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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!
This song always makes me think of Taylor...  / Brittany (cousin)
It's called "James" by O.A.R. but I always sing it as "Tay..."

You said, "Young man, don't rely on a sword.
Cause your words will outlive even time."
I've counted my blessings.
The rest are for you.
Please listen close for awhile,
And breathe, breathe, deep for me (Tay).
Don't you feel that you're free now from pain?
I've heard about heaven for years.
Can't be sure where you are, wander on blessed (Tay).
I'm fine with you here.

I made the mistake once of fearing an end.
Is this life that we live just the world's accident?
Not a chance, so I move on with a smile. <--as Taylor would :)
Are you surprised where you are?
So breathe, breathe, deep for me (Tay).
Don't you feel that you're free now from pain?
I've heard about heaven for years.
Can't be sure where you are, wander on blessed (Tay).
I'm fine with you here.

I grew up slow on the heels of the rest.
Left my heart back at home, carried you in my chest.
And I don't feel like crying today.
Why can't we talk for awhile?
And breathe, breathe, deep for me (Tay).
Don't you feel that you're free now from pain?
I've heard about heaven for years.
Can't be sure where you are, wander on blessed (Tay).
I'm fine with you here.

You said, "Son, just listen to me."
But I'm doing fine, (Tay).
So you can sit back and just breathe.
And it's time now to let yourself go.
Hold us close, spin the dream, the curtain will fall but behind it
I see that you're here. 


This song, as well as so many other things remind me of my cousin. Sure this is a sad song, but no matter what it is that reminds me of Taylor... I always find myself smiling (through my tears). I still have a hard time looking at this website, only because it breaks my heart each and every time to see that not only do I suffer, but Taylor's immediate family, his extended family, his friends, and even passers by are touched, moved, and suffer over his loss. But I can guarantee this...
each and every person may very well leave this site in tears...
but they will no doubt have a smile on their face. It's just the kind of effect that Taylor always had on people and... will forever.

I missed Tay when he moved to Arizona... and I never got to say goodbye really... but I truly believe that I carry him in my heart. 
I love you Taylor... keep Aunt Lori, Uncle *** and Brookie strong.

Your crazy cousin- always and forever<3
many hugs and kisses from buffalo.
--Britt
Another sad  / mommaburg .. (mom)

'I'm so lonely without my son Taylor. It seems as though this year is so much harder to handle than last. Last year we had too much going on. Trying to get Brooke used to being away from her old school in Arizona. Pennsylvania was cold for her. The strange thing is, our neighbors were SO friendly! We were welcomed like family, it was as if I had known them all my life. 

Yet, the new high school my daughter went to was so cold and unkind. Sure, the kids liked her because she's so cute. But they were unprepared to deal with her broken heart because they had never known her brother Taylor. It wasn't their fault they didn't understand. But watching my daughter deal with such a great amount of pain was just unbearable. All at once she was trying to deal with moving a cross the country from warm and sunny Arizona to cold and gray Pennsylvania. 

She went from knowing where everything was to not knowing how to get to school! She went from a large school (3000 students) that adored her and her brother to a small school (500) students that didn't know who she was. She had new friends, teachers, school, house, doctors, orthos, dentists, even the landscape was different! She went from having it all to losing everything. All in the blink of an eye. Watching her deal with that immense pain was like watching my son drown all over again. Only this time in slow motion.

So here we are in Arizona, back to where it's hot and I have a friend who's grieving also. She understands, and I'm thankful for that. I have also been able to spend my best friends last days (Dave Craik died six months after my son.) while he was at Mayo Hospice.)  Our place is so much smaller here compared to the big house in PA, but I will do my best to make this feel like home. After Brooke's senior year (she graduates in 2008) we have to move back to PA.
   I feel guilt in every bone of my body though now.  Because Taylor never really wanted to move, he wanted to finish out his last high at his beloved high school. Yet I know my husband loves his job, it's his dream job - Sports! Also my family is back east. But Brooke should have gone with daddy and I should have stayed behind. For some reason I thought keeping the family together was the smartest idea, but I was so very wrong.

I feel guilty putting my son through that last year knowing that he was going to have to spend his senior year at a strange school. I feel guilty knowing that he must have felt scared and sad knowing he would be away from his friends. (Brooke, Taylor and I stayed behind in AZ for 8 months while my husband went a head to PA for his new job). How very selfish of me. Sure we thought it was a great career move and that the kids would be able to attend an east coast college and hopefully choose to live on the east coast so we could expand our family in the future. But still.....

I feel guilty for thinking that I'd see him tomorrow when he drove off to go camping and not hugging and kissing him more. I feel
guilty for not knowing that the "feeling of impending doom" I told my husband I felt that morning was actually a warning that I didn't not heed.  Am I responsible for my son's death? Was I supposed to stop it? Was it a test from God and I failed?????

I feel guilty knowing that my daughter feels sad watching her parents grieve. I watched my mother grieve herself to death when I was a teenager. My own mother died of a broken heart when her mother died and her family left her hanging.

My poor father he tried to raise us alone while battling alcoholism and working at a steel mill barely making ends meet. Now because of his bodily abuse, he has Alzheimer's. When I talk to him, he can't remember who I am half the time, nor who Taylor was. Which is so sad, because of all his grandchildren, mine were the closest to him. My son adored his grandfather! He's in New York and is almost completely deaf. He has a hearing aid that on good days when I call, he can hear me and we can talk a for a few moments. He's a very sweet man. If there is something after we die, I hope my father and Taylor will be able to see and remember each other.

 Even though my dad is sick, he's still the funniest man I know. I miss him too. I'm trying to be strong, but there is only so much a person can take.

I have lost so much and feel so alone in this world. I know Brooke loves me and that helps me going. But I feel awful that she feels that she has to work so hard to make us happy.  Does she not realize that just knowing that she's still breathing is enough! I wish she understood that it's normal for a child to be independent, and that parents always love their children more than they ever loved their parents.  If she ever has children someday, she will then understand.  She deserves a happy, full and exciting life.  She's such a kind child, she wants to be friends with everyone. I'm so proud of her. G-d, I love her so much too, I have always loved my children more than life itself. Always.

Taylor and I were very much alike. Two peas in a pod. Now that pod is broken and it is left to rot with only one pea left. I miss Taylor so much. I miss him so very much.

I wish I had died instead. They say that God never gives you more than you can handle, but this is definitely more than I can handle.

I'm trying to write a book about how parents REALLY feel, yet I can't seem to come up with a happy ending.  What is the happy ending? That you actually succeed in living out another day, that you didn't go through with killing yourself that week? That you'll find joy again - but never be as joyful as you once were. That the only way to "move forward" is to "forget the past." How can I possibly forget my son???

But I've talked to thousands of parents and the majority of them feel the same as I do. Even those who have lost their child, 10, 20 or 30 years ago.  The ones that seem to heal the fastest are the young ones that can have more. But what about us? What about the ones who can't???? How can we possibly bare another holiday without our children?  Thank g-d I have Brooke, she is my lifeline. She is the only reason I pretend I'm okay, I can't lose her too.  If I did, I would not longer breathe to live, it would be too much, I would have to die.

I have to find the "hope to write in my book," but if I have no hope in ever finding happiness in my own life, how do I help other parents? Lie to them? Like all the other books out there do?  I'm known as an optimist! I must find a way, but I little joy in my life right now. Brookie is far away (which is probably best for her) and yet I worry my husband won't be able to survive this, how could Brooke handle that too?  So I have to stay to see them both through, but what if I can't make it? Who makes the pain go away for them then? Who, g-d? I'm afraid the big guy hasn't been around much in my life, I guess he was busy looking after peole who had easier lives....

Do me a favor, if you see a grieving parent -Don't turn away!  Walk right up to them and say, "I'm SO sorry." and then HUG THEM TIGHT, AND HOLD ON.

That just might get them through another day.

 

**** The Phone Call *******  / Lori Burgstahler (mommy)

Many people have asked that I tell the story of my dream I had at the same time - unbeknownst to me, Taylor was in the Blue Ridge Reservoir, drowning, dying, all alone, cold and helpless, begging to live, even if only through a dream. 

Taylor and I have always been close.  Having similar personalities and temperaments, Taylor and I always seemed to think alike. 
The morning of the fateful camping trip, I had felt unusually tired.  Tired doesn't even describe the feelings I had - weighed down was more like it.  I felt like I was wearing a suit of heavy armor, and I could barely move.  I thought I was just feeling overwhelmed knowing I had to help the movers pack up the house in one week. 
Now I realize it was either someone or something preventing me from being near my son, or a very strange warning that, regretfully, I didn't seem to comprehend.
  
When Taylor had first asked if he could go camping, he had requested if he could borrow the Pacifica because Donnie's truck was not in working condition. 
I said, "No, Taylor, I don't think so, I don't think that's a good idea Honey." 
Half hoping that if they had no feasible means of transportation, he would make the decision to stay home.  Unfortunately, the boys were hell bent on going and decided to repair Donnie's truck that morning.
 
 A few moments after telling Taylor that if they could get Donnie's truck going, they could still camp out, my husband called. 
I told him, "I feel terrible today.  I just can't get rid of this feeling of impending doom." 


He responded by telling me I was being a "real downer" and said he'd call back and talk to me later. 
*** remembers talking to Taylor about it, and even Taylor couldn't figure out why I was so bummed.
  Now - I know. 
Somewhere in my subconscious, I KNEW that morning would be the last time I'd ever see my beloved first born and only son alive again.  What happened in the next few hours would turn out to be the extraordinarily heavy burden I carry around with me to this day.

When Taylor came to let me know he was leaving, I was showering and barely had the opportunity to say goodbye. 
I hollered out to him through the double doors of the bathroom, "I can't come out Taylor, I'm showering." 
He replied, "But we need to leave now." 
I yelled, "Okay,I'll be out in a minute." 
I could tell from his silence, he was in a hurray, so I did something I regret to this day, I shouted out to him, "Ok honey, have a good time, I'll see you tomorrow.  I love you. Goodbye"
I never got to tell him goodbye, not really, not like we usually do.

I heard the front door shut downstairs just as I was getting out of the shower.  In fact, he never even saw me running out the door hoping to catch him as he drove away down the street.  For the first time in our entire lives, we had not hugged and kissed goodbye. 

That morning, Taylor called from his cell phone to inform me that there would not be any cell phone  reception up in the mountains. I wasn't crazy about that idea, and in fact; had I known that, I probably would not have let him go.  We said we loved each other and hung up.  It would be the last time I'd ever speak to Taylor.


That afternoon, I was still feeling this unbearable weight upon my body and decided to lay down for a short while to try to get some rest hoping it would refresh me.

Around 2:30 PM, as I laid on the burgundy and gold colored couch in the family room, I had what I refer to as a 
'wake- dream.' Some people call it a vision. To this day I can't be sure I was asleep. I'm pretty sure I was fully awake. Either way, what happened next made even me feel uncomfortable.

I had this "dream" that Taylor called me from his cell phone screaming, "Mom! Mom! I need to know how to do CPR! I need to know how to do CPR!" I could see him screaming hysterically into his cell phone next to a lake.  Although I had no idea "who" needed the CPR performed on them,   so I proceeded to talk Taylor through the motions.I could see what appeared to be a male figure on the ground. I could see the trees and the brown ground. But I couldn't tell who it was that was laying on the ground. 


I remember telling him in my dream, as he was performing CPR on the unidentified body, "It's okay honey, you're doing fine. You're doing a great job. You've got it now, you can finish this on your own. I remember telling him that if the person throws up to just turn their head to the side, and take off his shirt and wipe out their mouth. I knew how that would make Taylor feel sick. I felt myself with him. It was wierd, I was talking on the phone with him, yet I could see everything happening as if I were there. " 

I remember saying to his much relieved face, "You keep administering the CPR, and I'll get Brooke to call for help from her cell phone." 

The next thing I remember thinking was, "What a terribly morbid thought." 

Little did I know it was a cry for help from my son.  Evidently, one of the boys tried to help him, the other ran away to look for help.  Which never really came and Taylor drowned while poor Donnie tried help him. And Donnie being an accomplished diver, probably would have been able to, except for the actions of an unidentified volunteer fireman who prevented Donnie from trying to find Taylor underneath the water. The fireman instead, offered a "stick" to "poke" at the water with. Basically, that fireman let him die. How very sad. What our family has such a hard time comprehending is how could he have hit his head while going into the water, and why, if there were "loads" of people around in boats and other fishermen, why had no one else tried to do anything? Certainly if he had just fallen into the water, even if he was sinking, certainly more than one person could have helped. And if help had arrived, with the water being cold, Taylor could have been revived up to 20 minutes or more of being under the water. This was in the middle of July - not the winter! None of it makes sense.


After my vision, I scolded myself for even thinking such a thing and tried to relax again. I didn't realize it at the time, but either Taylor was somehow communicating with me to say goodbye, or it was a very frantic and desperate cry for help.  He was calling his momma like he always did.  Taylor never let me worry, he always called to let me where he was. We had a rule - I needed to know where he was at all times so if there was ever an emergency and I needed to contact him, I would know the last place he was so I could find him.  Wow.
 
Taylor ALWAYS called. Ask anyone, Taylor called his momma several times a day.  Later that evening around 7:03 PM, I telephoned Taylor on his cell phone totally unaware that he had drowned hours earlier. I left a message on his phone telling him I was worried that I hadn't spoken to him in a while, and that when he got my message, to give me a call.  I had absolutely no idea that my son was already dead!

In fact, it was 6 hours AFTER he drowned that I was alerted to the fact that he was "missing." Why they did not alert us immediately is a mystery to us. 

Sometime around 8:30 PM a Scottsdale policewoman and the local office psychologist came to our door.  As soon as I saw his badge that had his credentials listed, I knew something terrible had happened to someone I loved.


The psychologist asked me if my son was one of three boys who had gone camping up at Blue Ridge Reservoir earlier that day and I knew right then and there, that my precious son was dead.  I  replied that my son had, indeed, gone camping.  He quickly added that there had been an "accident"  that Taylor had lost his footing, slipped down the rocky ridge and had fallen into the deep, murky, and very cold water.  They were looking for him, he claimed, at that very moment


I inquired of the man, "How long has he been "missing" since the "accident?"
When he told me the "accident" occurred sometime around 2:30 PM, I knew immediately that my baby boy was dead.  
I knew from being a cop myself years earlier, that they didn't send the psychologist if they assume the child is going to be fine. 
I also felt it was common sense that a person who had fallen into the water and they cannot be found within 6 hours, that it is most probable that the person is deceased.  I knew it, I felt it, I just knew my  sweet, gentle Taylor was dead. 

And so begins the start of our nightmare.  It took the recovery team two days to find his body. It was the longest two days of my life. 

i love you tay  / Brooke Burgstahler (sister)

its been really hard for me to look at this website. i feel terrible about not writing right away but its been really hard. i miss taylor so much sometimes it seems like hes here. i remember the day before he went camping faune came over and so did nick nick and well.. nick.

we all were hanging out and somehow taylor and the guys convinced faune and i that if we made pazookie for them, or what they liked to call pashkjgfdy, and bought all the supplies, that they would go get it. so faune and i agreed. we gave them the money to buy the cookie dough and ice cream, we made it, and they ate it. then about 15 minutes after they had devoured it we realized that we spent our money and time into making them food thinking we were getting some deal. ohhh girls. haha.

ive had almsot 15 years of my life with taylor and have so many memories to cherish i just wish i had more to come. he was the best brother ever.

 i miss you taylor.

Graduation Day  / Mom (mother)

As I sit here in tears, thinking back on how excited and proud we were going to be about Taylor graduating, all I have now are questions about what really happened the day he drowned.  None of the pieces fit and I can't get rid or the gnawing feeling that something is not right.  Taylor didn't have to die, he shouldn't have been left in the still cool waters of the Blue Ridge Reservoir to die. There are no excuses for what happened to him. Taylor's death was unwarranted, and everybody knows it. I somehow can't help feeling that no one WANTED to help him. That he didn't die on accident, but rather at the unkind hands of someone with a devilish soul.

Poor Brooke, who has had to try to flourish and rise above Taylor's perfect record is so sad and so very much alone today because not one single friend has bothered to call her, hug her or tell her that they are proud of her and that they are thinking about her and her brother Taylor. How cruel and unfeeling must the kids of today's generation be that they refuse to acknowledge a friend's most difficult moment.  That a parent wouldn't take 30 seconds out of their day to remind their child that perhaps, Brooke, who has always been there for everybody else, might possibly need a little support for once, because today of all days, is a huge reminder of everything she and her family has lost.

But being Brooke, ever the strong silent one when it comes to her true emotions, will instead, keep her head up and pretend that everything is fine and dandy, when in reality her heart is bleeding as much as her parent's.  Can you imagine, going from a family where you have a sibling to being an only child? She not only lost her brother, but she lost the family her grew up in because the family dynamics have changed so much, that what she once knew as her family, no longer exists. It's been much harder for her than anyone realizes because she would never even THINK of troubling another person with her own grief. Like Taylor, Brooke has always been the kind of person to put others before self.

What people don't seem to get, is that just because time slides through the hourglass of life, the lives of the families left behind from the sudden death of a promising teen are held in suspension. We are all teetering between llife and death. Life because we want to live, but death because we so desperately want to rejoin our lost family member.

We smile even though our hearts are swelled with tears, no matter how happy and proud we are of our brave Brookie, there is the constant torment that she is ALONE in this - she is missing something - things are NOT okay for her today. She feels it very deeply that her brother is not there to join in the festivities and to tell her how proud he is of her.

So if you happen to fall upon this site today, please send out a prayer of strength for Brooke, because she is going to need it.

 

For your 20th Birthday Taylor  / Lori Burgstahler (mom)

It would seem fitting for me to go out and place flowers at your grave, or buy an ad in the obituary in remembrace of you for your 20th birthday. However, your family has written ME the most lovely letter ever. Usually it's me trying to find the lastest gadget for you Taylor, but this year you gave to me. Once again, you are sharing your gift of love. Thank my sweet son, I miss you ever so much.

Love,

Mom

Here is the gift Taylor made sure we received and it is the best gift I've ever gotten -- even though it's technically Taylor's birthday.

Dear Guy, Lori and Brooke,

Another year passes and still the heartache for your loss and our family's loss is still so painful it doesn't seem possible. Taylor....when I say his name is seems so unbelievable. We want you to know how much we miss him. We miss his humor, his shaggy hair, his gentleness, his appetite, his goofy faces he made when he played with his cousins, his deeply expressive eyes that would pierce you when he was serious, his crazy Halloween costumes, WWF, sledding, birthday parties and his spirit of life.  I see him so clearly and yet I know he's gone.  I don't know why, I'll never understand.

I want you to know that we loved him like our own. I think you did such a great job with Taylor. He was truly and angel on earth.  Our hearts and lives will always be broken because he will not be with us, but his essence and spirit will. I know he would want you to stay strong and stay hopeful in the knowledge that someday you will be together again.  I truly believe this. All of you have shown such great strength and you are admired by all of us.  He will never be far from our thoughts and our prayers. We loved Taylor just as much as we love each of you. Stay strong and hang on to your faith.

With love and respect,

Aunt Denise, Uncle Bob, Ryan, Brittany, and Austin                  

Aunt Becky, Uncle Jeff, Sara and James                                                                                            

Grampa

This is what family is all about. We had a very close family didn't we Taylor?  And you are making sure that even though you are not here Tay, you are still reaching out and guiding all of us to be better people.

I was blessed to have you as my son as I am blessed to have a family I can go to in times of trouble. Thank you for this gift on your birthday. That is so like you Taylor, to think of others before yourself. Thank you for that. I miss and love you dearly son

For your 20th Birthday Taylor  / Lori Burgstahler (mom)

It would seem fitting for me to go out and place flowers at your grave, or buy an ad in the obituary in remembrace of you for your 20th birthday. However, your family has written ME the most lovely letter ever. Usually it's me trying to find the lastest gadget for you Taylor, but this year you gave to me. Once again, you are sharing your gift of love. Thank my sweet son, I miss you ever so much.

Love,

Mom

Here is the gift Taylor made sure we received and it is the best gift I've ever gotten -- even though it's technically Taylor's birthday.

Dear Guy, Lori and Brooke,

Another year passes and still the heartache for your loss and our family's loss is still so painful it doesn't seem possible. Taylor....when I say his name is seems so unbelievable. We want you to know how much we miss him. We miss his humor, his shaggy hair, his gentleness, his appetite, his goofy faces he made when he played with his cousins, his deeply expressive eyes that would pierce you when he was serious, his crazy Halloween costumes, WWF, sledding, birthday parties and his spirit of life.  I see him so clearly and yet I know he's gone.  I don't know why, I'll never understand.

I want you to know that we loved him like our own. I think you did such a great job with Taylor. He was truly and angel on earth.  Our hearts and lives will always be broken because he will not be with us, but his essence and spirit will. I know he would want you to stay strong and stay hopeful in the knowledge that someday you will be together again.  I truly believe this. All of you have shown such great strength and you are admired by all of us.  He will never be far from our thoughts and our prayers. We loved Taylor just as much as we love each of you. Stay strong and hang on to your faith.

With love and respect,

Aunt Denise, Uncle Bob, Ryan, Brittany, and Austin

Aunt Becky, Uncle Jeff, Sara and Jamessp;  

Grampa

This is what family is all about. We had a very close family didn't we Taylor?  And you are making sure that even though you are not here Tay, you are still reaching out and guiding all of us to be better people. I

 was blessed to have you as my son as I am blessed to have a family I can go to in times of trouble. Thank you for this gift on your birthday. That is so like you Taylor, to think of others before yourself. Thank you for that. I miss and love you dearly son.

Love,

Mom

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