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Is this really my life?  / Lori Burgstahler (Mother)
For those of you who are new to this journey, and for those who don't understand, but want to. This is for you: Rewritten by Lori Burgstahler Only a parent understands the powerful bond you have with your child; that absolute undying love you have and that monumental desire that roars like an open fire inside you to protect that child at all costs. It is openly said that a parent will lay down their life for their child, but it is not until you have your own that you truly understand these fierce emotions. Parenting is wearing your heart on the outside of your body. Whatever you imagine it might be like to have your child die, multiply that by about a trillion and you’re probably not even close. On the surface it appears society is accepting of this unbearable sadness and people are supportive and open to talking about it. However, in my situation I’ve been surprised by people’s genuine kindness and empathy as much as I’ve been repeatedly shocked & disappointed by their lack of it. It’s necessary for bereaved parents to be able to talk and, most of all, be able to talk openly. I’ve found it’s the only thing which dispels the trauma. Sure, friends and family have been supportive, but it’s proven to be the case with me that there is a mandate as for how long their unwavering support, patience, understanding, concern and empathy lasts. The truth is, the situation is so unbearably sad that it becomes incredibly emotionally draining on the other person. The realization that they can’t fix your sadness sets in, the frustration builds because not even they can see an end in sight, then gradually it starts to impede on the happiness in their life. They haven’t lost their child so why should they spend all their time sad about yours? I will, for the sake of all the other parents out there with empty arms, write ten things I wish people knew about the loss of a child. Maybe one of my ten points might make a difference to a bereaved parent’s life. 1. Ten years on I still get up every day with the exact same sadness I had the day Taylor died. The only difference is I’m more skilled at hiding it and I’m much more used to the agony of my broken heart. The shock has somewhat lessened, but I do still find myself thinking I can’t believe this happened. I thought that only happened to other people. You asked how I was in the beginning yet you stopped, why? Where did you get the information on what week or month was good to stop asking? 2. Please don’t tell me that all you want is for me to be happy again. Nobody wants that more than I do, but it’s something that can only be achieved with time. On top of that, I have to find a new happiness. The happiness I once felt, that carefree feeling, will never return in its entirety. It also helps to have the patience and understanding from loved ones. 3. Please don’t say ‘I want the old Lori back!’ Or, I can see the old Lori coming back! Lori’s not coming back. This is who I am now. If you only knew the horror I witnessed and endured you would know it’s not humanly possible for me to ever be the same person again. Losing a child changes who you are. I’ve been told my eyes look haunted. It’s a strange thing for someone to tell a grieving mother, but it’s true – I am haunted. My views on the world have changed, things that were once important are not now and vice versa. I feel as though you’re telling me two things here. Firstly you don’t like the person I am and, secondly if the old Lori’s not coming back I’m out of here. By the way there is nobody that misses the “old Lori” more than me!!! I’m mourning two deaths here; my son’s and my former self. 4. If you chose to acknowledge my son’s birthday or the anniversary of his death on the first year, it’s terribly gut wrenching when you didn’t bother to acknowledge the second or third or fourth or... Do you think any subsequent birthday or anniversary is not as sad for me? It also says to me in very big neon lights that you’ve moved on and forgotten about my son. 5. Please stop with the continual comments about how lucky I am to have my other child. Do I say this to you? Then why say it to me? I’ve buried my son do you seriously think I feel lucky? 6. It’s not healthy to cry in front of the kids? You’re wrong. It is perfectly healthy that she sees I’m sad her brother has died. When someone dies it’s normal to cry. What would not be normal would be for my daughter to grow up and think “I never even saw my Mom sad over Taylor’s death.” That would paint me in a light that would tell them it’s healthy to hide your emotions when obviously it’s not. 7. I have two children I don’t have one. If you want to ignore Taylor as my first born because he’s dead go for it but don’t do it for me. Two not One! 8. There are still some days, yes ten years on, that I still want to hide away from the world and take a break from pretending everything is oh so wonderful and I’m all better. Please don’t just assume I’ve thrown in the towel, or worse, actually be so thoughtless as to wonder what’s wrong with me. I still know I’ve married the catch of the century and my daughter is gorgeously divine and I have a beautiful house, but I’m grieving. It’s mentally exhausting, especially raising a teenage daughter and on top of that maintaining a strong and loving marriage. Unbeknownst to you, I’m dealing with not just my own grief, but my beautiful husbands and my daughters. It would be nice if you congratulated me on the state of my family because keeping it together, stable and happy, has been hard work. 9. I did notice. To the friends and family that found the entire death and dealing with my sadness all too hard and held secret events behind our backs that were lied about, stopped inviting us to things we had always been included in and slowly ended our relationship thinking I didn’t notice. I did notice. The only reason why I never said anything is because I’m not wasting my words on your shameful behavior. I am thankful for something though – I didn’t waste any more time on people that were capable of such shallowness and cruelty. Please don’t fear. I would be the first one by your side if the same thing happened to you. That should give you some indication of how horrible it is. 10. Grieving for a child lasts until you see them again. It’s a lifetime. If you’re wondering how long your friend or family member might be grieving for, the answer is forever. Don’t rush them, don’t trivialize their sadness, don’t make them feel guilty for being sad and when they talk to you, open your ears and listen, really listen to what they’re telling you. It’s possible you’ll learn something. Don’t be so cruel as to give up on them remember it’s not about you it’s about them. I’ve been left repeatedly heart broken as family members that I truly loved and never thought would walk away from me tossed me into the too hard basket or – more hurtfully – the crazy basket. Phone calls stopped, text messages stopped, comments on Facebook stopped and I get the same thing every time. “Sorry darling I’m just flat out tired”, “Let’s catch up soon” and “I miss you.” The list could keep going but I get it. I’m not the type of person either that is going to pursue a friendship I know the other person doesn’t want. Everyone has a conscience and thankfully I don’t have to live with theirs. You would think there are a lot of articles that raise awareness of the awful process associated with grieving for a child, but even stories from other parents are a rarity. The sad reality is there just isn’t enough said or printed. You seldom hear through the media about grieving for a child and the impact their death has on all the various people involved. It can destroy a marriage instantly, it can leave siblings hurt, confused and angry. Often siblings are too young to understand, they’re angry that their family is not the same and even angrier that they don’t recognize their parents. Losing their sibling is bad enough but so much more is lost for these siblings that is never recognized. I could count on one hand the amount of times I’ve been asked how my daughter is. You might hear about the gory details surrounding a child’s death in the media but that’s about all. There should be so much more written about this topic, and additionally it should be talked about more openly than it is. I’m disappointed not just for me but for all the other grieving parents in society that this topic is met with so much fear and silence. The bottom line is people are uncomfortable with the situation and I really don’t know why. My feelings tell me it is such an horrific thing that most people don’t want to know about it. Maybe they fear through knowing so much they might become obsessed with their own children dying. Parents worry enough about their children already. Do they really need the added worry about knowing how your child died? Without question, my son Taylor dying suddenly has been the worst thing that has happened in my 50 years here on Earth. I doubt that anything in my future is going to top it. Actually, just between us, I beg and plead with God on a daily basis that nothing ever does top that experience, but the truth is I just don’t know. I’m not a mind reader nor do I have a magic pair of glasses where I can see how the rest of my life will unfold. I just have to hope that nothing ever does go wrong, but I have a very real fear it will because it has actually already happened to me. I know without having to hold a psychology degree that having those fears is normal. “I don’t think I would be able to survive something like it again.” What I’ve endured, losing my sweet son, has been so unimaginably horrific that I don’t think I would survive something like it again. What I have had to give emotionally to get through it has dwindled away all my mental strength – just like twenty cents pieces in a kid’s piggy bank. I’m broke – not broken – I’m broke emotionally. I know all the energy I’ve needed over the last ten years has not just been spent on my grief for Taylor. It’s been on trying to get my friends and family to understand what it’s like to walk in my shoes. I’m angry about that. When I should have been grieving, I was defending myself. I’m probably very close to being as angry about that as I am about his death. I wish I wasn’t angry. Lord knows I don’t need another emotion but I don’t know how to not be angry, especially with some of the things that people have said and done to me. I talk and talk yet I’m often never actually heard. I’m not sure if it’s a lack of literature around or perhaps that people simply don’t want to read it because it’s so awful and they don’t want to know someone they love and care about it experiencing so much agony. I personally know though, if I found out a family member or friend had been diagnosed with an illness or disease, or worse, their child, I would be on Google immediately finding out more about it and how I could help them the best. So why is it that this doesn’t seem to apply with the death of a child? Most people just think they know. I find this extremely frustrating. The death of your child is the worst thing that can happen to a person, yet most feel educated enough to advise, to criticize, to lend their words of wisdom when they don’t know the first thing about it. Get over it? Why don’t we see if you could get over it first! Most people wouldn’t know that when I meet someone new I instantly become uncomfortable and filled with dread. I know at any moment when I engage in conversation the question is going to arise about my family and how many children do I have? I would love not to have to tell them. Life would be a lot easier if I could take that path. However, I do have another child. His name is Taylor. He would now be 27 but he died when he was 17 years old. He isn’t lost – I know exactly where he is, he’s dead. Taylor was my first born and he deserves to be acknowledged just as much as my daughter. I’ve lied before saying I have only one child, but the guilt that follows me around for days on end is just simply not worth it. I can actually hear Taylor saying to me “don’t I matter anymore?” “Why were you too ashamed to talk about me?” So personally for me, as much as I don’t want to tell someone I don’t personally know very well that my son is dead, the guilt of not acknowledging him is worse. I don’t have one child, I have two and my daughter is not my only child – I have a son as well. It’s pot luck what their reaction is going to be. There’s no telling what they’re going to say. You just have to close your eyes, cover your broken heart and hope they don’t plunge that knife further in. If I could have my questions answered on why people give so much advice on a topic that they know so little about, it would really help me. What has surprised me so much since Taylor’s death is how little empathy there is in the world. Empathy to me is a no brainier. You just imagine you’re in the other persons shoes, simple yes? Apparently no. Just think how you would like to be treated and if you wouldn’t like it don’t do it. You never know what your life holds – one day it could be you wearing my shoes! I hope this article about my personal thoughts and opinions helps at least one person understand to some degree what life is like for the bereaved parent ❤
Tay / Enu Singh (same as my Son )
Life is a peril of eternity. His life was short as some would say. But not when you remember him each day. He taught You life is not here to stay. It is what you remember from each day. It is not the length of your life on earth. It is what is remembered from time of birth. He is a part of my life and my soul. That was never allowed to grow old. When he was born he made his mark. His life kept many from the dark. Just remember him each minute of every day. Until you arewith him forever to stay. You have to wait till when it's your time. But forever his memory will be Thine.
Time heals, but very so slightly  / Mom (mom)
They say that time is the great healer, but I don't really believe that anymore. Perhaps it does when it concerns a broken heart over lost affections from an old lover or friend. Perhaps your heart hurts for a year or two every once in a while after your parent has died. But a child????

You heart never heals.

That big bloody gapping wound which sucks the life out of you when you try to carry on just grows a light scab for a day or two and then it falls off. Except most wounds would leave just a slight scar, but this wound that is left after your child dies - it still bleeds profusely. It always bleeds. It bleeds when you are around your family as you watch all your young cousins, sisters, brothers, nieces and nephews grow up. It bleeds as you realize that you can't picture your child grown up - because they never did.

They will always be remembered in your mind wearing the same clothes they had on years ago. Or when you think about them they are wearing what they were wearing when they were buried. And the only possible way you can picture them in anything different is to go to the box of clothes you have secretly hidden away in your attic and take an article of clothing out of that box, hold it to your body tightly then lift it to your nose and breathe deep. Trying desperately to find ever the slightest scent of your dearest child - hoping and praying that if you breathe in hard enough perhaps when you breathe out you may be able to breathe some life into your child and they will magically appear.

If you have lost your only child, you have lost your immortality. You try to lie to yourself that you have so much to live for when in all honesty, you don't. You try to tell yourself that your child would want you to go on. Really? Really? Would any child really want their parent to not grieve over them? Would anyone anywhere want people to forget them? That they 'understand' that life goes on and it's perfectly fine if you never think of them again?

Bullshit.

NO ONE wants to be forgotten.

But my dear friends. Unless you have a very large endowment that PAYS others to not forget you - you will be forgotten.

Just like the old faded graves you happen upon when you linger in a graveyard to satisfy your morbid curiosity to see who lays beneath the brown piecemeal grass beneath your feet. And for one fleeting second you think, "Wow, that's old."

But nary a thought for that person and what his life once was or what destruction his death may have left behind.

The only thing that time has done in this case is wipe away the jagged letters on the tombstone so that people have an excuse not to remember - because the letters are faded like the memories of those we love.

Time does not heal.

Time drags the pain on and on and on until the peaceful slumber of death takes your last painful memory and locks it away forever.

 

Time heals nothing  / Lori (mother)

So it's been years since Taylor has died and to everyone else - life has gone on.

To his dad and I life is still July 18th 2005.

One just never really gets over the death of a child.

I can't even write on this site anymore because if I do then I expect someone to read them and really -- no one does.

I will always grieve my prescious young son who was struck down in the glory of his teenage years.

How it possbily could have even happened is still a question that remains unanswered to me.

When you have a child as kind and loving and appreciative of being a part of your family, having them die is like having your life sucked right out of your body.

The only difference between Taylor's death and my life is that I still remain in my earthly body and I am forced to remain on this earth for fear of hurting others that I love.

I have to be strong, when in reality I am very weak. I lost my ability to fight when Taylor died. People marvel at how strong I am and I look at them through my souless eyes and secretly scream inside my mind, 'I am not strong! I am hanging by a thread and I am about to let go!"

I thank the great entity of energy that I'm hoping truly exists for my daughter because she is the only reason I stay. Because I am so afraid I would miss her too much if I left this earthly world. I'd miss her beauty, her sweetness, her essence.

I lay in bed at night and silently cry for my lost son -- and for my daughter because it breaks my heart to know she is ever aware of my sadness and she sees the desperation  in my eyes when I struggle each day to make the decision to leave or stay. No child should have to go through that. But most children who are left behind do.  

I will forever love my son and try to imagine what he'd be like as a young man. But I can't. Because he is still the young 17 year old school kid who loved basketball, ska music, his friends, his car, his mom and dad and sister and....

I love you Taylor. Taylor. Taylor. Taylor...

 

 

A little hello  / Cassie (Friend from school )

Mrs. Burgstahler and family

My name is Cassie and I went to school with Taylor and Brooke. I doubt you remember me but I served on stugo with both Taylor and Brooke in middle and high school as I was in the grade in between them. Taylor was a huge role model in my life and his spirit and friendship is something that I will never forget.

The other day I opened my email up and there was a message from him just sitting there. At first the email adress didn't click but after a few moments of uncertainty it came back to me that it was his. I used to talk to him quite a bit on AIM so it was a very familiar address to me. The message doesn't say anything it's just a strand of old StuGo emails from 2003. Why or how I got this forwarded message 8 years later from Taylor's email I'm not sure. I'm a very spiritual person and believe that maybe it's just his way of saying that he's ok and watching over us. It said that it was sent to our whole student government team but I contacted Bethany and she said she didn't recieve it.

My life will be forever touched by Taylor and in many ways this email has comforted me. I never understood how the Lord could take such a precious life away from us Taylor was one of the best leaders and all around person that I have ever met. My own brother died who would be the same age as Taylor. I like to think that they met eachother and are looking over our families together.

I just wanted to let you know about this email and send my love and prayers to you and your family.

 

 

 

Taylor was/is such a great person!  / Friend From High School

I am sorry I cannot figure out how to post this on Taylors memorial site but I wanted to send it to you and when I clicked you email this came up I hope you do not mind.

My intentions are not to make you sad but to let you know how much Taylor is even touching the lives of those who only knew of him till this day and forever more. This is what I tried to post but am not sure if it did or not...


First to the family I want to send my deepest condolences and send healing hopes your way.

Must have been not only a week ago I suddenly started thinking about this boy I went to high school with in the same grade as me who had passed away on a camping trip.

I could not remember his name for anything for a few moments. Then I took time to reflect. I knew he was someone who was well loved still could not remember the name. I knew he was someone who was popular still could not remember the name. I knew he hung out with people in many different clicks still could not remember his name. I knew he was beyond belief funny still could not remember his name.

Then it came to me..

One day my friend came up to me and said have you ever met Taylor Burgstahler I simply replied with a no but I had heard about him.

She just wanted to inform me he had complimented her that day and it made her day brighten when she was down she had never talked to him before. They were only classmates however in a large group like DM classmates of the year 06 doesn't mean anything really.

He had just said the compliment in passing through from one class to the next no initiation from my friend just out of the blue.

Then for the next couple months I started hearing his name everywhere I think because his last name is more unique.

 Anyways the things people were saying were all so positive and kind.

I guess the point I am trying to make is that even though I probably maybe just in passing never met him he has stuck with me forever.

Not because he is now passed but because he was such a good person and lifted so many people up in their lives.

I don't know what made me think of him suddenly the other day.

 Then today I see someone posted about this memorial site and I just wanted to share my through a passerbys thoughts.

I hope you have all been able to find some peace and serenity. I cannot figure out how to read the dates on these posts but I have read some on Lori Burgstahler posts and they are all beautiful.

The butterfly story brought me to tears because it just seemed like Taylor to me.

You may find that strange a girl who has never met or talked to Taylor saying "it seemed like Taylor to me" but I just feel like that his how people described him to me a beautiful butterfly so sweet and friendly.

A butterfly who is there to comfort or there to listen a butterfly who will silently perch on your hand to truly let you know they are with you.

I cant explain it I just know it was Taylor there with you Lori as well. :)

4th of July  / Mom

I remember the year you died and how anxious I was to have you and Brooke come to PA to meet everyone here.

You never made it and it sucks because NO ONE knows you here. How very sad.

Without your sister here to make us laugh life has gotten very quiet.

It's strange how other parents get so upset about their kids. We never really had that friction Tay.

I guess one reason why is because deep down inside I must have always known that you weren't going to be here long.

The last year and all that happened now makes sense to me.

So your "death" or "reborn" date is coming up fast.

July 17th. I dread the day yet I can't wait to have it come by and be passed.

I still have so many questions.

I'm trying to keep an open mind but sometimes when other hurtful things happen I often wonder what is the point?

What lesson am I possibly supposed to learn from it?

The scariest thing about your 5 year date approaching is that it's true -- your super sad feelings begin to fade.

But then again so do the memories.

The memories of you.

If I were to be honest I really can't remember what your voice sounded like.

Or what your hug felt like or even how crystal clear your great big blue eyes were.

Time has a funny way of stripping those memories away.... they fade... into nothingness....

I will forever remember my feeling for you.

How happy I was to finally become a mom and how proud I was of the person you were from the very first day I held you.

You were always wise beyond your years and you always knew how to react in every situation.

Nothing ever got you very upset. Except basketball -- on the court -- you really must have been quite the basketball player in a past life. =)

I miss everything about you our family and all my old dreams.

Love you Taylor always and forever.

Mom

STILL Missing you  / Mom

It's going to be four years Taylor and I still feel the rawness of the first day's pain. Some people are better at regrouping, but I've been there, done that. I lived a very lonely life until you came along, you gave me reason to fight and to be strong. It's nice to be needed, nobody needs me now...

A wonderful woman, another grieving mom wrote a letter to me that I'd like to share with you Taylor, because it says how I feel. I wrote what's in blue, she wrote what's in red:


It's been nearly four years. I can't really remember what Taylor's voice sounded like. I can't remember his hugs, or his smell. I can't even remember his smile. I have videos, but I'm deathly afraid of looking, for fear I may end up back at step one.

I go into his bedroom (at least what would have been his room if he had ever even seen this house... he died the week we moved here) and I look around it and just can't wrap my brain around the fact that he is gone. GONE. I never even got to say goodbye.


I feel as though I am the reason Taylor died.

I feel SO GUILTY. And it's literally killing me. It's been four years, and I haven't told a soul how I feel. Not that anyone wants to hear it anyhow, you know? I mean, it's been FOUR YEARS! I adored my son, we were extremely close, we had matching personalities and thoughts.

I don't cry in front of anyone. My neighbors think I'm "fun" because I try to be helpful and talkative. 



I'm always there for my daughter, going down to Florida whenever there is a crisis (dorm roommate problems, classes, whatever she needs) and I know she loves me. But Taylor is always in the back of my mind. I just feel as though I've lost my best friend. (I actually DID! My best friend died just 9 months after Taylor! I know! Even my DOG died a month BEFORE Taylor! I have death all around me... I smell the stench of death in my dreams even)

We're not doing the golf tournament this year because we need a break (DH gets nearly 100% of the donations for the auction through work and it's VERY emotionally draining for him.) I certainly couldn't do it all myself and he basically has done the majority of all the work for the tournament every year. But now I'm feeling guilty that we are not doing it. I'm just so afraid that we will not ever do anything in Taylors memory again.


I must say, my husband is as heartbroken about Taylor's death still, as I am.  That and our daughter who really just doesn't need anymore sh*t in her life to deal with.I have not been able to catch my breath.
Am I depressed? No, I'm just telling it like it is. Is it better than the gut wrenching cries of pain that you experience the first year? Absolutely. It's dulled, but with the dulling of the pain comes a new set of emotions. I haven't told anyone I feel this sad at times. I'm the "rock" in the family and I think that if I ever fell apart, my entire family would crumple.

I'm so surprised that I feel so empty still. It's as if a bridge that connected me to the rest of the world has been torn away when Taylor died and I have not been able to reach the other side. I'm stretching out my hand, I'm trying to help others (I talk to grieving parents on the phone 24/7 if they need someone to talk to.) I'm trying to "move on" and I just can't. It's as if someone pushed a switch and my world stopped. Except the rest of the world is going on and I'm standing next to it trying to jump back on, but it's going too fast and I can't.

I just wanted to tell you that I am feeling the same way. My son Bobby died 5 years ago at age 19, suddenly and unexpectedly from a heart condition. I have one luving child, Samantha, who is in college, and is 21. Bobby was 2 years older than her.
I feel we have many parallels, and that while some people do seem to be better by now, these things we share could be why we feel this way.

My father died when I was 3. My mother was an abusive alcoholic - although my sisters and I didn't teally figure out the alcoholism until we were adults because she managed to keep it well hidden.
I married a high functioning alcoholic and stayed married (because I didn't want my kids to have a divorced family) for 10 years.
I've been basically alone since then (1995)- had two relationships but just sort of gave up and lost interest in trying to find the elusive "Mr Right".


I'm tired right now so am trying to make this brief....
My son, my daughter and I were like the 3 musketeers. We loved each other more than most families I always thought... and I spent ALL of my time raising them,
trying to be the best Mom in the world.


I told them I love them every day. The relationship I had with my son was the best and closest relationship I ever have had or probably will have with a man.
He was, at the time of his death, my best friend.


I adored him. I liked him more than any other person I've ever known (besides my daughter) and just the way I felt so happy because of him- it's hard to explain it to most people, but I think that I had so much pain as a child, and was so sad that my Dad died, that when my son came into my life it was like a
miracle to me- he changed my life from a dark, lonely existance, to a wonderful, warm, sunny, beautiful and happy world...

I just can't imagine loving anyone more than I love and loved my children.


I love my daughter equally and would feel exactly as horrible had it been her and not him- but he was my only son, he was SO special, and such a beautiful person- I guess I don't have to explain it to you. ;)


Anyway, I think losing a parent when you are a child or having any sort of dysfunctional childhood can make us more determined to be better mothers, and we become closer to our children, and invest way more energy and time in our families, so when one of our children dies it really is more devastating to us.

I feel like I was maybe dependent on my son in some ways for my own happiness, maybe because it wasn't until he was born that I ever felt loved, or knew happiness. Now he is gone, and even though I still have my daughter, I miss him so much!

 
Also, people rarely mention him to me anymore, and just this past weekend my oldest friend (although we only see each other about once or twice a year over the past 20 years) told me I need to "move on", and "get over it"!!! So now I feel like I have one less friend. I just can't have people in my life who would say something like that to me.

Anyway, I just wanted you to know I feel very similar to you. Our children became our lives- we are not career women- and we have been robbed- I think it is much harder for us.

Maybe what she says is true, I'm not sure, but I do feel as though Taylor was such a huge part of my life, nothing can ever fill the void that's been left since his death.

*sigh*

I know that one reason I feel like I do is because I identified so much of who I was with being Taylor's mom. I was always working full time crazy hours and weekends (coaching gymnastics so I could still help the kids during the day at school) so I could be the PTO President, the room mom, the scout leader (Taylor's and Brookes!) the holiday mom, soccer mom, etc., like most of us have done. But when we moved away to AZ I became ONLY  a mom -doing all the school volunteer stuff everyday. I lost myself in their lives and now, without Tay, it seems as if the world has stopped and no matter how hard I try I can't seem to get back on.
*sigh*

I guess because I feel as though the whole world expects me to "be over it" and after a while, people (friends & family) don't bother to mention his name. WHY DO PEOPLE NOT MENTION HIS NAME???  I suppose out of sight out of mind has a lot to do with it. I do understand, and I don't expect people to talk about Taylor all the time. But maybe a, "How are you doing?" once in a while would be nice....


Maybe it's because we never had the chance to grieve with Taylor's friend's because we moved the week he died and no one had ever met Taylor here. Nobody knows how much we've lost.

I just don't feel the typical depressed feelings. I don't feel worthless, or suicidal, but when I think about Taylor and how much I miss him I cry endless tears. I think it's getting worse and not better. 

 

Does anyone feel as though after a few years, people pretty much think, "Well it's been a few years, get over it already!  I must be so screwed up, I just feel as though this is never going to end and the further I get away from Taylor's death date, I feel less and less capable of ever moving on.

It's just that we had the perfect family. We had the boy first and he was a very nice, easy kid. We had the girl next. I loved both my kids equally, but so differently because one was a boy and one was a girl. I LOVED being a mom first and foremost because I didn't have a close family growing up.

Online support groups  / Lori Burgstahler (Mother)
Listed below are a few of the online support groups available to people who are in the grieving process. If you are unable to receive the support youneed to get through this process, please email me for help. 

Beyond Indigo  http://www.death-dying.com/ 
Changing the way you feel about grief and loss

Disaster Survivor Support http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/DisasterSurvivorSupport/ 


Drowning Support Group http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/DrowningSupportNetwork/ 
Peer to Peer support

Empty Arms, Heavy Heart  http://www.childloss.com/ 
Grief and support site for those that have lost children. Memorials designed free of charge.

Forever Sleeping with Angels  http://groups.msn.com/ForeverSleepingAngels/welcome.msnw 
Share a personal angel. Memorials, chat boards, photos, candles, and special dates remembered.

God's Tiny Angels http://www.godstinyangels.org/ 
A non-profit Christian organization dedicated to providing support to families who have experienced the loss of a child through miscarriage, stillbirth, SIDS, ectopic or molar pregnancy, and infant death.

Good Intentions Online http://www.goodintentionsonline.org/ 
volunteer based organization committed to providing support to families after the death of their child.

Grief Steps http://www.griefsteps.com/
volunteer based organization committed to providing support to families after the death of their child

Healing After Loss  http://www.healingafterloss.org/ 
Recovery resources, message boards, chat rooms

Widows too Young  http://www.widowstooyoung.com
Support group for young widows and widowers

The Compassionate Friends http://www.compassionatefriends.org
National self help support organization for families experiencing the loss of a child.

The Bereavement Journey http://www.thebereavementjourney.com
A place where anyone who is grieving the loss of a loved one can receive support; includes chat, forums, links, after-death experience descriptions. 

Passages  http://www.journeyhome.com/passages 
Provides emotional and spiritual support for people who are dying, grieving, or providing care for a loved one who is dying.

One Bright Star  http://www.katoinfo.com/linder_radio/ktoe/life_after_loss.php 
Recorded Life After Loss radio sessions you can listen to  on your computer.

Mothers of Murdered Sons/Daughters  http://moms.memorial-of-love.net 
A site where Moms can share their grief, for mutual support, containing a photo memory board, and message board.

Mixed Emotions http://members.tripod.com/carolannem/mixedemotions1.html 
Support group for adult children dealing with the death (or impending death) of a parent from whom they are emotionally estranged, due to emotional or verbal abuse, alcoholism, or other addictions or dysfunctions.

After Death Communication http://www.after-death.com 
Dedicated to After-Death Communication (ADC)
experiences and bereavement support for those grieving the death of a loved one.
The Gift of Family  / Momma Burgh (mommie)

As a family, Taylor, Brooke and I have been blessed with having  very close relationships.  Unlike most families where there is often some sibling strife or parent-child tension, our family never experienced that.  I raised our children on positive reinforcement and didn't believe in corporate punishment.  We never had to raise a hand to either of our children and as they grew older it showed in their compassionate personalities.



When Taylor and Brooke were younger,  I made the decision to not allow the kids to pick on each other, we nipped any arguments in the bud immediately.  They never had the opportunity to allow their anger to grow to the extreme and it showed in their relationship as they grew older.

Because Taylor and Brooke had to move several times around the country for Dad's job, they were able to experience the good and the bad of meeting new people and learning about new surroundings.  At a very early age they had to learn to count on each other.  We all did.  We were a family first and foremost. And it worked perfectly.

Sometimes the moves were a little more difficult for one person more than  another, but we  felt each others pain.  We were there to support each other and to lift each other up.  We knew we could count on  family to be there for us, no matter what. We were the perfect millionaires family - Mom, dad,  a son and a daughter.  We were loving life together.  We spent holidays, vacations and weekends as a family.  We played board games and cards and watched movies together.  We actually enjoyed being together. Even as the kids grew into teenagers. 

Mom and dad were involved in every aspect of their lives.  Dad as a coach, and mom as the PTO officer, teacher, fund raiser, scout leader, whatever activities the kids were involved in, we were a part of it too.  A very big part. 

Taylor and Brooke each had the same teachers growing up until they reached middle school.  We had planned it that way so they could share the same experiences, and it worked wonderfully for us.  They really connected and understood what the other was going through. It was as if they were twins.  That's how close they were, they shared everything. 

When Taylor and Brooke started high school, they began the  process of taking the same classes and having many of the same teachers.  They had so much in common, including a respect for each other most  brother and sisters rarely saw. 

Brooke and Taylor loved each other, they shared experiences and tears, they shared hopes and dreams.  They had planned on attending similar schools so they could be close to one another.  They LIKED each other, they were friends. 

People who knew the two of them still marvel at the way they treated each other.  People comment on how close they were, how it was amazing that when it came down to it, they agreed on most everything.  Sure, they were teenage siblings and they sometimes didn't see eye to eye, but that  rarely happened.  They had learned to reach compromises that worked for both of them.  And enjoyed getting to know each others friends and teasing each other in a very friendly way.


What makes Taylor's death so horrifying, is that (besides it being so sudden) all four of us were so tight.  We planned to live near each other forever, to share our lives with each other because we wanted to.  We were closer than most families.  There was always hugging and kissing and telling each other how much we loved each other all the time.  When I would tuck the kids in bed (yes, even in high school!) I would say to them, "Out of all the kids in the world, how did I end up with the best ones?"  We tried to tell them "I love you" several times a day.  It was our thing.   I just adored our children, they were my life, we were prepared to dedicate our lives to them forever.

Now we are  blessed to still have Brooke.  She is the light of our lives and we are here for her every second of the day.  Say a prayer for her, she has been through so much and misses Taylor more than anyone could understand.

I don't think anyone can understand how much this changes who you are unless you experience it yourself.  I pray you will never have to.

trial and tribulations  / Lori Burgstahler (Mom)
 After the police delivered the shattering news about Taylor's demise I had to call his dad.  It was the most difficult call I ever had to make.  If you have ever lost a child, you know how terribly difficult it is to have to actually speak the words aloud that your child is dead.  When I called him that evening, it was probably around 11:30 PM his time.  I'm so glad he had picked up the phone, yet on the other hand, I wished I had never had to call. 

I remember crying in disbelief  while saying , "Taylor's dead! Our baby is dead! He drowned!"  

All I can remember is this gasp coming from the other end of the line, and then this loud tormented cry of incredulousness with a single word. 

"Nooooooooooooo!"

It was the saddest sound I have ever heard from my husbands voice.  The word  said with such  despondency and heartbroken heartedness  nearly split my soul in two.  
The deepest regions of my soul had already been ripped apart after hearing the shocking news of my son drowning, and now to hear my beloved's world being torn apart too was almost too much to bare. 



Next I had to tell my daughter Brooke.  I knew this wasn't going to be easy because the two of them had always been close, especially this year.  High school had bonded them even closer than I had ever imagined could be possible.
A few moments after I had told Brooke in person (when I called her, I didn't tell her what had happened, just that she needed to come home immediately) Donnie, his father Bill Stockwell, Nick Moschetta, and Mike Vaccarri came to the house.  As soon as I saw the kids, I went up to them and hugged them. I still wasn't sure what had transpired that lead to Taylor's death.  I didn't know if he had been fooling around and was pushed accidentally or if he had simply lost his footing and fallen.  I was devastated.  As I stood outside trying to figure out Taylor's last moments with Nick and Donnie, my good friend and neighbor Bob Trejbal pulled  his Range Rover into the  driveway across from our home.  I only remember  seeing him get out of his car, running up to him and screaming,

"Bob! Bob!"

"Oh my G-d!"   "Oh my G-d!"
"You have to  help me, please, you have to help me!" 

Poor Bob is completely bewildered by this sudden outburst of emotion from me and looks at me and says,

"What? What is going on?" 

You could hear how concerned he was in his voice.  With this deeply seeded anguish, I let out a tearful bellow and cried,

"Taylor's dead, Bob! He's dead!" 

With that sentence, I fell onto the ground and wept with the guttural sound of an injured animal. It  was at that moment I had lost all hope.  My baby was forever gone and I would live with this unbearable pain forever.  
I have never been through what really happened with the boys at the scene.  To this day I am unsure what happened and HOW it could have happened.  When you look at it, it seems impossible...





What so many people  ask is why did you move so quick?  


As if losing our only son wasn't enough, we had more trouble with our move to PA than we had had in any of our other moves combined.  First of all, the movers had been canceled without our knowledge so we had to reschedule and they couldn't find anyone to pack us up on such a short notice.  But at that time, we just wanted to get out of Dodge.  Brooke wanted to stay of course, but who could think straight at that time?  So they send some guys over to pack up our house.  Thank goodness we had our families there to help us out and guide us because at the time, I wasn't capable of insuring that things were being packed correctly.  If you have moved before, you know how important it is to make sure the movers pack everything well.  Having had several professional moves before, I knew that, but I just couldn't bring myself to release my son's cremation box. Which  I held onto it for days.  I even fell asleep with it in my hands the day we brought it home from the mortuary.  It was such a sad day. 





It took the movers several days to finish packing and loading up the truck.  During those last days, we had invited all of Taylor's friends to join us at the house.  We had people over 24/7.  I think Taylor's friends felt as lost as we did.  And we desperately wanted to connect with them for they were our only recent  connection left to Taylor.  They let us in on all the shenanigan's they were involved with over the past summer with Taylor. For a brief moment, we were allowed into the world of a teenager.  Not as parents, but as friends.  We will be forever grateful to his friends for letting us in.  And grateful to all the friends we made through this process and for the Desert Mountain High School and it's PTO because without them, we'd we lost. Desert Mountain High School, is by FAR the best school in the United States to handle this type of situation.  The administration has been a lifesaver.





I went into auto control.  I was completely blown away.  Here I am in a house that is about to be packed up, knowing I have to leave, yet not knowing where to start.  SO many people have said, "Why didn't you stay?" Because we couldn't.  Plain and simple.  It never occurred to cancel the sale of our Scottsdale home and the one we bought in PA. Besides, we needed to be together as a family.Pittsburgh Skyline At NightIn hindsight, we should have never left Scottsdale. We should never had even thought, for one moment, to take our kids out of high school where they loved going to school.  Unless your child asks to move, I would not recommend moving your kids during their high school years. You never know what can happen.

Brooke's new school on the other hand was a complete disaster!  We thought because the counselor that was in charge of Brooke knew of the situation personally (since her mother had worked in the same department as my husband) and we had gone into the school several times to make sure they were prepared to help Brooke, we were set.  We couldn't have been more wrong. Brooke spent the first three days in the bathroom, crying, all alone and no one even noticed she was missing!  Including her teachers, counselors and principals.  All of whom I had spoken with personally prior to school. They had completely dropped the ball on my daughter and it was all downhill from there. It was so hard on Brooke, the entire situation was completely unfair and just too much for a 15 year old to handle.  

Academically the school wasn't as strong as I had been told.  Come to find out it's because the principal had lied (and fired for it then rehired!) about the test results to the state!  The school was in disarray and looked like the most sterile environment I have ever  seen.  It looked like a mental ward in a hospital, not a school. There were no colorful rooms to encourage learning.  No posters, no words of encouragement hanging up, nothing. No show of school spirit - nothing.  The entire school and all the rooms were stark white!  The first week of school was Parent's Night and I cried the entire evening because I knew we had made a big mistake sending Brooke to Peter's Township High School.  But we were determined to make a go of it.

On top of all this, while our furniture was en route to PA, it had gotten caught in a rainstorm (in AZ!) and much of it was damaged.  So the first few weeks in the new house we had just a few pieces of furniture.  Over  the next three months, we gradually got our furniture back. The company had to keep it  because most of it was destroyed and was either being repaired or was being held for insurance purposes.  Great....

On a lighter note, our neighbors had heard about Brooke's ordeal and arranged a party for us so she could meet some of the girls at the school.  Our neighbor Terry brought her daughter Lauren, a cheerleader at Peter's Township High School and they became fast friends.  Whew!  Lauren introduced Brooke to many people and school was beginning to get better socially.  Although, the lack programs, unmotivated  teachers and poor administration had made no improvements. 

Even though Brooke now had friends, she still felt uncomfortable, as did we all, because not a single person had ever met  Taylor.  It made grieving extremely difficult.  How do you cry in front of strangers?

Not to mention, a week after we moved in, my nephew Ryan moved in with us because he was interested in getting a job in the advertising/music industry.   Ryan, a quiet 21 year old who had never lived away from home, was obviously very uncomfortable in this sad world of ours.  Can you imagine how difficult it must have been for him? For a young man to offer to stay with a family during the darkest time of their lives, to try to be of help, was such a tremendously courageous thing to do.  We are so thankful Ryan was around those first few months.

Brooke never left her room because she didn't really know Ryan very well and felt uncomfortable with a stranger living in our house. I could not cry because  I didn't want to upset Ryan. Our household was a sad ball of tension and grief.  Clearly, something had to be done.

We began to realize that Brooke was much happier in Scottsdale.  The parents of her friends were so supportive of her.  I credit them  100%  for seeing her through the darkest days after Taylor's death.  On one of our trips down to Arizona, we decided to let Brooke stay and go back to her old high school.  That was a smart decision.

Brooke stayed at her  best friend Andrea Mee's house.  Andrea's mom Vicki and dad Tim, were available emotionally for Brooke, something she desperately needed.  Thankfully they welcomed her with wide open arms.  The following weekend Brooke and I went house hunting (a difficult thing to do in a few hours!) because we had decided it was best if I  move down to Scottsdale so Brooke could finish high school at Desert Mountain. 

It's been nearly one month since we have been back and I can say with a happy heart, it was the right  thing to do.  Brooke is back to her old self.  Desert Mountain High School has been amazingly supportive to our family throughout this entire ordeal.  Her counselor Ted Skowron put Brooke back into the IB Program (the same one Taylor had been in) and even got her back into Student Government!  Now she's Junior Class President  (for next year).  Taylor had been Junior Class President at Desert Mountain High School also.  She's an incredible girl with a heart of gold.  I'm so very proud of her!

 We have decided to live in Scottsdale until Brooke graduates.  Brooke and I are in another state without her dad, he is totally alone in this huge house that our son never saw, no one even ever MET our son in PA!  So to them, as hard as they try, they don't understand the deep loss we have suffered. 



Groove (A Memorial)  / D. B. (best friend )
Groove (A Memorial) August 13, 2006

It's early Sunday and I'm up playing guitar and not being tired once again. I'll get the whole sleep thing down before I move out, but I've got a few days. I just was looking at the memorial website for one of my friends who died last summer and it all just kinda came flooding back to me how much I freaking miss this kid and how unfair it seems that people can walk this Earth every day and not commit to anything or amount to anything or even be good for anything but this kid lived his life in the most vivid and passionate way only to have that same life taken from him after 17 years.
 What's fair about that? 
Absolutely nothing. 
It's dumb too because I know it could've just as easily have been me if I would've gone camping with him the day after we ate lunch together for the last time. I was so glad to see him. It had been over 2 months and we just had sort of grown apart and out of nowhere I just get the feeling that I should call him and we should go out to lunch. We did, and we came back to my house and acted like idiots and played Halo (as usual) and then what happens? He dies in a tragic accident the next day. I mean. Seriously, how does something like that even happen? I mean, I love God and I'm going to make a my life a living sacrifice to him, but I just can't see how that judgement would be just in any way. I guess I'll have to live more to understand how something like that even happens. 
The weird part about it is, sometimes I catch myself wondering, hey, I wonder what Taylor's doing tonight? And then it all just comes back to me how good of a kid he was and how genuinely caring and passionate of an individual he was. I feel so bad for his family, I can't imagine what going through such a tremendous ordeal is like. He was a son and brother and he's gone. I feel like I shouldn't re-itterate that at all, but I think it's so important to remember him, because sometimes you meet bad people and you get dragged down into the dirt by people who don't care about you and don't care about life, and I want to remember him especially because he wasn't like that at all. I'm leaving for college in 3 days and I still feel 17, I think I'll feel 17 for some time. I don't know what college is going to be like not having that kid around to make fun of and make an idiot of myself with. I don't thank God enough that he sends people like that.
yortsite / Hadas (friend)
well, i knew this date would come but never thought of it. i'm in israel right now, and although its crazy here, most of my mind is occupied by taylor. 
i went to the wailing/western wall in jerusalem while i was here, its the only remanent of the huge temple that was in ancient jerusalem. its pretty much the holiest site in israel, and tons of people go to pray, and they write notes/prayers/wishes on little pieces of paper, and stick them in, hoping that god reads them.
i wrote about taylor. it just seemed fitting, and i felt content, as i walked backward away from the wall (you're not supposed to have your back facing the wall)
burgstahlers; you are always in my heart and mine and i will never forget taylor, wherever i may go. i don't think anyone can forget.

Brooke & Hadas Gold (Kevin Hassett in background) in Lake Pleasant the day we scattered some of his ashes into the water, July 2006. (Yes we know, but Taylor would have wanted it that way. Yes I know about "b. Sanhedrin 46b" )
Taylor was/IS an amazing kid - Read it in his own words  / lori burgstahler (proud mom )
I have been trying to locate lost pages of Taylor's "suchas this diaries" blog.

Today I found this on an archive page:


 irrational...                      May 10, 2004    

Listening to: irrationality of rationality-nofx

im sure ive written about this before, but even though im not a "punk" in dress or "action" , a very large amount of my friends fall in that "category" and its what i listen to (well, ska but same difference) and a lot of what i believe. switch gave me the nofx-war on errorism cd today to burn (its actually steves)and even though ive listened to all the songs countless times (alas, my best nofx cd was broken in half today by josh...darned leprechauns) i never had listened to this cd in order, i.e. on the real cd not a burned grouping of songs...
well, now that im taking the time to go through it, and listening to the lyrics, i cant help but think. its not good to say that any particular viewpoint is correct, but based on the facts that ive read about, been told, or seen, i think that a lot of the stuff they talk about is true. its also "exposed" an their other cds, on albums by bands who feel the same way, or just plain liberal thinkers...open up and check them out some time.
for example, one song speaks of how people get screwed over at work, at home, or by other people and how they react. not everyone knows how to handle all situations, and this just mentions one guy being fired despite being hugely successful and an overall good guy --"what keeps one from swallowing a shotgun?".--- the theres other instances, again in the song-- "dan, a company man, felt loyalty to the core. after 16 years of service, and a family to support. he actually started to believe the weaponry and chemicals were for national defense cause danny had a mortgage and a boss to answer to. the guilty dont feel guilty they learn not to."

Part 2 -
continuation of last...read previous entry before  this one    May 10, 2004

Listening to: irrationality of rationality-nofx

ok, this is the rest of what i was posting a minute ago------so read the previous entry before you get to this one
i try to get as much info a i can about whats going on in the world around me, and just by reading the lyrics of this particular song, and dissecting what their saying, im floored. people are beaten down, not given respect, and sometimes freak out. but everyone knows that. the only thing i have to say is the way we treat others needs to be seriously rethought, because its a direct reflection upon ourselves. i know im guilty of being an idiot at most times, but i try my hardest to do it all in good fun, and never hurt the persons feelings, hence maybe picking on friends but making sure they know im joking, and receiving the same in return.
i cant stand it when someone or groups of people just bash kids for no reason whatsoever. i think thats why im involved in all the crap i am, because its almost as though i want a hand in a lot of different things to see that each is run in a good fashion.
also mentioned on the cd is the downfall of values. (geez guys, sorry. i must sound ilke a diehard fan here...not that i dont like them but im in that kinda mood i guess)the one thing that peeves me more than anything is corruption, whether it be morally, in business or otherwise. like in our current government and especially with our "great leader". its horrible to think that someone we apparently elected (again..wont get into it) has the power to ruin the lives of so many. and its not that im blaming the state of the world on him, but its a factor nonetheless. i also understand not all of the decisions were his to make and that if youd like to believe it or not, bush is a figure head for a greater power in government. a company needs a person to handle relations, while the rest of the "employees" handle the dirty work. thats what our countries become at this point in history. i just hate seeing or hearing baout people who dont get what they deserve, whether it be just a simple pat on the back or recognition for a job well done. ack. then again, with all the crap going on now, its probably the last thing on peoples minds... but, more about that later, because those of you that know me personally are probably aware of my opinions regarding that... for those that dont, maybe another entry later. well, sorry for the anti climactic ending, but ive spoken long enough so im done. adios all
I miss you Taylor  / Mom

I miss you so much Taylor I can barely breathe.

 

You saved a life  / Lori Burgstahler Mommaburgh (mom)

You saved a life tonight Taylor. Thank you.

If I had not believed in your message of hope, support  and forgiveness, I would not have believed the email sent to me.

A man who was sorrowful and scared sent me and only me an email through this website.

I knew that he was serious because this  wesbite is different than the other memory-of websites. I don't have just pictures of l Taylor, I try to provide solutions and resources for those in need of help.  That is something my son would have done. That is something you had always done for others. You were always there. You always gave people the benefit of a doubt.

I listened to your spirit the other day Taylor and because I believed in what you taught me we saved a life.

It went like this:

I received an email from D. L. Hardy.  He wanted to end his life.  Many others told me it was just a hoax, but something inside me told me to take this seriously. So I did.

I called everyone I could think of. Suicide Hotline (they do put you on hold!) all the forums I could think of and finally my local police who knew me well enough to know I was serious and took this note seriously.  Together, we located him in another state and he is now getting the help he needs.

Thank you Taylor, he is alive today because of you!

To anyone else out there - I swear, I will try my best to see you through any hardship. We are in this boat together, we can make it together!

 Taylor truly is an angel!

I have so much to say  / Mom

I have so much to say Taylor.  I don't have time to finish it at this time because I have to go to work, but I wanted to start so that when I am back home I will have the time to finish writing.

I'm so disappointed Tay.  In people. Not my family, whom I love dearly, but people in general.  I wish I could find someone like you who seemed to be placed on this Earth to help others and to take all the bad that surrounded you and you would take it all in.  You topok others pain away, you literally took the pain away. Except now that you're gone, it's back. And this time, I'm afraid it's here to stay.

Why is it that no one comes by to say hello Tay? Why is it that no one takes the time to see how grieving parents are doing? It's not just us Tay, you know that. It's nearly every family I've spoken with that is effected by this. How difficult is it to hug someone Tay? How difficult is it to tell someone they look terrific?  I feel as though I am still trying to heal the world while at the same time, trying everything to keep myself alive.  Dad too. He's so sad, Taylor, he's SO sad.... I don't think I can heal him this time Tay, I don't think any thing will ever heal him. He loved you so much Tay, he loved you so very much.

Taylor letting us know he was at his 19th Birthday Party!  / MOM To Angel Taylor (mother)


On February 26th, we celebrated Taylor's 19th Birthday at Hansen Memorial Gardens near his plaque which is in the children's section next to the Angel of Hope statue.

The day before, after and on his birthday I was bombarded with signs. Before Taylor died, I never looked for signs from my mother (who died when I was a teenager) or from other family members or friends who had died prior to Taylor.

Since Taylor drowned though, I have seen so many unusual things that I seriously cannot just disregard them as coincidences.
Throughout this website there are several stories of some of the amazing things that have occurred to me. Religious dogma will have you believe that what is happening cannot be real. But too many things have occurred for them to NOT be true.

Here are a few more things that have happened:

The butterflies.

There are some days when the pain is still overwhelming for me. Taylor and I were close, very tight and we pretty much thought exactly alike of most issues. Especially politics and the way people are treated in today's world. I miss his conversations dearly. So much so that there are days when I go for a walk and cry for hours on end. When these days occur, I can always find comfort in the little butterfly that always seems to find me.

I'll be in tears and a butterfly will fly near to me, then land on the ground right next to me and stay. It will stay for as long as I need it to be there. Sometimes this can be for an hour or more. When the butterfly first came around I thought perhaps that maybe it IS Taylor, only because I have been told the significance of the butterfly as a spirit messenger. However, at first I thought the whole idea of Taylor being able to communicate through a butterfly was pretty strange. I figured I was certifiably nuts now. But the butterfly would only come by if I were crying. And the darn thing would not leave until I was finished with my tears.

After a few visits of the butterfly while I was grieving (rather loudly I might add) I started to talk to it. I figured, what did I have to lose? We had some long talks, that butterfly and I! Once when I was making my way down the sidewalk, I sat down in the sun to finished sobbing. Of course my little buddy was there, flying about. It grew warm so I took off the sweatshirt I had been wearing, which had been Taylor's favorite one, and as soon as I placed it on the ground, the butterfly immediately landed on it! And stayed for about an hour, listening to me pour my heart out!

After numerous visits from "Taylor the butterfly" I decided to "ask" him if he were really in butterfly form coming to comfort me. As usual, I was walking down the trail, crying my eyes out and asking g-d how he could do this to us. When, as expected, this colorful monarch butterfly came flying up behind me. I stopped for a moment, looked at this butterfly that had perched itself onto a branch nearby and I slowly reached out my arm in front of me. Then I asked him, "If you are truly Taylor, come onto my hand." I stood there thinking, no way. There is no way this butterfly is going to come land on my hand. With my palm up, and my eyes filled with tears, that tiny monarch butterfly flew off it's perch and landed right onto the middle of my palm! I swear I nearly fainted. But the shock was soon replaced with a feeling hope. A feeling of calmness that I hadn't felt since I had been told that my son had drowned.

Now, when I have a really bad day, I'll go for a walk and look for my butterfly, who never fails to find me. 
                                               


Another unusual incident was on Taylor's birthday. Brooke and I were sitting in the living room talking about how much we missed Taylor and about how funny he was. Taylor was hysterical. Every time he spoke, he made you laugh. He was so easy to love. Just we were talking about how much he made us laugh and how we wished he could be with us, this crazy looking pigeon came flying up to our front window and after hitting the glass rather hard (which made us laugh) stood perched on the outside of the widow looking at us with the funniest expression. Brooke and I knew immediately it was Taylor. The timing was uncanny, the look on it's face was undeniably a look Taylor would give and the way it hit the window and stayed, spoke volumes. After we both stopped laughing and said, "Okay Taylor, we see you, you goofball." The pigeon flew away. It was the one and only time a bird flew to that window. Coincidence? I think not.

On the day we celebrated Taylor's Birthday, many of Taylor's close friends came to give their respects. These kids are very important to our healing process and they never fail to show when we ask them to come somewhere. We are so blessed to have them around. Taylor's birthday celebration went off without a hitch and we wrapped up the evening and said good-bye to Taylor's friends. When they had left, all three of us burst out crying. We reminisce about Taylor's goodness and sweetness and yes, sense of humor and finally said our final good-byes and left for the evening. As we were driving home, at the first red light we came to, there right in front of us was a Red Mitsubishi Eclipse, with the license plate, AZSPIRIT. Taylor drove a maroon Mitsubishi eclipse! And there in front of us, Taylor was trying to tell us he was with us. In spirit. It was an amazing moment. 
                                             

The last crazy thing that has happened recently was with the video camera. Our video camera mysteriously broke in the middle of Brooke's Birthday party. I was taking video one minute and the next, there was no longer a picture. There was still audio, but no visual. So I put it away, thinking I was going to have to replace it.

Well, the day after Taylor's birthday I had an appointment with a medium named Melinda Vail. I was thinking I was going to have to go out and buy a cassette recorder to tape my appointment with Melinda, but remembered that the video still picked up sound.  I decided to use the video camera to record the session. To make sure the camera was still able to pick up sound, I tested it out first before leaving for my appointment with Melinda.  As soon as I turned it on, the date that showed up was 28 February 2005!  Taylor's last earthly birthday!  I was astounded.  I could not believe my eyes.  And to make things even more strange, just as I was saying aloud, "Oh my g-d Taylor, is this you?" The picture magically reappeared! 

Do I believe that Taylor had anything to do with the camera?  You bet I do.  And it brings me great satisfaction to know that he is strong enough to communicate with me still.  
 

Halloween / Mom Burgstahler (mom)

So much has happened since Taylor died.  I sometimes think I am going crazy, but I'm not.  Although all these experiences have me questioning my faith, I am trying hard to figure out if they have any
significance. 

I see Taylor. 
A lot. 
I sound like a crazy person when I say it aloud, so I don't tell too many people. At first I thought it was wishful thinking, then I thought I was just stressed, now I do believe I am seeing him. I don't "See" him like a normal vision. He's there, but more as a shadow or a faint version of himself. Usually He's standing in front of me as if demanding attention. Sometimes I think he gets a good laugh out of it and is waving his hands and arms in front on me as if to say, "Hello!" Hello, I'm right in front of you!."
Taylor is on the left, his body is larger in proportion to Brooke and Kevin.  Taylor's head is near Brooke's back.
I've had people say they have felt him near me and one person claims she actually saw him standing directly behind me. I don't hear him and it's frustrating to me because I can't  figure out what he is trying to say to me. 

Now I'm seeing signs. All kinds of signs. The butterflies when I cry that land on his sweatshirts I carry with me when it's cold out, or the butterflies (these are always monarchs and in the same place each time - like a particular part of the park.)or the butterflies that land nearby and stay put until I am done crying - which can last some 20 minutes or so! Or the butterfly that fluttered on my hand a split second when I asked it to land there if it were truly Taylor.

The darn things even stick around for pictures! 

Or the bright flashes of light, like little balls of light, literally shooting around my family room. Or seeing his number, the number 55 everywhere - like on jewelry! And how a couple of Brookes friends were searching for a peace sign necklace for her while they were in NYC but couldn't find one - until in the last store they went to they found the last one in the store (supposedly they were all sold out and the one found wasn't even supposed to be there!) was behind a pair of black enamel earrings - they were the NUMBER 55....

I "feel" him nearby. I feel him putting his hand on my right shoulder, always the right.
And when I went into his room in  PA and plugged in the CD player, it was a Ben Folds Five song that played - a song which we both loved (I introduced him to the band) and it's meaning was so sweet. As if to say, "I'm here."

Or the way it rains -- in Phoenix, Arizona -- it NEVER rains here! It rains every time we are doing something in Taylor's memory. It's as if he's crying tears from heaven. (IS there a heaven?) 

And the picture that fell off the wall - underneath the one still pinned up! I KNOW it was pinned, I pinned it myself, I saw the way the photo fell, it was moved by something. Or the image of him on several pictures we have taken. 

Or even the conversation he had with his friends on the ride up to the Reservoir - about how he believed in a soul, that it was the "gut" feeling you experienced and that he felt it would live on. He died two hours later. How often does that happen????

Or the picture from MacKenzie Thorpe - that I drew years ago before my son was born and had forgotten about 


until my husband said, "I have this piece of art I want to buy for you." 

And the fact that every time I take my dog for a walk outside, I find rocks, shaped like hearts. Nearly a hundred of them! One at a time. the more upset I am, the more I find.
 
Am I looking for these things? Is it all purely coincidence? What about the heart shaped oil stain that just "appeared" when I arrived in PA - it was near the kitchen door - the car can't get that close. My husband swears it was not there before I arrived.

I see shadows of someone walking on days it's pouring outside (When I was in PA)

Or the year before he died with the way I'd hug him and I'd say, "just a little longer, I want to remember what you smelled like." Or the way I'd crawl up next to him when he was napping to catch a snuggle and think to myself, "this won't last." I thought I was thinking those things because he would be going off to university in a couple of years - not because he was going to die! 

Or the way when I'd hug him and feel like I needed to "measure" his shoulders because , "I wanted to know where my hands would lie if I pretended to hug him from afar." I didn't  do that to my daughter, nor had I ever done it to Taylor prior to that last year. 
DID I SOMEHOW KNOW HE WAS GOING TO DIE????

How about the way I'd smell cigarette smoke in my office at home -- only no one smoked in the house and there was never anyone around when it happened.  It STOPPED the day he died.  Was it my mother or his grandfather warning me?  Was I supposed to see the signs?  Was I supposed to prevent this??? 

Or my vivid dream as he died.  And my feelings of, HE'S TRYING TO TELL ME SOMETHING. And I just don't understand.....

There have been so many things, too many to list. I want to believe it's Taylor.  But on the other hand, I feel that if it is, it's possibly because he died before his time and he doesn't want to go. Or can't...

If you have experienced any of this or you understand what I am going through, I'd appreciate an email. Thanks.


My dog Belle, laying on Taylor's ashes

Pictures of Taylor's spirit on a photo taken at the Senior Awards Banquet - AMAZING!  / Spirit Photos of Taylor! (mom)
I saw Taylor the other day, clear as day. He was wearing a white oxford with rolled up sleeves and a pair of khakis.  I haven't told too many people for fear they would think I was insane. Let me try to explain how the night played out.

At the Desert Mountain High School Awards Banquet, I sat with some very dear friends of mine.  I sat with Brian Hassett and his daughter Laura. They have been there for us since Taylor's tragic death. I was scared to go to this banquet because Brooke was going to be sitting onstage and my husband was stuck in PA therefore I'd be sitting all alone. But I when I saw Brian and Laura there I knew I would be able to make it through the ceremony.
The evening of the awards banquet at DMHS, I had a feeling, a kind of sensation that Taylor was with us.  I also had this feeling that if he was, he was feeling gypped.  As though he knew that had he been alive he would have won several awards also.  I could sense his disappointment. He seemed to miss his friends and was trying desperately to be "part of the group." 
As one of Taylor's friends made his way to the stage, I was certain I saw Taylor nearby.  I sat and watched as Taylor ran up behind Nick Jacobson and slapped him on the back - hard enough to make Nick trip on his way up the stairs.  There was no mistaking it, Taylor had slapped Nick's back and said, "Greeeat job Freddy!" and laughed as he did it.  And then I just had the sensation that he was still around, watching his friends, but feeling left out.
After the awards banquet, one of Taylor's best friends, Kevin Hassett (whom I lovingly refer to as my other son) waited for Brooke and I outside so we could talk.  Kevin has been hit hard by the loss of Taylor. Kevin as always been thought of as a part of our family and I feel this strong maternal need to include Kevin in our family activities.  We really love him.
While we were standing outside, Brooke suggested that I take a picture of the two of them.  Of course I said yes so I did.  But the strangest thing occurred.  All the pictures we took were all superimposed. This is a digital camera, that I've used many times before for night time shots and they have always turned out very well.  This time (as you can see from the pictures below) there appeared to be a fuzzy outline of  -- something.  When we looked at the preview of the picture, I said to the two of them, "It's Taylor!"  "Taylor's here with us because we wants to share this moment with the three of us."
See what you think.

In the first picture, you can see the image of Taylor standing to the front left of Brooke.  You can see the outline of his head directly above Brooke's white shoes. You can see the outline of his shoulders, chest and arms. He appears to be standing facing the camera. Same haircut as when he died. It's definately Taylor.
 In the second one  you will see the letter "B" and what appears to be an "orb." There is SO much energy around! Taylor is Kevin's guardian angel for sure!





Can you see the orb to the  right of Kevin's head? A medium (Melinda Vail) recently told me that Taylor is with Kevin quite a bit. He always considered Kevin Hassett as  a brother. We think of Kevin as a son. We love you Kevin!
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