Let the Memory Live Again

I remember the time I knew what happiness was. Let the memory live again. ~”Memory” from the Broadway musical Cats

I am rarely unhappy. There are things in my life that I am working to improve, relationships that I wish had progressed differently, and even the occasional day of melancholy. I don’t ever feel a complete loss of hope. I sometimes have a bad day, but if I lay down and go to sleep the world seems bright and new upon waking. I suppose I am very blessed that way.

So, when I hear about someone killing him/herself it is extremely difficult for me to digest.

I have known a few people who took his or her life. Before today, the closest to me was Dr. Eddie Griffin who oversaw my student teaching and was an amazing mentor. He was dying a painful death and chose to leave this earth on his own terms. Although I have mourned him over the years, I understood his decision.

Today I learned that a man I have known since childhood took his life yesterday. Dr. Bob Taylor was a teacher and a student. He had one of the largest personalities I have ever encountered. I remember going over to his house and hearing him play the harp he taught himself to play. He played piano too and introduced me to “Memory”. I can still see him playing “When the Saints Go Marching In.” He was the first person I knew with a PhD. It made me want one too. People either loved him or hated him. There really wasn’t an in between. My parents were friends with him and his wife when I was young. When we’d go on vacation, he’d pull pranks like filling our bathtub/shower full of packing peanuts or planting a toilet with huge flowers flowing out of it in our front lawn. (Those things actually happened.) When I married, one of my bridal showers was held at his Victorian era home where his philosophy “If a little bit is good, a whole lot is even better” was well demonstrated. Grace Place was packed with things he’d acquired and loved.

I’m not sure what happened exactly, but my parents and the Taylors stopped hanging out. I was on my own by then and still landed firmly in the land of people who loved Dr. Bob. When I’d come home, I’d often stop by Taylor Gallery for a short visit. I even bought a few things here and there so that I could have a piece of his artwork. He leaves behind a huge legacy. There are kids he taught in the gifted program when he was a classroom teacher. He became a professor at Lander in the education department and impacted hundreds of pre-service and graduate level students and then their students who impact others. And that leads me to the thing that I just don’t understand.

I just don’t understand that kind of despair. How do you just give up on it all? I have had my heartaches and struggles. I have at times thought I was in a cave rather than a tunnel. I have never been there long enough to believe that my best choice was to cease living. I don’t understand how people can be in such despair and there not be help for them. How can folks who are so close to giving up live among us without us knowing and lending the hand that they need?

I sit here stunned and saddened. I’m just heartbroken that there are people who can’t see light at the end of their tunnel. If I have ever added a weight to the burdens you carry, please know that I love you and only want to be a support. There is no person I have ever met that I don’t love. So that means if you are reading this I love you and need you. Don’t ever ever ever give up. You matter. You matter to somebody. You matter to me.

5 thoughts on “Let the Memory Live Again

  1. Very eloquent words to describe a one of a kind man. I feel sure that there are many others saddened and in disbelief over this.

  2. Porter, at PETE&C one of the Keynote speakers had experienced a similar loss and asked the audience to stand up. Then he asked us to turn to the person next to us and say “I love you and value you and I like teaching with you”. Fortunately I was with a colleague who I do love to teach with and I got teary doing this. The point was to make sure you celebrate each day by telling people how you appreciate them.
    It had been a while since I told John how much I enjoyed being his teaching partner and I felt valued as he told me the same.
    My mentor teacher and I had a falling out over something stupid I did in High school. I know she helped me get into college an we grew apart because of my poor life decision. About 15 years later, I called her and we re-connected. God had this in his plans, as she passed away 6 months later of cancer. Her husband called me of all people to come and say goodbye and it was so meaningful that I did. Although she was not conscious, I spoke to her about many things including an apology, an expression of gratefulness I had for what she had done for me and how much she had influenced who I became as a person and teacher. I am sorry you didn’t have that chance, but it sounds like your visits were valued over the years with this man.
    The passing of precious people is a hole in our heart only heaven can heal. So I hope that I can be a mentor like she was to me.
    So Princess Porter, I love the enthusiasm and kindness you bring to each workshop, DENSI and any other event you attend. You are a STAR and I want you to know that I appreciate all that you do for our development, professionally and personally through the DEN! Love you Princess!

    1. Thank you, Robin for sharing your story and for taking time to tell me that you appreciate me. I love you too. I love how passionate you are about sharing what you have learned with others.

  3. Having lost a student to suicide at the start of this school year, your post has really touched me, Porter. I was in that dark place once (years ago, in high school), but by the grace of God I am here today! I can empathize with the hole this loss has left in your heart. I’m so sorry! And I totally love you and value you. I am so appreciative of all the energy and enthusiasm you bring to the DEN community. Thank you.

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