Since I’ve started this blog I’ve been pretty good about posting every day or every other day. So not posting for a week and a half feels like forever for me, but I just didn’t feel right posting and maybe some of you can understand this feeling.
My friend, Taylor (Chi), passed away last Friday, May 28th. I received the news Saturday from her dad, the morning of my other friend’s wedding. I was in Las Vegas and supposed to be celebrating two beautiful people who have been together almost ten years finally tying the knot. Then I found out my friend, 24 years old, and who I’ve known for 11 years now, had lost her battle with cancer.
She had a type of bone cancer and was diagnosed first in February. She said she was going for a full recovery and the doctors were optimistic for her. The first step was surgery to remove the mass in her pelvis and then she would undergo chemo and radiation treatments. About a month ago she sent a message her tumors were growing through the treatments and had blocked off her ureters causing her kidneys to malfunction. She said the doctors told her there was nothing else medically they could do so she would start living with comfort measures. She said it was possible for her to live years comfortably or we could all be surprised. We were surprised.
Just a couple weeks before I got the news I was at her house dropping off books for her to read. She had surgery in high school and I had done the same thing so she had something to keep her busy and we had something to discuss afterwards. She was in a hospital-like bed in the living room. Her head shaved, but growing back. She had a catheter and her mom had to keep coming over to move her legs for her because they were so sore. I felt helpless as I watched her. She was so lively, positively bubbling with energy in her past, and now she was bed-ridden. We sat and talked for a while and I gave her a hug goodbye, promising I’d see her soon and we would talk about the books I left with her. My books are still at her house. It doesn’t seem real.
I didn’t want to make her death about me. I didn’t want to use it as an excuse to get sympathy and attention. A lot of people posted on Facebook and it tore me apart, wanting to add my memory of her, but hating the fact I’d be receiving “likes” for it. And what’s worse, when people say “I’m sorry for your loss.” I don’t know what it is about that. I know I lost her, but so did so many people. I understand it’s just something people say because, what can you say when someone dies? I wrote something for her as soon as I got the news, and I would like to share that, because Taylor Elizabeth Chenail was truly one of the kindest, caring, and most generous people I have ever known, and the world is going to suffer for her loss.
“My mom used to tell me that dogs had shorter lives than humans because they were born knowing how to love unconditionally. She said that once you learned that lesson you were welcomed to Heaven. I can only think that is why Chi left this world so soon. I have never met another person so kind, positive, and loving as Taylor. When I think back on our friendship I can only remember good thoughts. Like the time she drove through a blizzard just to visit me at McDonald’s. Sure, she got a free McFlurry, but that’s not the reason she risked the journey. It’s because she told me she would be there, and she was not the type of person to let anyone down. Of course, I had to think of our last memory together and I am thankful it is a shared hug, but honestly, any memory with Chi would leave me with a warm feeling. From the moment I met Chi I knew she was different. I knew she was special. No matter what the circumstance was her body was practically humming with positive energy. From her bouncing steps, her easy smile, the constant chatter… everything about her lifted my spirits. One of the first thoughts I had when I heard of her passing was that Heaven would be anxiously awaiting her so they could ask HER for some advice. Knowing Chi has changed me, and although I will grieve her loss, I will be comforted knowing the short amount of time it took her to change the world into a better place.”
And when I finally convinced myself it was OKAY to write about her on Facebook I wrote this:
“For my 16th birthday I casually mentioned how cool it would be to have parties with pinatas again. Chi showed up with one loaded with candy. Taylor was just like that, the girl everyone could count on. She kept us positive with her boundless energy and her upbeat spirit. She never failed to entertain my ideas and sarcasm and balance them with her kindness and caring. I can’t even recall the number of times Chi gently patted my shoulder, letting me know in the gentlest way that I was being ridiculous. She may have lost the battle with cancer, but her memory will live on in every smile, every laugh, every Palahniuk novel I read and hear her voice go “Yea, I didn’t like that too much.”, every concert I attend and remind myself to be the hungry lion and not the timid gazelle, every party I attend that’s not for a specific occasion like a breakfast party or chocolate party, every time I watch Dead Poet’s Society, every time I eat at a Chili’s, every time I play Guitar Hero or Rockband, and every time a nickname is born. She will live on in my heart as she will live on in the hearts of all who knew her. I love you Taylor Elizabeth Chenail, you are and always will be a shining star in the dark.”
And that made it all the more special when I went through my cards and letters and found some from her, solidifying are bond of friendship and the person she was.
So this post is not for me. It’s not so I can see how many “likes” I get, or how many people will comment. This post is for her, for Taylor. I hope that by reading these words you could get a picture of how beautiful she truly was inside and out. And I hope it serves to inspire people to call that friend they haven’t talked to in awhile, or tell their friend they do see all the time just how much their friendship means. Life is short, and sometimes it gets cut shorter unexpectedly.
Rest in Peace, Taylor (Chi) Chenail. ❤