On Oct. 20th, 2010 my brother was killed because he was texting and driving. I have now dedicated my life to spreading the message to put a stop to so many losing their lives to something that can be easily prevented. My family and I want to keep your family from feeling the pain we feel, every single day.
Here is Taylor’s story in my words…I’m not a professional writer I have no experience, but I believe my story, Taylor’s story should be told.
October 20, 2010 it’s almost 5:00 in the afternoon and my phone rings. I notice it’s my daddy calling me and I think that’s strange because he should be headed back into work, I answer and he’s crying. He tells me Taylor, my little brother, has been in a bad car accident and someone is dead. My brain goes in complete overload, no thoughts were able to form, no emotion could get through because they were all fighting their way to the surface. He promises to call me as soon as possible to tell me if my brother is going to be okay. I’m over 2 hours away and feel completely helpless. I start throwing stuff in a bag, I can’t get my brain to make sense of anything, I stop and lose my mind, what if he really is dead? No, that couldn’t be possible, he’s just hurt, he’ll be okay… I call my best friend, Katie to tell her and she tells me to stay calm, but she isn’t even calm herself. My husband, Zack, grabs me and pulls me close. I take in a deep breath and say a silent prayer.
I can’t stand sitting and waiting any longer so I try calling my mom, she answers and tells me she can’t talk because Taylor has been in a bad accident, she doesn’t hang up the phone, I can hear her running. I listen for a minute and then hang up the phone, my heart knows more than I do at this point. We get in the car and begin to make our way, halfway out-of-town my phone rings, it’s my mama. “He’s gone…” That’s all she said, I remember saying, “Are you sure, mama? Are you sure? I don’t believe it! Mama, I don’t believe it!” I hang up the phone and there are no words to describe when your world falls apart. I remember crying and screaming, “No, not my little brother. I don’t believe it.” Then the numbness sank in and I just sat there feeling like I was floating above the world and experiencing this in some distant place. I remember thinking the saddest part was those who didn’t know him, didn’t care. Hell, if my mama wouldn’t have called I would have found out through Facebook from people who didn’t even know what my brother looked like. It was disgusting, it was on Facebook before my family could even leave the hospital. People have no respect. Later, also on Facebook, people were posting pictures of his truck, saying he committed suicide, it was all so pathetic and shameful. Everyone knows everything, don’t they?
When we finally made it to my parents, there were people everywhere, all I could think was, I had to get to my mama. She was standing in the living room surrounded by people, but I just grabbed her and we cried and cried. I remember saying, “What do we do now?” I felt so lost, still do. His pictures were hanging on the walls, my mama was wearing his class ring, she twirled it on her finger all night. I felt like I was floating through a nightmare. The next day we sat there and discussed his funeral arrangements, I can’t believe it…we sat there and planned my baby brother’s funeral…there were caskets in the room beside us, I had to pick out my brother’s casket and the shirt he would have to wear. I remember going to Dillard’s and picking him out a blue Polo long-sleeve shirt (his arms had to be covered, we were told) and when the cashier said, “Have a nice day,” I wanted to punch him in the face. They told us they would bathe him and treat him as their own at the funeral home. What? I don’t understand. All I could think, is this a joke? The whole time my brother was in a room we couldn’t go in, he was alone, that’s all I could think.
I sat and had to type a note for my brother for his pamphlet that night, a final goodbye to my brother. I hadn’t seen him and a part of me still didn’t believe any of it. I was just going with the motions as I was told. The day of visitation we got a phone call that they had Taylor ready, ready for what? It still hadn’t sunk in. They had him in a little room just for the family to come in, that’s when it hit me like a ton of bricks. The door opened and the first thing I saw was the top of his face and that blue Polo shirt, my heart shattered. He looked just like he was asleep, there were cuts on his head, and a bruise on his cheek but he looked just like my little brother only pale and lifeless. I remember thinking the blue shirt looked so good on him, I knew he’d like it. I finally reached out and touched him, the coldness made me jerk back at first, but I realized he’s my baby brother and this is my last goodbye until we meet again. I had to touch him one last time. I held his hands, rubbed his chest, and smoothed out his shirt. We weren’t allowed to touch his face, but I ran my hand over his hair. I would have stayed there all night with him, I wanted to stay with him as long as possible. I didn’t want to leave him alone, I’m his big sister. I had to protect him.
During visitation, I stood close as possible to him. I didn’t want anyone to touch him. I remember so many people claimed to love him so much, so many cried like babies, they all thought they knew him so well. No one knew my baby brother like I did. I got so angry thinking, “You don’t know anything about my brother. Who are you?” No one knew he loved hotels (we checked out every vending machine), no one knew he had his tonsils taken out and was sick for days, no one knew he loved dancing and singing, no one knew he watched My Dog Skip religiously, or that when he got excited he talked fast. These people knew so little and acted so foolish. Those people are no longer even heard of, imagine that?
The day of the funeral I read him my note, my voice shook, but I promised myself I’d be strong for him. I had to. There was a slideshow of photos with a song, “From Where You Are,” by Lifehouse me and mama put together (Taylor loved Lifehouse) and it showed our whole childhood. I’ve never hurt so much as I did at that moment, I wanted to run up him and shake him, scream “Please! Taylor, wake up!!” We rode to the cemetery and I was asked to lock my brother’s casket, I was the person that finalized our goodbye. That was it, I wasn’t going to see him again on earth. No more new memories to be made, the devastation can be paralyzing sometimes.
Mama searched for reasons why he had wrecked, he ran off the road in perfect weather and hit a tree head-on going at least 60 mph. Why? She finally found the courage to search his phone records (his phone was warped in the wreck, but since had been fixed) and she found her answer, he sent his last text at 4:36pm and his wreck was around 4:37pm. A senseless text message led me to preparing and burying my brother. A text message took my brother’s life. He never knew it was coming, he never hit the brakes. It happened within seconds. His life was lost within a minute. I’ve dedicated my life to urging people to not text and drive. If I can save just one life, I can find some sort of peace of mind. Every day I wish I could trade places with him, some may not understand that, but if you feel the way I do you would understand completely. I was always prepared to die for him if I ever had to. I would have without a second thought. I just wish I was given that option. I’ll spend my life talking about my brother, honoring him, and spreading the message of don’t text and drive. He deserves for his name to always be remembered. I absolutely adored him and always will.
I still get signs from him from time to time. I look forward to each one. Sometimes I just feel him with me, guiding me. I lose my mind sometimes when I’m alone and some days it’s hard to get out of bed, but I do it for him. I see my family has shifted to something a little more empty. I suffer from anxiety issues, but I’m fighting to find my piece of happiness in this world even though so much sadness fills my heart. I realize I’m blessed and remind myself that when I become cynical. I talk about him constantly and I talk to him constantly. I tell the Lord every night to tell him I miss him and I love him and to hug him for me. I’m sorry the world is missing out on such an extraordinary human being, yet I’m glad I got to spend his entire life with him as his big sister. I dreamed the night before his funeral he came to me and we were surrounded by white like I would picture Heaven. He said hey, let me hug him, and took my hand to show me around. I woke up with a sense of peace. He was okay. I can’t wait for that day he walks me through those gates, the day I’ll only cry happy tears.
I hope sharing my story helps some understand, some realize their life is more important than a cell phone, and I just hope that you realize how truly lucky you are to have those you do. Cherish every single second even on the bad days.
Kayla Taylor is from Pine Bluff, AR, born and raised. She graduated from Arkansas Tech University the 21st of this month with her Bachelor of Professional Studies degree in Public Relations. She’s a wife and she is 24. It’s just Kayla, her husband and their fur babies. She loves reading, coffee and traveling. You can follow her on Twitter.