Wednesday morning after Taylor died, I got up about 4 am. Margot slept next to me in my bed the night before. I picked up a journal and sat on my bathroom floor so the light wouldn’t wake her. I began writing. My pen could hardly keep up with the thoughts racing in my mind. I know there is still so much more I could have said, but today I wanted to share the words I wrote for Taylor in those first days.
“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”
Taylor was not perfect. That should go without saying on account of, like the rest of us, he was human. I truly believe, though, that he would have gladly given his life to save just one person that attended his funeral. My prayer is that the message of Taylor’s unwavering faith reached someone that needed to hear it. You can ask Jesus into your heart at any time and under any circumstance…He will be there eagerly awaiting your invitation. The following letter was read at Taylor’s service on my behalf by our pastor and dear friend, Sean Lee. A copy of this writing was also taken by a friend to Israel in March and placed in the Western Wall. She shared with me that at first there was not a place to leave the notes and prayers she had traveled with. After asking God’s assistance, she was led to place my letter in the tunnels closest to the Holy of Holies, where the Foundation Stone and the Dome of the Rock are located. This is considered the most sacred part of the wall where the presence of God dwells.
February 14, 2020
Taylor and I were quite opposite in many ways. Classic examples of an extrovert and introvert. I feel most comfortable when I am at home and my husband was my home. For Taylor, the bigger the crowd the better. Taylor was never afraid of dying because he knew with his whole heart where he was going. He would joke that “The only bad thing about dying is that my funeral will be all of my favorite people together in one place and I will have to miss it.”
When I was fourteen, a youth minister said something to our youth group that really stuck with me. I think of this advice as one of the most precious gifts that I have ever received. He told us to ‘start praying now for your future spouse, pray for their heart and the work God is doing in their life. Make a list of all the things you want in a husband and pray for this person.’ At fourteen, I went home and made my list. I tucked it away and never really referred back to it, but I prayed for the life of the man God had picked out for me every night.
When we were twenty-four, Taylor and I met at the wedding of our dear friends, Grace and Todd. Again, we were quite opposite-he was concerned, as always, with making sure everyone was having the best night ever and keeping the party going, while I was doing my best to be a dutiful bridesmaid and keep everything under control. I don’t think anyone at that wedding would have put the two of us together, but when I met Taylor, I instantly had a feeling of home because I had already known this man in my prayers for ten whole years.
Sometime before our own wedding, we were staying at my parents’ house and I found my list in my old bedroom. I was able to read this to Taylor and we laughed as we put a check mark next to every single item on that list, with one exception…he was not from Texas. But, I think a rancher from Southeastern New Mexico was close enough.
We met New Years Eve 2011 and had a fairytale romance. We said “I love you” for the first time on February 10, 2012. Although Taylor always claimed he said it sooner, this is the date I remembered. Eight was both of our favorite number and we had a perfect eight years of love.
Even when we quarreled or had times we were getting on each other’s nerves; we always knew that we were in this for the long haul and loved each other deeply. We also never took for granted how blessed we are to have parents and grandparents with marriages we could look up and aspire to. I am eternally grateful for their support. I am especially grateful for the love and advice from Taylor’s mother, Kathryn.
Growing up in Fort Worth around all of your own family does not exactly prepare you to move away to a smaller town and lead this western lifestyle. Kathryn married Taylor’s father, Mark, at just eighteen years old and moved up to the ranch we call Upper Place shortly thereafter. Kathryn, along with her own mother in law, Lauralea, knew what it meant to be married to a Marley Man.
You have been the Naomi to my Ruth, my confidant and friend. I am so thankful for all of the support and advice you provided me in my young marriage. I am thankful to you and Mark for the foundation you provided Taylor. I never once heard him recount a negative experience from his childhood or at any point in his life for that matter. Taylor would tell me often if he could ask God one question it would be, “Why am I so blessed?”
The scripture that has been placed on my heart is “Be Still and know that I am God.” In the stillness, I feel Taylor with me. In the stillness, I am comforted knowing God’s plan is bigger than any of us can fathom and I am so incredibly blessed to have been gifted with being a part of His plan for Taylor. I know so strongly that these words, “Be still” placed on my heart are a gift from God, and the irony of this phrase is not lost on me, because if you knew Taylor, you know being still was not one of his many capabilities.
If you knew Taylor, you knew that he loved God, ranching, football and his family with his whole being. He was so close with and so proud of his sister Kate. He loved joking around with and incessantly teasing his mom, Kathryn, and his dad was truly his best friend in the entire world. I will always remember the joy in Taylor’s face when he introduced his father, Mark Wade Marley, to our youngest daughter, Charlotte Wade Marley, named in honor of his best friend and greatest role model.
Taylor’s love for his family was a big reason he fit in so perfectly with mine. My brother was his brother, my sister was his sister and he was my parents’ fourth child. We never took for granted how special this bond was. We even had a group text among all of our siblings named “Best Friends Winners Club.” This past year we had the pleasure of getting to know Kate’s boyfriend, Will. After spending a lot of time together over Christmas, Taylor and I were so tickled that Kate may have found us another brother and that Will had the seal of approval to join the ‘Best Friends Winners Club.’
Taylor was a 6th generation rancher and took great honor in continuing this family legacy. His grandfather, Papa Bob, was his personal hero and Taylor worked hard, with a smile on his face, every day to build something that Papa would be proud of. Taylor never once complained of the workload or demanding physical labor he took on because he knew how blessed he was for the opportunity to do it. He would say, no matter the situation, the one thing you can always control is your attitude, so make it a good one.
In 2016 we welcomed our daughter, Margot, and in 2018 her sister, Charlotte. Taylor could not have been prouder to welcome our girls into the Marley family and bring up the 7th generation on the ranch. He loved teaching our girls to love the land and animals, and instilled in them a hard work ethic and love of family and God’s creation, just as his father had taught him and Kate. Taylor would take our oldest, GoGo, with him to feed cows whenever he could, and would beam with pride when she would come home and tell me all the ranching advice she had taken in while she was helping Daddy. We loved going in the pickup as a family to check pastures or “make a circle” and will always cherish the life Taylor provided us, allowing his girls to join him at work, drop off lunch, or just steal a kiss on Pine Lodge Highway.
Simply put, this isn’t fair. I know a lot of people are saying that they can’t imagine how I am getting through this right now, but in Taylor’s words, my attitude is the only thing I can control. I am so incredibly blessed! Taylor and I know how fortunate we are to have been raised in the church and to have accepted Jesus Christ into our hearts.
“Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
I will never understand, but I take comfort in my trust that God’s plan is perfection beyond my understanding. God ordained Taylor 32 years on this earth. I know with my whole heart that Taylor was the man chosen for me. God knew before he formed me in my mother’s womb that I would have the strength to climb out of this darkest valley. Today, I know that I am so incredibly privileged because I am a believer in Jesus Christ and I have had the honor of being Taylor’s wife. Eight years of loving Taylor Marley and the honor of being the mother to his children are gifts far greater than I could have ever imagined at fourteen years old when he first came into my life through prayer.
God has me. God has Taylor.
I will see you again, my love.
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