I don’t want to write this column. There is no part of me that has ever wanted to write a column like this.
I always try to be brutally honest in these columns. I try to make people laugh, to make people think and to tell my story. But this is a column I never wanted to write. In this column, my heart will be bleeding on the page. You see Saturday morning I got a call that I never expected to receive. I was told that one of my dearest friends had died in a car wreck.
Before he was a member of the school board, before he was the president of the school board, before he ran for any type of political office, Dean Taylor was my friend.
He wasn’t just my friend, he was my best friend for a number of years. Until I married my husband, he was my go-to guy. I knew if there was anything in this world that me or my daughters needed, the “Taylor Boys” would be there, that second to help.
I know this for a fact because more than once he would rush over to this single momma’s house to scope out the neighborhood if I heard noises in the late hours of the night. He would come with guns loaded to protect me. He did this several times and he never once complained.
He would smile a crooked grin and talk me off the edge. Dean and I talked each other off the edge several times in our friendship because our friendship came at a weird time in our lives. We were both divorced and we needed someone. Not a married someone, not a dating relationship, we needed best friends. The ones you can tick off, royally, and then laugh about it the next day. The ones you can tell every awful detail of your day to and then they could make you laugh until you cried by poking fun at you. The kind who would come to the house at midnight because he wanted a homemade breakfast and he knew I would do anything for him. The kind who would pick up chicken salad sandwiches from Charlsie’s and drive up in my parking lot at work to declare it was lunch time and off to the park we would go. We needed that kind of a best friend. We found that in each other.
Dean would absolutely kill me for writing this column if he could. He would hate me bragging on him publicly, because although he loved the limelight, he didn’t like all of the compliments out in the open.
He was honestly, a private kind of man and didn’t want all of his business put out there. But he knew what he wanted; and I can tell you that if Dean wanted something badly enough, he made it happen. That’s the type of determination and work ethic that he brought to the school board and that’s the type of effort he put into everything he did.
If Dean believed in something, he would put every ounce of his being behind doing it right. He was the most determined man I have ever met in my life.
On a more personal level, Dean was hilarious. He could shoot a grin or wink an eye and I would be rolling, even from across the room in high-fa-luting meetings.
Dean and I even coached a T-ball team together. His son Bronson and my daughters were on the team and we named them the Gardendale Gangstas. Again, we were at a weird time in our lives and that name just seemed right for the craziness that we were living through. The kids thought it was a great name, so we stuck with it. Not sure that we ever won a game, but boy did we have fun.
I can’t tell you how many times I have picked up my phone to text Dean since Saturday. I can’t tell you how many tears I have cried or moments that I have replayed in my mind. I don’t see an end to this any time soon. Dean was a huge part of my life. He even actually encouraged me to marry my husband. He told me that we would be a power couple and he wanted that for me. Of course I told him I didn’t care anything in this world about being a power couple, and he laughed and said that was why he and I could never have made it together.
My husband and I laugh about that a lot.
Dean was spontaneous. About 2 a.m. one Saturday morning we decided we wanted to take the kids to Gulf Shores, so we put the kids in the car and drove straight to the coast. We played on the beach with our babies, loaded them back up in the car and came back home. He was that friend to me. We didn’t have anyone to impress. We didn’t have anyone to hold us back. We were going to make the memories we wanted to make and no one could stop us.
Dean was like a super hero at our house when I was single. My girls would constantly ask, “Momma, can we call Dean Taylor and make him come over?” They always used his first and last name and he absolutely loved that. I told him I would never find anyone to date me as long as my girls talked about Dean Taylor all of the time. Bronson was their best friend and it made our lives even easier to know that our kids loved having each other around. If there is anything that everyone knew about Dean, it was that he loved his son. There was no denying that.
Dean was a very special friend to me. I cared very deeply for him. I loved him. And now it seems completely unreal that I will never get to talk to him again. His life was cut far too short. He had such big dreams and plans. I was so sure he would be the only President of the United States that I knew on a personal level. We had already talked about how to run that campaign trail. But all of that changed Saturday morning. My world changed Saturday morning.
Please hear me, tell your friends and family that you love them today. You truly don’t know when the last time you will get that opportunity will be.
I would have never known that the last time I would talk to him would be him teasing me about my curly hair, weight loss and glasses and I’d be telling him to find him a good woman and finally settle down so she could start picking out his clothes.
There were so many more important things I would have talked with him about if I had known. I just didn’t know. And you won’t know. Have those conversations today. If there is something you need to say to someone, don’t wait, go ahead and do it. Life is short and we aren’t promised tomorrow.
I will miss Dean Taylor, more than I would ever like to admit. This pain will probably be with me for a very long time, but I know that he knew how much I loved him and how much I treasured our weird, fantastic friendship.