I have been putting this off for so long. I didn't want to have to remember all the details though I love the things that were said and done during this time. It's hard.
This week was the hardest week of my life. The hardest day too.
September 13, 2013 I watched my sister, brother-in-law, nephew, niece, parents, sisters, husband and children put our beloved Taylor to rest. It was the most heart wrenching experience of my life. I still have a hard time believing that Taylor is really gone. That I won't see his smile or hear his laugh or voice. My family and I loved Taylor so much. We loved writing to him on his mission. We prayed for him regularly. For his safety for his success. He will be forever missed. Never forgotten.
The funeral was truly a beautiful and spiritual experience. The front lobby to the church was filled with special memorabilia to remember Taylor by. Deidre had beautifully set up and displayed pictures of Taylor on his mission, playing hockey and with his family and friends.
I loved seeing Taylor's little "mexican guitar" there. Taylor bought this guitar on his mission and together with Elder Floyd they wrote a song about coming home and Taylor had been planning to surprise Deidre with the song and playing the guitar on his return home from his mission. Instead we were able to hear Elder Floyd play it for us. It was sweet.
We were also very fortunate to have Deidre's visiting teaching partner Christine, who is a photographer, there to be able to capture all these beautiful pictures.
Right before the family prayer we met with Elder Kent F. Richards of the Quorum of the Seventy. He spoke to us and brought us comfort. Honestly, I am not sure I have ever been to a funeral where so many people were touched by the life of a young man in such a short time. Elder Richards told about how Elder Richard L. Evans, an apostle, had died suddenly (on Nov. 1, 1971, at age 65), after being in good health. Elder Evans had been the voice of the Tabernacle choir's radio shows and was esteemed by members of the Church as a result. Elder Richards himself was his attending physician at the time of his death, and after he died he attended the funeral service. At the funeral, President Joseph Fielding Smith (then tenth president of the Church) spoke, and Kent F. Richards heard President Smith state, "No righteous man is ever taken before his time." He told us we can believe that in Taylor's life as well.
Trevor had put two of Taylor's hockey sticks out in the front foyer for people to sign and write messages to him in. I signed them and read what some other's had written as well. All the messages told Taylor how much they loved him, his spirit, his testimony and looked forward to seeing him again. Trevor placed those hockey sticks to rest with Taylor along with his name tag, sunglasses from Elder Floyd and his favorite hockey jersey.
It was very surreal as we walked in procession into the chapel.
My niece Danielle, the gorgeous Pocahontas, grew up with Taylor. She loved him like a brother.
The funeral service was perfect. They decided to have people from different era's of Taylor's life speak.
Deborah, my sister, was first. She spoke about how she was there when Deidre and Trevor had Taylor. How she heard him say his first hello into this world.
Dan, my brother-in-law, was second. He talked about how he remembered when the Ward's and his family all lived together for about three years. Taylor went on a job with Dan and asked if Bryce, Dan's son who is only a month older then Taylor, knew how to count to 10 in Indian (Dan is a Navajo). Dan told him no so Taylor spent the entire time with Dan learning it so he could tease Bryce about it later. Dan also shared something that Bryce had written home about when he heard of Taylor's passing. Bryce is currently serving his mission in Guatemala. This was Bryce's letter:
Taylor Shane Ward
I cannot express how heartbroken I am to know that I am not going to see my cousin, my brother, my best friend, Taylor Ward again in this Mortal life. He will always be in my heart as someone I love. He truly was a Missionary of God, and will forever be known as a faithful servant who endured to the end.
As I reflect on my past years that I had with Taylor, I cannot help but feel joy in my heart to remember the times that we spent together. We would jump on the trampoline, play 007 in the unfinished basement and throw pieces of ply wood at each other, we would tell the girls that the other was crushing on that the other was IN FACT crushing on her. Taylor and I had a nice rich history. We would play with our stuffed animals, and we would have the time of our lives, doing simple, childish things.
One of my favorite memories, was of our baptism. The spirit that we felt together on that day is something that I´ll never forget. Taylor was and truly IS a man of God.
He did not die in vain. How glorious is it to die in the service of the one who created, and gave you life? I have a firm testimony that Taylor is indeed sitting at the right hand of God, in a state of rest. He will remain in that state of rest, until the morning of the first resurrection. I know our father in heaven accepted Taylor into his arms joyously. There is nothing sweeter at this time, than our faith, that Taylor is in Paradise. His work here on earth was finished. It is finished.
When I found out about the accident, I broke down on the telephone to my Mission President. As tears ran down my face, the President comforted me, and reminded me of the Plan of Salvation. Oh how glorious it is for us to know exactly where Taylor is!
At this sorrowful time, I remind you of something that I read from the scriptures. In the Mormon, not sure what chapter, he is lamenting of the loss of his people, and he states, "...but alas, you are gone, and all of my sorrows can´t bring you back." When I read that, I realized, that no matter how sorry we are, we must press forward. We must continue to endure. Because as it states in Alma chapter 32, "you will not receive a witness until after the trial of your faith." At this time I beg of all of you who read this, to use this experience as an opportunity to learn more about the God who gave us life. Read Alma 40. You will receive more comfort from that chapter, than from just about any other.
I know that our father lives. Taylor is in a state of Paradise, and will be there, smiling down on us, until the resurrection. I am happy for him. He is in the presence of God.
There is a time for sorrow. It shows how much we actually love someone. Without love, we cannot feel sorrow. Jesus felt sorrow when he heard that his dear friend Lazurus had passed away. So much sorrow, that it caused a God among men to weep.
Taylor will forever be in the glory of God. I know he had a strong testimony. I know that he loved us. I love him. Christ loves him. Let us turn at this time to our God, rather than to cheap comforts of the world.
I love Taylor so much. I always will. My condolences to the Ward Family. You are in my prayers.
Wherefore, ye must press forward with a asteadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of bhope, and a clove of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and dendure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eeternal life.
I know Taylor will have Eternal Life. Let us honor his name, by doing that what he was preaching in Idaho. As Taylor did, Let us press forward, and endure to the end.
Dan ended his talk there.
Next we heard from Brandon, Taylor's brother, speak. Brandon touched me so much in his talk. Brandon said, when looking at the size of the audience, that there was a lot of love, and a lot of support there that day for Taylor.
He also said that in recent years he had realized how lucky he was to have his brother as his best friend. Other people at school talk about how much they hate their siblings and get in fights with them. But Taylor was his best friend, and he often thought about how lucky he was to have his best friend live with him, be with him all the time, and to be his brother. Brandon also spoke about how much Taylor loved hockey, but more than that he loved God and wanted to be a missionary.
The last part of Brandon's talk is what touched me the most. "Taylor loved hockey, but more than that he loved God and wanted to be a missionary."
Taylor's uncle Bob aunt Michelle and aunt Debbie (all from Trevor's side) spoke. Unfortunately during this talk I was so sick I had to leave. I had been sick to my stomach since I heard of the accident. Taylor was very very close with Bob and Michelle as they live in the Los Angeles area and would visit often. They don't have children of their own and have taken Deidre and Trevor's kids on as there's. The bond between them is very strong. Debbie only having met Taylor a few times had very fond memories of Taylor and loved him deeply.
Kyle Herout, Taylor's best friend, neighbor and hockey mate spoke. He talked about his love of Taylor and how Taylor was like a brother to him. He told a story of how one day in the change room everyone was changing getting ready for hockey when a mouse jumped out of Taylor's hockey bag. Everyone ran out of the change room screaming except for Taylor who chased the mouse with his hockey stick. He also spoke of how excited Taylor was to serve a mission and how he was a great example to him being that he isn't a member of our church.
Next was Mike Holmes, who was a coach to Taylor. He spoke a lot about Taylor's character. He said Taylor was choice above most. He was always so kind and thoughtful on the ice. You never heard a bad word come from his mouth.
We then had a musical number by some members of Taylor's home ward. The song was "Good Night and Good Morning." My mom told me Deidre thought it would be appropriate because it was sang at my Grandma Wright's funeral as well.
The next speaker was Sheri Haynes, she was Taylor's seminary teacher. She talked about how he was always there for seminary despite his very busy schedule with school and hockey. She talked about how excited he was to serve a mission.
Taylor's Bishop Romi Selfaison spoke as well talking about the great character Taylor had and the strong spirit.
The stake president, President Scott Bennett spoke. His talk was one that touched me to the core as well. He stood up and said he would keep this short and sweet. He said while interviewing Taylor he was evaluated for physical, spiritual, moral, and emotional qualifications and "passed them easily." Then he asked Taylor, "Why do you want to go on a mission?"
Taylor responded that when he was away in B.C. pursuing his hockey career he realized how much he loved and missed his family. He knew that if they just lived worthy of it, because of the covenants that they made in the temple, they could be an eternal family. He loved his family so much that he wanted others to have what he has - an eternal family. "That," he said, "is why I want to go on a mission."
Later at his setting apart, President Bennett embraced Taylor and said quietly in Taylor's ear, "Remember why you are going on a mission?" Taylor responded, "Because I love my family."
Trevor, Taylor's dad, then spoke. He thanked everyone for their support during this ordeal and he spoke about his love for Taylor and Taylor's love for church and hockey.
The last speaker was Elder Kent F. Richards. He told about how he had a cousin who died while on his mission. He was hit by a car while riding his bike. "Uncle" LeGrand Richards (he was Elder Richard's great-uncle), an apostle, gave his witness that that missionary was continuing his labors in the spirit world. Which is what we know Taylor is doing as well. He also spoke directly to Krista and Brandon. He encouraged Brandon to follow in Taylor's footsteps and to serve a mission and be an honorable priesthood holder. He told Krista to find a man to marry that would remind her of her brother Taylor. To find someone that looked like him and had a testimony like him.
Here Deidre is hugging Taylor's best friend, neighbor and hockey mate Kyle. To say Kyle was shaken up would be an understatement. He loved Taylor like a brother. In fact I believe most people that knew Taylor felt that way.
After the funeral I grabbed Deidre and embraced. I remember feeling her body shaking as she cried on my shoulder. It was a very tender moment for me. Later, I asked Deidre how she kept it together so well through the whole thing. She told me everything is a blur. She felt like she was just in survivor mode and can't even remember much of what happened during this time.
This is Brandon being embraced by Elder Kent F. Richards. I don't know what was spoken here but I know it was very comforting to Brandon.
This is Krista, Taylor's 12 year old sister. She was a pallbearer at the funeral. It was so sad to see Krista at the hospital in Pocatello, she was so sad to lose her older brother. She would tell everyone that she was going to marry Taylor when she grew up.
The pallbearers consisted of Taylor's brother and sister, Brandon and Krista, his cousins, Danielle, Brett and Mark, and his friend Kyle and coach Joe Rutkowski.
Dan gave a beautiful prayer dedicating the grave.
|Kyle, Brett and Danielle|
After the prayer we all laid flowers on Taylor's casket and said our goodbyes once again.
|Danielle and Krista|
I can't even begin to imagine what it would be like to lose your brother at such a young age. Your best friend.
|Brandon and Mark|
|Deidre and Trevor|
I love looking at these pictures and seeing two people in love, comforting each other over the loss of their oldest son.
My dad, Taylor's grandpa Wright. On travelling with my parents through this I have never seen my dad cry so much. On the trip to Pocatello dad said to me about his mother and father's funerals, "You know I cried at daddy's funeral and mother's, but none of that hurt like this."
Then on driving back to Alberta from California dad said to me, "you know, the Nails" dad has a silly nickname for every grandchild, "was a good lad."
My mom who seldom show's emotion was very upset as well. She loved Taylor so much.
|Brandon and Krista|
|The Clyde Family|
|Taylor's aunts, Karla, Darcy and Robyn|
|Taylor's cousins, Mark, Kaitlynn and Stephanie|
|me and Ryan|
|Uncle Chuck and Aunt Deborah|
|Brett's wife, Samantha|
|Aunt Michelle, Uncle Bob and Aunt Debbie|
|The Ward Family|
|Elder Richars, Ward Family, and the area representative for the church|
The people in these next two pictures were very special to all of us. Valerie and Blair Furniss are on the left. They were the family Taylor lived with in Blackfoot. Valerie told me that they day after Taylor died she was packing up his things and could hear his guitar playing his song he had been working on all night. She said she knew this was Taylor telling her he was ok. The couple on the right are Brother and Sister Andersen. They were Taylor's stake president in Blackfoot. He was with Taylor the night of the accident and shared that he knew Taylor was with them that night.
The extra woman here in this picture is Marietta Floyd. Elder Floyd's mother. She flew in from North Carolina to give support to the Ward family.
This wonderful family on the right are the Breggs Family. There son Michael was Taylor's MTC companion. They flew in from San Diego for the funeral. It was so kind of them to do that. They said that Michael loved Taylor so much that they were doing this to represent Michael and to show their love of Taylor.
This was a picture of our family after the funeral that Christine took. It was beautiful to capture all of us there together.
After the funeral we all gathered back at the church for a luncheon with those that were close to Taylor. The gym was filled with people. We watched a slide show that Trevor made of Taylor's life. It was beautiful but unfortunately something happened at the end and we weren't able to finish the slide show.
This whole time has been very emotional and spiritual. I am so grateful to know that if we live righteously we can be together forever. I KNOW that is what Taylor wants. I just pray that we can all endure to the end and make him proud of all of us. He is now our angel watching over us, protecting us. He is anxiously awaiting our return but until then he is busying himself in the work of God being a missionary in heaven.
Until we meet again Taylor. I love you.