remember if I did or not, so thought maybe I better try to eat something today. As I was getting ready in the bathroom, I heard Jeff sobbing downstairs and thought this is going to be another day we will never forget. As I listened, I noticed that he was sobbing harder and harder, so thought maybe I better go down and talk to him. When I got to the bottom of the stairs, I instantly knew why he was sobbing uncontrollably, he had the newspaper opened on the table. I didn't even have to look because i already knew what it was, but I knew I had too. I went over to the table, and there was Taylor's darling senior picture right under the word Obituary. How could that possibly be, my smiling son's face staring back at me in the obituary part of the paper, yes, there was other people in that part too, but they were all in their 70's, 80's. I just stood there staring at his face, and sobbing my eyes out. Again thinking when will this nightmare come to an end---then realized it only began. I thought at least today I would not have to do anything but stay in the house and not make one decisions. I went down to check my e-mail, when I saw Brooke was up half of the night writing a tribute for Taylor. As I read through it, I thought she had described Taylor exactly as he was. It was so sad, but it also made me smile. I knew at that point, I did not know who it was going to be, but somebody was going to need to read this. I knew for Brooke and probably for all of us, it was a small point of closure. Karen came over in the morning. She was a great help. She would get the names of all the people that would bring food, or just be stopping by---someday, I may want to go back and see who all came and brought food. She would organize the kitchen, freeze food that we were not going to be eating and set out food that needed to eaten. Diane, Max, Keith, Autum, Mark, April, Amber and Matt all came over, some were here all day, some came and went because of their kids. It was great to have family so close by at such a terrible time. I talked to mom and she said Dad is going to try to come for the funeral. Dad has alot of health problems, in fact the last time he was here which was five years ago, he spent the whole week in the hospital. So, yes, we wanted him to come, but just wondered what will that all entail, hopefully he does not end up in the hospital again. We all prayed really hard that God would give him health and strength. God answered our prayers, Dad made the trip out fine, he got along great all the while he was here. He even went to the cemetery. Bill and Dawn are on their honeymoon, Warren has to tell them (ya, we make Warren do the hard things like tell everybody). So, now they are planning on coming too for the viewing. This will be the first time in a very long time that my whole family will all be together, but oh did it have to be at such a high price. It was amazing, God even answered the small prayers being said. Karen said she was praying that somebody would bring lunch---I guess she froze all the food---and here comes Pat and Rich Steiner with a big roaster full of food right at lunch time. Then for supper, she is again praying for dinner----she was probably the only one praying for food, because all the rest of us had bigger things on our minds than food, but thankfully God hears each and every prayer----at dinner here comes Martha Walder with a big casserole of beef and noodles. We had Taylor's wallet and phone just laying there in the living room by some of his other stuff. We noticed that day, as other days, kids kept calling his phone. We would look to see who it was, but figured out they just wanted to hear his voice message---that just made me cry---we are hurting, but so are his friends. His friends were coming all day---I think I hugged some of them three and four times. Craig Wellert called and wanted to know if he could bring over a bunch of Taylor's ag friends---I think there were probably 15 kids that came that evening. We just sat around and they would tell stories of Taylor. It was so bittersweet. I loved to hear the stories, and yes they were all the "crazy" things that Taylor had done----you could not help by laugh, but there was such an ache in my heart----Taylor should have been sitting on one of those chairs acting his "silly" self, but his chair was empty. I did notice though that Mr. Wellert really had a love in his heart for each of these kids, he wanted all of them to know Jesus. And you could also see the kids had a great respect for him and loved him as well. Even though, I did not know all Taylor's friends, I could see he did have a nice bunch of friends. The kid that was on the back of Taylor's 4 wheeler with him, sat very quietly and never said a word and looked very sad. I had to give him a big hug, in fact I think I hugged all of them as they left. Like I said that was bittersweet, but am glad they came. We pretty much just sat around here all day and talked about Taylor. i remember Max saying something that has stuck with me----He said we now have to get use to a "new normal", as I found out that is exactly what we are trying to do with every ounce of our strength. It will never be normal again, our family circle is now broken, but slowly day by day and with God's help we will develop a new normal. We will never forget Taylor, in fact, I will think of him every day, and probably many times a day until the day I die I am quite sure of that, but our family circle here on earth is now a "new normal". Jeff every day had to get out of the house, so he would run little errands. Everyday on his errands, he would stop at Gillman's to see Taylor---that was too hard for me, but for him it was a comfort. Well, he comes home that day after visiting Gillman's and says he saw Taylor in the casket today. I just looked at him and thought I never want that image of Taylor in my mind to remember, but knew that was not going to be possible. Then he continues to say, he looks really good, just like he is sleeping. I also remembered when i seen him the day before, his hair was combed straight back, thought that was from the wind from riding his 4 wheeler. I just said did they comb Taylor's hair right (he always wore it combed down). Jeff says, it is combed like it was straight back-----I know, why should it matter at a time like this, but I did not want his hair combed like that, so said I want to go see him and have Gillman comb it right. Everybody is here, all Diane's kids and Max and Diane. So, now we are trying to decide if we want the trauma of seeing him in the casket yet that day. We all were getting emotional just thinking about it----it was bad enough to see Taylor on that cold steel stab, but now in a casket, can my body take any more. It definitely was all the people praying for us that kept me from just collapsing on the floor from one emotional moment to the next, because right then, my prayers were pretty much just moaning and groaning. I would find myself just walking around the house and would be moaning----my mind was just trying to comprehend what had happened, but my mind only lets so much in at a time. If my mind let it all in at once, I would have collapse and never got up.-- Side note---They told us at grieve sharing, it takes your mind 6 to 9 months to comprehend the loss, and probably two years to get through the grief. We finally all decide it is probably best if we go into Gillman's that day and get the initial shock of seeing him in the casket over, but I am thinking I will never get over that shock. Gillman's have other deceased people in there, so they put Taylor in the room with the caskets. So we have to go back into that terrible room again. We all go up to the casket to see him, again it is just too much for me to see Taylor laying there. He was so full of life and always with a smile on his face, now he is laying so still in this casket. I can't even remember who was holding me up, I think it might have been Diane and Amber . I do remember touching his arms and face----they were so cold and stiff. Something had been bothering me----before we had left for Illinois I had been "on his back" about this 4 wheeler and how much I hated it and how he was going to get hurt. He was outside in the garage washing it when i was talking with him, like he so often was. I will always remember it, he says, Mom, it will be alright, you have to take some risk sometimes. After we talked alittle bit longer, I could feel myself getting really aggravated with him, so I just went into the house. Even as I went into the house, I felt I needed to tell him that no, i did not like that 4 wheeler, but he did do alot of things I did like. I thought I needed to tell him things that are good, not always what I did not like. Brooke was out in the garage too that night, and after I went into the house, she said that Taylor said, Just once, i wish mom would be happy for me in what I am doing with this 4 wheeler. So, after she told me that, i thought for sure I needed to talk with him, but I never got the chance. i was going to do it before we left for Illinois, but time ran out. So, when we were in there at Gillman's, Diane says why don't you just go talk to him and tell him now how you feel. I decided to do that, let me tell you that was one of the hardest things I have ever done, but am very glad I did it. It was so hard to be telling your dead son what you should have told him in life. I wanted him to know how I really felt, I love him with all of my heart, and the only reason I did not want him to have that 4 wheeler, was because I was deathly afraid of this happening. I told him I was so sorry for not getting the chance to tell him all this. I was sobbing so hard, that I am pretty sure that tears and snot were falling all over his chest. I am leaned over the casket, and finally Diane helps me up and we go out into the other room where Diane's kids are. Then we decide to come back in and look at Taylor one last time before we leave. Keith is busy looking at all the caskets in the room--going from one to the next. They all have the lids open, except for this one right behind Taylor. While we are all looking at Taylor, Keith decides to see just why this casket has it's lid closed. Well, Keith got a little surprise, when he peeked in, there was another person in it. He very quietly closed the lid and says to the rest of us in a very calm voice, I don't think we are the only ones in this room. In time of great grief, we did all have to laugh----that is so Keith---he is one to put a smile on your face through your tears. Through all the trauma, I forgot to say, that yes Taylor's hair was combed straight back. I asked Mr. Gillman if that could be changed, because Taylor never wore his hair like that. It made him look much older. Gillman acted like it is too late to change it. He said it would stick straight out if he tried to change it----I will never know why he did not look at the picture I took in there, but he didn't. I did ask Wendy (she cut Taylor's hair and also Spencer's) if it could have been changed, and if she would have done it for me. She said it would have been very hard to do, but yes, she would have done it, and yes it could have been done even though it had gel on it. She said it could have been changed, you just wash it out alittle and redo it. But what is done is done. Cards are starting to arrive. I think we got probably around 50 that day. Jeff loved getting cards, he said he would read every verse on each card. At this time, so early in the tragedy, cards were not that much of a comfort for me, they just seem to be a constant reminder of this terrible tragedy---as time went on, they were more of a comfort. In fact, the ones we got a month or so later were much more of a comfort, because that reminded us people were still thinking and praying for us. Everybody went home fairly early on Tuesday evening, because we all knew the next day was going to be very long and very, very emotional. They told us in our grief sharing class, grieving is like working eight hours of hard labor. I truly believe that---every evening I felt so weary and tired. We all went to bed not saying much. Again before going to bed I had to thank God for the Grace He gave me to even make it through that horrible day and prayed for alot of strength and Grace for the next day.