She was five years old with big brown eyes, dark hair and a smile that lit up the room when I first met her. I was nineteen and had newly arrived to Delta Junction, Alaska. She was attending the preschool class at First Baptist Church where I was teaching and was cuter than cute as she stood beside her four year old sister, Janis, a blonde with blue eyes.
It wasn't long until Tay's mother, Elizabeth and I became friends and as the years brought joys and trials our friendship grew to the point that I began to call Liz my "best friend". Liz and I worked together at the Legislative Information Office in Alaska, we went to church together, we quilted together and we visited in each other's homes. As Tay and Janis got older and my own children came along, they provided babysitting services for Josh and Alissa when I needed them.
Distance separated us physically from time to time but did nothing to hinder the friendship of the two families and what a thrill it was for me when the Sarver's ended up moving to Virginia where I had moved a few years earlier, allowing us to live in close proximity to each other once again.
Three and a half years ago, when Josh died, the first person I called that early morning sometime after I received the call just after 2 am, was my friend Elizabeth. She never hesitated but left the comfort of her bed and home and made the hour and a half drive to our home. She stayed with me as long as I needed her and without her presence, I don't know how I could have made it through those first hours as we waited for my son to be taken off life support.
You can imagine the devastation I felt when I heard of Tay's illness and I knew the pain I was feeling was nothing to compare to the pain that Liz, Mike and Janis were feeling. Each trip that we were able to make to visit with Tay while she was ill was such a blessing. The purpose was to go and be a blessing to Tay and to the Sarver family but instead, I went away feeling as if I had been blessed. Each time Tay would see me, her face would light up with that familiar smile. If you know Tay, you know the smile of which I speak. It was the smile that was not reserved for just one person, and in fact included all that she loved. However, when one was the recipient of that smile, one felt as if they were the center of Tay's universe, for her smile made us all feel like we were the most important person on this earth.
During her illness, Tay never complained. Not once did she cry for herself, ask God "why", or question His purpose. On the contrary, she comforted her family by saying, "It's ok. We have God. He will take care of us." Her faith was beyond compare and she left this world with confidence knowing that her Heavenly Father was running to her with open arms to receive her into His kingdom. Even when the pain was intense and her body began to fail her, she never complained.
I do not think that it was an accident that our Heavenly Father took Tay home during this most Holy week. This is the week that He gave up His own Son and watched him die a slow, agonizing death on the cross. We can be comforted in knowing that our God knows our pain as intimately as we know this grief and He seeks to comfort us at this time if we will but collapse into His arms and share with him our pain. Today, on Good Friday, we remember the death of God's son as we also remember that Tay is no longer with us on this earth. Sunday, we will celebrate the Resurrection and because of Easter, we know that one day we will be reunited with Tay.
We say goodbye to Tay's earthly body which is the body we love so dearly and miss so badly that we don't know how we will ever make it without her. But we, through faith, know that her soul is forever alive and knows no pain or suffering but is instead complete and fulfilled. And here on this earth, we will keep her spirit alive by allowing ourselves to let her spirit of kindness and love flow through us as we remember her. She is always with us, for she will forever be in our hearts.
|Tay with Casey, the Corgi we were able to find her when she said she wanted a companion dog.|
|Tay and Janis|
|Tay with her four year old son, Austin.|
|The Sarver Family: Liz, Tay, Mike and Janis|
|My daughter, Alissa with Tay and I.|