You don’t know me, but my name is Mackenzie, and I know your sweet Taylor through our sorority. I feel a little silly writing this note almost two years after Taylor has left us, but one thing that Taylor taught me is that there isn’t a wrong time to show love. I stumbled across your blog today and in the midst of such a scary and heart-wrenching time in this world, your sweet stories of Taylor brought many smiles and more than a few tears to my face. You raised an incredible young woman, but you already know that.
I am a year older than Taylor, but I transferred to OU the year after my freshman year, so we both had our first year at OU at the same time. On the first day of my sophomore year/her freshman year, I found myself in the same Spanish class as Taylor, Katie Turner, Brynne Kurtz, and Meagan Frank. Taylor recognized each me because we were wearing Theta Bid Day shirts, and we immediately bonded together. I sat in the front row and she sat right behind me, with Katie, Brynne and Megan behind her. Our teacher joked that they were my little ducklings. We shared every morning (well…most every morning!) together in our Spanish 1 class that semester. There aren’t any specific memories that stand out, but I have such a strong memory of your daughter being an incredible light to everyone around her. She didn’t take life too seriously (this was a lesson I definitely had to learn through her!), she was kind – she was so, so kind - and she made those 8:30 classes much more bearable.
Taylor convinced me to try out for the Homecoming Dance that semester. Since I was still new to OU and didn’t have very many friends, I was very nervous and I told her I would only try out if she did, too. We both made the team, and we were next to each other in almost every single formation. She was always making jokes behind me and trying to make me laugh during practice. I have a habit of taking life entirely too seriously, and I think Taylor made it her mission to break me out of my shell. She succeeded. We bonded over many things – our high school cheer experience, our long red hair, the freckles that were all over our bodies, and our love for the movie The Parent Trap. At one point we even talked about being Hallie and Annie for Halloween. She sent me this video on October 11 that year. I sent it to her on October 11 the next year. I attached a picture from the homecoming dance performance to this email. I’m looking off to the side, but Taylor is in the middle, captured exactly like I always remember her – smiling ear to ear.
I remember in the days after Taylor died, I told someone that she was one of my dearest friends in Theta, but that I probably didn’t even rank in the top 25 of her closest friends – and I just mean that in the context that she had such an uncanny ability to make friends and connect with people on a deep level. To know Taylor was to love Taylor. She made everyone she met feel special and important. Although she was a year younger than me and I was supposed to be making her feel welcome at OU, she was one of the first people to make me feel like OU could be my home.
It takes courage to write a letter to an old woman you have never met. Mackenzie's mother raised a brave and beautiful soul.. Her courage causes me to want to do two things - write more letters to people who have made a difference in my life and lives that I love, and live a life worthy of being remembered and missed.
Can't you just see these two red heads as Hallie and Annie Parker.!
Thank you, Mackenzie. You are so good.