Monday, December 29, 2008

Yes...There Truly is a Happily Ever After

Not long ago, I was talking with one of my best friends and she said that sometimes she hates looking at people's blogs because it makes her depressed to see everybody else's "perfect life". Naturally, that is what we as human beings put forth for everyone to see - all the good. We wouldn't want anyone to know that we have problems or that our life is not perfect, that might make us look weak or unsuccessful. The more I thought about it, I realized this was true and that even I was guilty of "putting on a show". I made it my own personal goal to show our life as it is - the good and the bad.

When Sean died I understood the apprehension of showing the world our "not-so-happy" side. Not because I wanted to hide it, but because it hurt. It took me days to actually write about that experience, even though I had it swimming around in my head non stop. Putting those thoughts and feelings out there for everyone to see made me feel vulnerable, everyone would see that we are not always strong and confident, we have struggles that sometimes are so hard make us question our own faith and ability to continue on.

After sharing our experience about Sean I had a hard time continuing to share our life's journey. I couldn't bear the thought of looking at our blog and not seeing his face, like I shouldn't or maybe even couldn't continue. How wrong I was.

I am so fortunate to be blessed with a husband, who during his darkest hour, has the ability to help me recognize and understand all of the amazing miracles that have come from our hardships. He has taken the hard, bad things and has learned from them. Instead of dwelling on the pain, he has taken that energy and found ways to become a better person. He has taught me that life does go on, regardless of our circumstances and it is our responsibility to decide what we are going to do with the situations that are handed to us in this life. He has helped me understand that "Happily Ever After" is not determined by our circumstances, it is determined by our attitude and what we do as a result of our circumstances.

I want my children to look back on this and see that life is full of ups and downs and good or bad we keep on going and somehow we make it through. Most important, I want them to know that they have the ability to create their own "Happily Ever After".

A Tree to Remember

This year we didn't put up a Christmas tree because we were planning on spending Christmas and the New Year in El Paso, TX. We didn't want to take any chances with a dried out tree left in our house for over two weeks while we were gone! We did, however, decorate everything else in the house to help bring in the Christmas spirit!

As we were driving home from El Paso after Sean's funeral my sister, Julie, called me to see how we were doing. As we were talking I realized that Christmas was only a few days away and I started rambling on about how much I still needed to do to get ready. I remember crying to her that I felt so bad because my kids didn't even have a Christmas tree and I had no idea how I would find time and honestly, the motivation, to decorate a tree for them. Little did I know that my wonderful family had already taken this into consideration and I had nothing to worry about.

Two days earlier my youngest sister, Katie, realized I was going to run into this problem (in my opinion, I think she was inspired). She was determined that her nieces and nephews were going to have a tree for Christmas and she was going to make it happen. As a result, my parents, my sisters, their spouses and kids, my brother and his sweet girlfriend had family night at our house and decorated a tree for our family.

When I walked into the house late that Tuesday night all I could see was Mark standing in our kitchen, facing the family room with a look of awe on his face. At first I was worried about what could be wrong, but then I rounded the corner and was greeted by the warm glow of our Christmas tree, or as I like to call it, our Christmas miracle. I know it might seem a small act of kindness, but for our kids who came in screaming with excitement over something I could not provide them with, I like to call it a blessing.

Thank you, Mom and Dad, for raising such amazing children who are always looking out for each other and who have been taught the true meaning of love. I know that it is through your example that small miracles like this happen in our family all the time. Thank you to my brother and sisters and their families for loving us so much and for doing all that you do! My family is truly blessed because of you.

I cannot even count the many blessings and acts of kindness shown to us during this difficult time in our life. Our shoveled walks and driveway, the breakfast and dinner left on our porch, the meals brought in, the phone calls of concern, the listening ear and many, many other responsibilities taken on by others to help make our load lighter. Mark and I would like to express our thanks to all of you, you know who you are and we are grateful for the angels that you have been in our life.

My heart is full of gratitude knowing that God lives and that he watches over us in our times of need. He provides miracles and blessings and most important he fills our hearts with love - not only to those who are in need, but to those who give of themselves and it is my hope and desire that you feel of God's love and ours.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

In Loving Memory of Sean D. Taylor

On December 9, 2008, Mark's brother and best friend tragically passed away. There is no way to describe the heartache and devastation felt by this loss. Although we miss Sean dearly, we know that he is at peace and that brings us great comfort.

There are so many things that we are going to miss about Sean. His unconditional love, his friendship, his great sense of humor and his example. I think one of the things I will miss most is Mark and Sean's daily phone calls. Mark would always get this cute smile of complete happiness and excitement and greet Sean by saying, "Hey Paco!" I don't even know what "paco" means, knowing the two of them it could be some naughty word in Spanish! Regardless, that phrase will truly be missed in our household.

Sean has been a great influence in our life and in the lives of many others. While we were in El Paso we were able to meet many of his friends and employees who all had nothing but wonderful things to say about him. He was always willing to help any one of his friends in any way that he could whether it be giving advice, providing others with things they otherwise could not afford or just lending a listening ear. Sean always made it a point to end every conversation with, "Is there anything you need? Or is there anything I can do for you?" and was always sincere in his asking. He truly desired to do all he could for others. It is our desire take his example and carry on his legacy of being genuine and thoughtful of those around us and doing what we can for others.

We are so grateful for the many wonderful people Sean brought into our life. Leeza is one of the most wonderful people I have ever met. She is strong, courageous, caring and full of unconditional love. I know that she is an angel, sent to be with Sean during his last days on this earth and I know that he loves her with all of his heart and is full of gratitude for the friend and companion she was to him. I also believe his son Christian, is an angel sent to Sean and Lisa. He may be a cute little baby, but his spirit is strong and comforting. I will always treasure the spirit that we felt just being with Leeza and Christian as we sat in Sean and Leeza's room talking about Sean and all of our great memories of him.

We are also happy to have all of Sean's friends surround us during this difficult time. He truly has amazing friends who are all just as caring and giving as he was. We cannot express the gratitude we feel towards those who came and supported us during those first difficult days and who continue to each day. We have made new friendships with so many people who we now consider our close friends, even though we have only known each other for a short time. We heard it said several times that Sean had many friends and they were all friends because of Sean. It's like he was the "hub" of all of the friendships and kept everyone connected together. In honor of Sean we would like to continue those friendships and are happy to be the "hub" that links everyone together!

We love you Sean and we miss you! You will always be in our hearts and in our thoughts! Thank you for being the wonderful person and friend we could always count on. During our hardest moments I like to think of the chorus to one of my favorite songs by Kenny Chesney. I hope that it can also bring comfort and peace to all those who are also mourning your loss - "...the only thing that gets me through is I know, I'll see you again someday."

Sean and Leeza

Mark and Christian

Bill, Sean and Mark - Austin, TX ~ Oct. 2008

Leeza, Sean, Jamie and Mark -Austin, TX ~ Oct. 2008

Mark and Sean - Lake Austin, Oct. 2008