To quote my friend Claire Hargis, "One year later feels like one year and one day all at the same time." One year ago today many of us lost a sister, a daughter, a girlfriend, a best friend, a big, a little, a friend, and so much more. Taylor Helland was the biggest light of joy I have ever seen. In fact, I am convinced that one could catch her joy just by looking at her. She passed away after a long battle with cancer, but seeing her you would have never known. Her spirit was always so high and positive. To this day it still amazes me. I think about her often, but more recently since break because I myself have been struggling in different areas and I have tried so hard to be like Taylor.
One of the coolest things that has happened this year in my opinion is the choose joy shirts that were sold in her honor. She would have loved them! I don't know how many were sold, but they are all over campus always and each time it brings a smile to my face. People who didn't even know her wear them and I have had friends back home that have bought them. Her message is all over the place and I know she must be thrilled that she has made an impact well beyond one year ago today. When I am stressed, sad, or feel alone I wear one of my choose joy shirts and almost instantly feel this warmth. Taylor has still been a friend to me all the way from up above.
This past weekend I attended the Beta Keystone conference for the Southeast region in Tulsa, OK. On Saturday night I was walking down the hallway alone when I realized I had been locked outside of my room. At that moment these two guys came up to me and said, "Okay so this might be kind of weird, but we know you." I am instantly scrambling in my head trying to remember when I met them or how I knew them. They said, "We were best friends with Taylor Helland in high school. She was one of our great friends and she told us about you." Now it is probably not acceptable to cry at a fraternity conference (and I didn't), but I so could have. We chatted for a bit about her and over the course of the weekend exchanged numbers because they were from the Arkansas chapter so it was necessary. After I walked away I glanced up at the ceiling and said, "You planed that didn't you? What perfect timing my friend."
Taylor advocated a tremendous amount for other children with cancer. She spoke at several places and raised great awareness. One of her passions on campus was Dance Marathon, which benefits Cook Children's Hospital here in Fort Worth where Taylor received treatment. It has grown tremendously in the past year and it is taking place this weekend. I will be dancing 10 hours straight for Taylor--I am really hoping they play some Ed Sheeran-- and my goal is to raise $300.00. If you would like to donate (I would be so appreciative) please visit: http://events.dancemarathon.com/participant/sat
I have thought a lot about one of the last times I saw Taylor and I think I have it pinned down. It was sometime in the fall of 2015 while I was waiting for one of my friends in her apartment complex. She came running in and she was SO happy. I have the image in my head and it is very hard to describe, but she looked like she was having the best day of her life. Like nothing could get in her way. She was like that a lot, but there was something about this moment that will always stand out to me. She truly was a light. Anytime I would see Taylor, no matter how quick the interaction was, we would always ask each other what we were thankful for. We chatted for a moment and then before running off she said, "What are you thankful for today?" I sadly don't remember what I said, but in return I asked her and I will never forget what she said. Something along the lines of, "The people Cade. I couldn't be more grateful for the people in my life."
Taylor, you already know this, but your people miss you. I know you were watching, but tonight so many people who love and miss you showed up at the founders statue to celebrate a year of you being pain free and happier than ever. So many people. Your family, your friends, and many more. By the way you should be so impressed with Grace. She spoke with such poise and truth. You two are the greatest big/little there ever was hands down. We are all just so grateful for you and your impact. We miss you, but we are choosing joy because that is exactly what you taught us to do. I also really enjoyed finally getting to meet your parents. Gosh they are so strong and kind. Please keep looking over us all and continue to be a presence on this campus.
Since finally piecing together the last conversation Taylor and I had I have been trying my absolute hardest to be thankful for the people. There is so much more to life than fraternities, sororities, grades, tests, jobs, papers, fashion, pop culture, sports, and anything else that appears big in your life. At the end of the day the people in your life should be a high priority. Don't take them and their love for granted please. I certainly wish Taylor was still here. Be thankful for them like Taylor was. She loved and cared and cherished her people. I encourage you to do the same. Text them or call them and let them know how much they mean to you.
Grace, Taylor's little, said tonight, "I literally believe Taylor was an angel walking on earth." That statement could not be more accurate. She traded in one set of wings for another and had continued to bless us over and over. Please keep Taylor's friends and family in your prayers during this time. Though everyone is choosing joy it is still sad. Loved your loved ones. Love strangers. Love those who do not know how to love. Be thankful for this life. Be thankful for Taylor and her message. Choose Joy always.
One last thing Taylor, I have got this test tomorrow morning in good ole Moudy. Help me to do my best and to choose joy no matter how unprepared I feel. Thanks friend! See you soon!
Southern and Thankful
Blessed is an understatement when it comes to my life. Each and every day I am amazed by God's steadfast love. In return, I have claimed this space to show my thanks and whatever else comes along the way. A student at Texas Christian University who loves any creative insta post, all donuts, and dress pants that make you do a double take. I pray God has a grand purpose for me and I plan to get there with a little Southern and a lot of Thanks! Join me!