As Dave Taylor has been in the hospital since last Thursday, September 16th, with minimal bouts of consciousness, I have offered to humbly guest author his column for this week.
If you’ve read Dave’s columns over the last few months, you’ll find me mentioned throughout, although there was one edition, August 18th, he made me the subject of. In keeping with the overarching theme of our courtship, this beautiful dedication was a surprise to me, even though we have spent almost every minute together since April 13th.
Life is full of surprises, isn’t it? You’ll often hear people say they don’t like surprises, and I tend to believe they have lived a life much like mine, where surprises have often been traumatic events, not birthday parties and floral deliveries.
Dave was certainly a surprise to me last year on October 10th when he messaged a FaceBook profile I had established to support my role as a co-host on a podcast produced by a steadfastly growing entertainment company based out of Indianapolis. As of today, my profile has over 4,000 “Friends”, most of which are men I’ve never met.
At the time, I was inundated with messages from men. These messages were often “You’re hot”, “Beautiful eyes”, or “What’s up?” For obvious reasons, I didn’t respond to and didn’t feel complimented by this kind of attention, although I knew it was part of the deal. After all, I was a woman in the entertainment industry.
These messages blurred together, to the point I thought there wasn’t an original or genuine sentiment to be garnered in the entirety of the lot. Then I received a message from a man named Dave Taylor hailing from Lewisport, Kentucky. It was a simple, yet intelligent jokey reference to my short bio, but it clearly made him stand out amongst the throngs of less witty suitors.
I looked at his profile and saw we had one mutual acquaintance. Since this acquaintance is someone I hold in high regard, I decided to return his message. I was short, maybe not too sweet, but at least I had responded to him. This was more than I had been doing for others.
Dave quickly replied, and after a few messages, he inquired into my relationship status. I said I was very happily single and had come to believe it was “hard to find a man that isn’t a step down from what I already have”. I was a hardhearted city girl who had been battered by the sea of endless dating disasters.
He didn’t skip a beat and responded, “…that’s awesome and I hope you never settle for anything less than what you truly want. If, however, what you want is a weird dude who loves Jesus and modern design, maybe let’s be friends.”
I’ve received a LOT of messages, and some are not suitable for reprint, but this one was by far the MOST shocking. “Who is this man that boldly states his love for JESUS in the same message he is asking me for a date?”, I thought to myself. By the way, none of us ladies are ever fooled by the “Do you want to be friends?” tactic.
Ever since I have renewed my faith in love for JESUS many years ago, I have been constantly faced with the terrifying prospect of having to choose between loving GOD and loving a man. Yet, here was this mysterious gentleman dangling the prospect of both to me, and boy was I not wanting to grab the bait. I didn’t chomp down on the bait, but I nibbled around the hook and like a patient fisherman, he was steady handed and patient.
Fast forward six months, I’m standing next to Dave in a doctor’s office as he is being told he has advanced cancer and “it’s not good”. That’s a situation many well-seasoned marriages aren’t fully equipped to confront, and yet it was happening to us, a couple still too gun-shy to declare our love for each other. It wasn’t that we didn’t, we certainly did. Our hesitancy stemmed from heartache in prior relationships, and we were mutually fearful of fully presenting our hearts to each other.
I felt in that moment, Dave was in a burning building of cancer, and I had to rush in and save him. Maybe I couldn’t extract him, but I could sit in the fire with him, and he wouldn’t be alone.
It was my love for him that made me fearless. As the bible tells us in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For GOD has not given me a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and a sound mind.”
I have chosen almost every second of every day since April 27th, to love him without fear. There were moments I was weary, broken, and afraid, but I continued to push that away and love him and as we faced each up and down of this journey. Much like an avalanche cascading down a mountain, our love and faith has become stronger and more powerful, building in force as we rolled along.
When you love someone with a devastating diagnosis, you have a true opportunity to reevaluate what’s important and what’s not, what your true needs, desires, and values are. You see how petty and trivial things that in normal times we place such great emphasis on truly are. Dishes, laundry, and TV volume aren’t nearly as irritating when confronted with the harsh reality of a potentially limited amount of time laid out before you.
While I wish everyone a long and happy life, I hope you all get the chance to love someone like they’re dying, and I hope you have surprises as uplifting as Dave has been to me.
By Jamie D. Wagner-Hunt