Learn more about this AMAZING girl, her health battle and how you can help! We’ll add all tweets with the #teamKCT hashtag so that you can follow Kailen!
In case you can’t see the resemblance, let me introduce myself…
I am Kailen Combs Taylor’s brother, Jarrod Combs, and I am blogging to share some exciting but challenging news with Team KCT!
In just two weeks, on Saturday, September 8, I will be participating in Norton’s Bike to Beat Cancer to raise money to help people in our community in their fight against cancer in honor of my victorious cousin, Luke Bartley, my great-uncle, Schuyler Tucker, Jr., who is currently battling cancer, and in loving memory of my sister, Kailen Combs Taylor.
Because this will be my first distance bike ride, initially, I signed up to for the 35-mile ride. However, after thinking about ALL my sister went through in her battle with cancer, I decided 35 miles was not enough.
So, I made the decision to up my ride to 100 miles!
As part of Team KCT, I’m sure you remember that on September 13, 2012 my sister, Kailen, was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer at the age of 22. You’ll also remember how fiercely and bravely Kailen fought for the next three years until her body could no longer hold out and her battle with cancer ended when she went home to be with Jesus on September 15, 2015.
Being completely honest with you, when I looked back on all the things my sister went through and the many things my family and others have gone through, this is all I could think:
“For me, this is more than just a fundraising thing. Just like people who are in the fight to beat cancer, I’m not going to give up on this ride until I get to the finish line! I might struggle, I might cramp, I might even have to walk for part of it, but, I don’t want to get to the end of it just to say, ‘Oh, that wasn’t so bad.’ No! For me, this is about going beyond what I think my body thought is capable of doing and pushing past tiredness and fatigue. 100 miles is daunting, but, just think about how daunting it is when someone is diagnosed with cancer. They aren’t sure how they’ll get through everything, but, they push through — even when they want to quit.”
These thoughts not only led me to up my ride to 100 miles but also to set my fundraising goal at $5,000.00!
I would be greatly honored to have the support of Team KCT in tackling this 100-mile ride — even if it is $5.00 because every little bit adds up!
(Please Note: Donations are a simple lump sum — not per mile ridden.)
To join my team and learn more about Bike to Beat Cancer, click this link
Thank you so much for helping make a difference in the lives of those touched by cancer!
Jarrod L. Combs
I promised a major book announcement today, and here it is!
Official publication day for Even if you don’t: February 10th, 2018 (Amazon and other retailers)
Official book cover reveal: December 9th, 2017 (on social media)
Wanna see the cover design 2 weeks early? Sign up for my newsletter!
There are several ways to sign up:
- On my home page at http://www.bryanctaylor.com
- In each blog post, at http://www.bryanctaylor.com/blog
- On my Facebook author page (Bryan C Taylor)
- Or email me directly at email@example.com
Thank you so much for your support! I can’t wait to share more of this journey with you.
In His Grip,
Happy Thursday, TeamKCT!
Just wanted to take a moment to remind you that I’ll be making my weekly post at Bryan C. Taylor Blog. This week’s post tells the story of my grief journey’s first milestone moment – the moment my old life became new.
(Hint: it happened at my and Kailen’s favorite place in Rochester, Minnesota!)
Also, stay tuned for a major book announcement! I have big news to share, and I’ll be going public with it THIS UPCOMING SUNDAY, November 12th.
Don’t miss it!
In His Grip,
It’s Bryan. I know it’s been awhile since we last connected, but I promise I haven’t been sitting idle. Though I’m certainly still walking through the undulating torrents of my own grief journey, I’ve initiated a project I pray will give hope and encouragement to other grieving hearts all over the world.
My blog, which I call Confessions of a Widower, has garnered nearly 30,000 views in its first three weeks – a poignant testament to the reality that pain is universal. In the blog, I explore various grief-related topics in an attempt to answer one of humanity’s toughest questions:
How do I live life like a fairytale, when it feels more like a tragedy?
Kailen had a beautiful, indomitable spirit unlike any person I’ve ever known. Which is why I’ve distilled all the lessons she taught me, all the love we shared, and all the life we lived into a book. I’ve titled it Even if you don’t, a phrase that Kailen lived out with awe-inspiring faith and courage.
You can read my blog here: Bryan C. Taylor Blog
To receive exclusive offers and book updates, sign up for my monthly newsletter! There are 3 ways to sign up:
1) On my website: Bryan C. Taylor, Author
2) Using the form embedded at the end of each blog post: Bryan C. Taylor Blog
3) On my Facebook Author Page: Bryan C. Taylor Facebook Author Page
4) On the Facebook Book Page: ‘Even if you don’t’ Book Page
I try to publish a new post every Thursday night! I’m honored to share my struggle with you! And as I always say at the end of each post, if you find it helpful or meaningful, please share it with others that might need it.
The book is set to publish on Amazon in February 2018! I will be posting updates on my blog, and as I mentioned before, my monthly newsletter will have both the latest updates and exclusive offers related to the book.
Until next time, I’ll leave you with this quote from Kailen. It epitomizes her immutable faith and forms the foundational tenets of the book you’ll read in February!
“Even if God didn’t do all of these miracles, I knew I was going to be better off for believing. Even if He didn’t, God would still have a plan. Even if He didn’t, I was still going to believe, and ask, and expect miracles.”
My prayers are with you, TeamKCT. And as Kailen and I said so many times – thank you for your incredible support!
I can’t wait to share our story with you in February.
In His Grip,
In a just a little while, at 5:00 p.m. one year ago today, on Tuesday, September 15, 2015 marks the homegoing of our daughter, Kailen Olivia Mae, who went home to be with Jesus. Right now, she is completely healed and all her questions have been answered simply from looking into the face of Jesus. She is victorious, she earned her crown, and, like so many who have gone before us, Kailen is more alive today than she ever was. She is experiencing the real world as it was meant to be the first time around and, I will have to say, I am very curious as to what she now knows.
In the meantime, we, as her family, have been working hard at trying to grieve well. To be open and transparent with you, it has been painful and hard work but we are moving forward and experiencing healing little by little. I liken it to riding a bicycle up hill. As long as you are peddling, it is moving forward. There is no coasting and you won’t get there unless you keep peddling. I won’t candy coat it either, sometimes the hill feels like climbing a church steeple but we have still kept on moving.
During the past few years of grieving (yes we became students of this process before September 15, 2015) we have listened to countless hours of sermons on grieving properly and read many words on many pages about the experiences of other pilgrims who have walked down this path. I have found it to be encouraging to hear from others who have been there, to know that I am normal and not losing my mind. I say that because, along with the grief of losing a close loved one also comes the fog and fatigue. At first, I considered my day successful if I got out of bed on time and remembered to brush my teeth. Eight hours of sleep felt more like going to bed at 3:00 a.m. And, unfortunately, the fog doesn’t burn off; it sticks around and some days is quite thick. I remember one time I got dressed and went to work and, when I got out of my vehicle, I noticed I was still wearing my house shoes. Another time, I paid for gas at the gas station and then drove off with an empty tank and never even noticed.
During this period of working through our grief, we have learned many good and interesting things. As you know, the more a person learns about life the more we learn we don’t know. I think one of the good things that comes from grieving purposefully is the introspection that takes place. You get a bigger perspective on who God really is and a reminder that “…it is not about me.” This all belongs to God; I am simply a steward of everything in my life, including my life. I haven’t earned anything. There are no self-made men. The problem with being a self-made “man” is that he worships his creator. Outside of the Life of the Son of God who lives inside me, there is nothing. It all belongs to Him and He gives me the very breath I take each moment. When I have the right perspective that God is God and I am not, then I operate from a grateful heart and thank God for everything because it is all His. It’s not about me. When my heart is grateful it makes lots of room for God and when my heart is full of the things of God there is very little room for myself.
Another interesting fact we have learned is that when you lose a close loved one you want to remember them. You want their memory to stay alive. You want their life and works and pain and suffering and absence to mean something. I now understand why so many foundations exist and I also know that people who have lost a close loved one appreciate hearing people mention their loved one’s name and tell stories and good things about them. I personally love to talk about Kailen and love to hear people say her name and the good things about her. I can talk about her at the drop of a hat and, if necessary, drop the hat myself. I love to see her picture and thank the Lord, as the poet William Wordsworth once said, for “…the sad times that bring sweet memories to mind.”
Having said that, let me tell you just a little ‘bout my daughter, Kailen. As a young lady she would start praying in the last quarter of each year about what her purpose and theme would be for the upcoming “New Year.” She would also create an image or painting to represent the theme and have subpoints for each month with action items. In other words, she purposefully and intentionally did life even as a youngster. One of our parenting mottos was to teach our children, “to do life and not have life do them.” As you can tell, I was proud about how Kailen approached life with a passion to live purposefully.
Another thing about Kailen that was so irresistibly attractive was that her walk with the Lord was not Jesus plus something in order to feel good about herself and to feel complete. Her personal significance was based on a walk with Jesus alone. She knew who she was in Christ, both in her heart and in her head, and it showed. Terminal cancer did not define Kailen’s life, it illuminated it. Her circle of influence was large because so many were attracted to the Life of the Son of God who lived inside her. As deep calls out to deep, the spirit man in each of us is attracted to the holiness and righteousness of the spirit man in others. Obviously, Kailen was not perfect, but, she let her light shine and we all loved her for it.
One last proud father story I’ll share today is Kailen’s giftedness to write. Her style was special because it was a personal, first person perspective which articulated the many feelings that swirl when you try to do life and not have life do you. Back when she was in Middle School, one of her standardized tests included a writing piece. She did so well on the writing that she scored one of the highest scores ever recorded in Oldham County Middle School. She even received a letter from the White House congratulating her on the quality of her writing abilities. Boy, did that make me proud! I have personally benefited and been blessed by her many written words she has left behind. Thank you, Lord, for giving me the gift of Kailen’s words.
As I come to a conclusion, I have heard it said that you have no idea how tough temptation is until you live a life that purposes to resist it. As I mentioned earlier, Kailen was not perfect and we should only compare ourselves to Christ, not others lest we puff ourselves up. However, as her father, I think she did a spectacular job at running the race and finished strong. According to God, Kailen did not leave this earth one minute too soon; she was right on time and accomplished God’s purposes.
Lastly, I will speak to Kailen and say, I love you, Kailen Olivia Mae. You are dearly missed by us all and I am very proud of you. I’ll see you as soon as my purposes in Christ are complete. Until then, I will continue to look forward to that day.
I sit here today, September 15, 2016, the day that marks one year since my daughter, sister, and friend, Kailen Olivia Mae Combs Taylor, at 25 1/2 years of age, took her final breath of life here on this earth and began, as C.S. Lewis writes, “…the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.” Those words have brought us great comfort as they have played and replayed over and over in our minds throughout this past year. And, thank you, Pastor Tim, for choosing to end Kailen’s Celebration of Life service last September 19th with those exact words.
One of the first things I have to say is that, as Kailen’s mom, I have thanked the Lord so many times during this past year for entrusting me and blessing me to be her mama for her 25 1/2 years of life on this earth. And, it goes without saying, but I know I did nothing to deserve the honor of being Kailen’s mama…absolutely nothing. It was truly just a gift from God to have Kailen as my daughter. Such joy, peace, laughter, love, life, and spunk Kailen brought to every single day of life. Even through all of the pain she endured and the questions she had in this life, I watched Kailen choose each of those things over and over again.
Kailen came into this world fighting a battle. She was born at 36 weeks, weighing 6 lbs. 8 3/4 oz., 20″ long looking like a beautiful, dark-haired, healthy baby girl. However, shortly after her birth, she began having trouble breathing. The doctors chose to put her under an oxygen hood and keep her in a higher level nursery for her first night to keep a closer watch on her. After getting basically no sleep the night before Kailen was born due to being in labor, I was completely exhausted; however, around 1:00 a.m. I found myself awake and decided to call the nursery to check on Kailen. When the nurse answered the phone, I began asking her how Kailen was doing as I was hearing a baby crying in the background. I stopped mid-sentence and asked the nurse, “Is that Kailen crying?” to which she replied, “Yes.” She went on to tell me they had tried to comfort her but nothing they did seemed to make any difference. So, I told the nurse I would be right down.
As I walked into the nursery, Kailen was still crying just as hard. I walked over to her and placed my right hand over her chest as I wrapped my left hand around her left leg ,and, within minutes, her crying stopped. The nurses were amazed and said, “I guess she just needed her mama’s touch.” I was just grateful she had stopped crying and gone back to sleep.
Over the next few hours, I tried several times to gently take my hands off of Kailen, but, every single time my hands began to just barely pull away from her skin, she began squirming and fussing. So, for the next few hours, I sat there with my hands in that exact position as I prayed for my baby girl. Finally, around 4:00 a.m. I asked one of the nurses to call my husband and ask him to come to the hospital. Jeff got there within the hour, and, after showing him the position his hands needed to be in so Kailen wouldn’t cry, his hands replaced mine and I went back to my room to get a little sleep.
Jeff stayed with Kailen, keeping his hands in the position I had shown him, for a couple more hours. Around 7:00 a.m., the doctors decided to do a few x-rays to check and see what Kailen’s lungs looked like. When they looked at the x-ray’s, they discovered her left lung had collapsed during the night. (No wonder she was crying so hard!) Soon the doctors from the children’s hospital came and told Jeff that Kailen needed to be taken downtown to Kosair Children’s Hospital, but before they took her they were going to make a small incision between her ribs on her left side and insert a chest tube which would cause her left lung to reinflate. They said she would then be taken by “baby buggy,” a.k.a. ambulance, but they would bring her by my room before leaving with her. Jeff then had to come to my room to wake me up and tell me the news.
Shortly after Jeff woke me up and told me what had happened, they brought Kailen into my room. She was in an incubator, on a respirator, had an IV in her head, and a chest tube in her side, and, we, of course, were a mess. Jeff and I walked over to the incubator and they told us we could reach our hands through the two holes in the sides of the incubator, to be able to touch her. So we did. The doctors told us that Kailen had three good things going for her: 1) She’s a good birth weight, 2) She’s a girl–girls are fighters as newborns, and, 3) She’s got a temper. They said, “When we gave Kailen the injection to numb her before we made the incision for the chest tube, she began holding her breath.” They went on to explain to us that holding your breath is not a normal newborn reflex and that her holding her breath showed she had a temper and was a fighter. Before the doctors left my room and with our hands still reaching through the holes into the incubator, Jeff and I prayed over our sweet newborn daughter and thanked the Lord for this precious gift.
Thus began the life of Kailen Olivia Mae. And, I’d like to say the health stories for Kailen only get better from there, but, unfortunately, there are more stories. I won’t tell you all of those stories just yet. I’ll save those for later posts or, maybe, for her book. But, I have to tell you, as much of a fighter to live as Kailen Olivia Mae was, she was even more of a fighter to keep her eyes on Jesus no matter the storm, no matter the pain, no matter the cost. We watched her time and time again choose what James 1 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” And, though Kailen Olivia Mae was only given to us for 25 1/2 years, she left here on September 15, 2015 “mature and complete, not lacking anything.” Praise Jesus.
My prayer for myself and for all who were touched by Kailen’s life is that we will all live our lives in such a way that, when we come to the end of our lives here on this earth, others will say about us what we say about Kailen: Kailen Olivia Mae sure did this life the right way.
I love you, Kailen Olivia! I miss you more than words could ever say! And…I can’t wait to spend eternity worshiping Jesus with you! I’m listening for your drumming…