Freshman year. TCU. Hot. August. First day of college class ever. Statistics, yuck. I go in very anxiously and find a random seat because if you remember, at the time I knew no one. This very nice looking girl comes and sits next to me. She gets all her things out, very organized and looks ready for the first day of school. Even has on her TCU Chi O shirt. I remember thinking, “I have to make friends with this girl. My mom will love that I have a Chi O friend.”
We make small talk assuring we are in the right class room and then the very tall professor comes into class and starts. Shortly into this introduction he suggests we turn to the person next to us and get his or her number that way we can begin to form study groups. Who even knew that was a thing? (lol) I turn to the same girl and she says:
“Oh hi, by the way, my name is Taylor.”
and I said,
“Oh yeah sorry about that, my name is Cade. We should exchange numbers because I have a feeling this class is going to be a struggle.”
We exchanged numbers and she put “Taylor Helland (Stats)” in my phone as her contact, which is still there to this day.
And just like that, God placed one of the biggest blessings in my life.
Taylor would miss class almost every other Friday. She would always text and asked what she missed and I would tell her. I always thought it was a little strange, but who was I to judge. It took a little while before I learned Taylor’s story. She was missing class because she was receiving treatment every other weekend for the cancer that she had been battling for several years. I remember being so shocked that someone so normal could be fighting cancer and doing freshmen year at the same time. It really put things in perspective for me.
And ever since then my friendship with Taylor has grown. She and I were majoring in the same thing so we saw each other often. I did not know a lot about Taylor’s life outside of her cancer, chi o, and the little things she would tell me about her family and friends, but y’all her passion was incredible. She wanted to work in PR and help children that were going through the same fight. The longer I knew her the more I was amazed. She had a gift. Taylor told her story to so many people because she knew that she could help. She eventually had her own slogan: “Choose Joy” and she lived that out everyday better than anyone I had ever met. On days where she received bad news… she somehow found joy. On days she received good news… she radiated joy. It amazes me that God placed her in my life so soon into my chapter here at TCU. Sadly, Taylor went to be with the Lord on Saturday. Though she is now happier than ever and pain free… praise God for that. I never told Taylor this, but her story and her drive often gave me the encouragement, confidence, and passion to be Southern and Thankful. There were days that I remember thinking, “If Taylor can find joy in every aspect of her life, I can find something to be thankful for.” I will so miss Taylor, like many, but I am so encouraged by the fact that she has left has a tremendous mark on so many and in this community and world. I only wish I could have gotten to know her more and work with her like he talked about back in the day.
Last February, I was invited to Chi O crush, which is an anonymous event for guys where a chi o invites you secretly. Sometimes your date will tell you who they are, but I went to the event not knowing. After the event Taylor texted me saying that she had invited me to crush. I loved everything about that. Taylor has such a great boyfriend, but she had two invites so she invited me also. I, of course, thanked her so much and said I honestly didn’t believe I would get invited. She replied and said, “Cade, don’t be silly. Everyone loves you and we all wanted you there!!”
Taylor, my friend, the same thing can be said to you right now. Everyone loves you and we all wish you were here. But I think knowing how joyful you are up in heaven makes us all a little more joyful. I will never forget your gift and the impact you had on me from the very beginning. I thank you for being the first person to buy a Southern and Thankful tee, the first person to sit next to me in a college class, and the first person to teach me the true importance in choosing joy. I know many of us will be happy to carry on your legacy. Until we meet again, stay thankful my friend.
Please keep in mind Taylor was a daughter, a sister, a girlfriend, a chi o sister, a patient, a dog owner, a big, a little, a classmate, a student, a believer, a member, a speaker, a friend and so much more to so many people. Many need prayers during this hard time as I know it has hit this community with a blow to the heart.
I will be forever thankful for that first day of class where I met the most remarkable girl for the rest of my life. I am thankful for Taylor Helland and the joy she will always bring me.
To help fund Taylor’s past medical expenses and funeral expenses please visit: https://www.gofundme.com/yhq5ukq4
Southern and Thankful