Blue eyes … now green eyes.
19 inches long … now almost 6’5”
Loved to curl up in my lap with his blankie … now his arms wrap around me.
Deeply honest … brilliant violinist … FUNNY—even when there should be repercussions, able to make me laugh … loves large cookies n’ cream milkshakes … my son.
Where has the time gone? How did we get so quickly from you coming into my life and changing me forever and now we are already, too quickly, gazing across an auditorium of caps and gowns watching every move you make with an ache in my heart battling the pride I have for you. You are so deeply GOOD. I watch you toss your cap into the air; as I take pictures, try to cheer through the inability to breathe, and try to soak in every moment of this momentous time in our lives.
Despite the length of the speeches and 538 students each walking across the stage, this moment too passes all too quickly and before I realize, we are wrapping up the last of the pictures and heading to the car to enjoy an ice cream sundae buffet at home together.
As we settle into the car, I check my cell phone.
“Anita was hit by a car… please pray for us. Call when I can.”
Everything slows to a crawl around me.
Anita. Sweet 16 year-old, Anita. Hit by a car? My thoughts seem to be moving through molasses one moment as I try to process this reality before my thoughts move into hyper-speed as I try to decide how to allow my son to celebrate his special night while I go to whichever trauma center in Philly she is in. I continue to send texts to my dear friend, Anita’s mother, Sophia—only to receive very short, misspelled, cryptic texts in response. Texts with no real information. (Later, I found out that Sophia, who is Portuguese, had given her phone to her friend to handle all communications with family and close friends that night … unfortunately, the friend does not write or understand English very well.)
Anita had gone to her grandmother’s hair salon in northeast Philly to get her hair and nails done before they went out to celebrate the end of the school year with a family dinner. As her mother buckled her little sister into her car seat, Anita crossed the road. A drunk driver came speeding down the road, ran the stop sign, and only stopped because he could not figure out why he couldn’t see through his broken windshield. He had no idea that he had hit Anita.
Anita’s mother sobbingly told me the story over and over again, each detail repeated with a dazed tone. I could only cry and listen. Broken arms, collar bones, a foot, and a beloved daughter unable to recall anything and repeating herself over and over and over again.
Sophia had to go attend to the doctor, as we got off the phone at 5am. It had been a long, sleepless night. I tried to get a couple hours of sleep before heading out to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to see Anita. My mind churned. What could I do? The younger sister was already being cared for, refusing to be with anyone except her father—screaming because she had witnessed the entire accident.
I scrolled through the rules for visitors to CHOP’s emergency area and saw that latex balloons were not allowed. I thought of and discarded the idea of flowers—they would wilt before Anita would be able to appreciate them. What could I do?
Then I realized that Anita didn’t need me so much right now, since she was sedated—forced to sleep so that her body could heal. Sophia needed me. My thoughts tumbled about some more. What would I need if I were there at my daughter’s bedside?
I would want comfort. I would want held. I would not want, but I would need food. I would not want, but I would need rest. Knowing that nothing in the world could make Sophia rest until she knew Anita was out of danger, I decided to bring my friend some lunch.
The doctor warned us to be quiet and to not tire Anita. She was awake! Still groggy with medication and not fully understanding everything happening around her—she was still here. So very, very HERE. I carefully hugged Anita and wrapped my arms around Sophia and we sobbed together. We visited and Sophia caught me up on everything. I snuggled the younger sister as we sat together and quietly teased Sophia’s husband because he kept trying to sneak bites of the lunch I’d packed. Meanwhile, I had to continually harass Sophia to take another bite!
Late Friday night, Sophia called me because she was alone in the hospital and just needed to have someone to chat with. We spoke about Anita and the relapse she’d taken, and the steps the doctors were taking. We spoke about the loneliness of the hospital and the wonderful nurses. As we chatted, Sophia mentioned the lunch. She appreciated the care and gifts that everyone had brought by that day, but she said, the lunch was what she needed most. She and her husband had not eaten since the afternoon before and even though she didn’t think she was hungry, it was what she needed. She cried as she shared how that represented the Savior’s love to her—giving her something that was warm and strengthening, something simple, but it was love to her.
After hanging up the phone, I cried. Tears of grateful humility for my Savior—for His loving example and teachings—showing me how to truly LOVE. The parable of the Good Samaritan teaches us to see the wounded on the road to Jericho and to help them with their needs. We have a culture that teaches us that we have to have everything social media-worthy and picture-ready before we can serve and do for others.
Want to throw your child a birthday party? Be sure you have checked Pinterest for ideas to give your child a party they’ll remember! Truth? My kids don’t recall the parties that I slaved hours and hours over any more than they remember the time we sat on the kitchen counters to watch TV and eat pizza while Dad was out of town. Both are cherished memories.
Want to let your teacher know that you appreciated their efforts? Be sure to put together a color-coordinated gift basket of all of their summer favorites! Truth? Have your child write a sincere, detailed letter of appreciation—the teacher will cherish it more.
The parable of the Good Samaritan teaches us that we need to be on the lookout for opportunities to do good, assess how best to answer the needs that we find, then to DO the good needed.
This last week’s experiences have shown me how very quickly these opportunities to do good in the lives of those around us pass. I feel like I have blinked and my darling son has become a man—all of those minutes and hours of his growing up have gone. All of those opportunities to impact and teach and serve him are in the past. The future will hold new opportunities, but as this week has also taught me, we are not guaranteed the future. Life is precious. Grab every moment and live and love to your best and fullest.
Growing up all over the world gave Emlee Taylor an opportunity to see the incredible differences the Lord created in humanity; and even better, the passions we all share as members of the human race: love for family, faith, & a desire to make a difference. Emlee lives life with passion—focusing her time now on raising four children and teaching them to recognize truth and to live true to that truth, regardless of others’ expectations. Emlee is passionately in love with her bestest friend and husband of more than 20 years.