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October
21
2019

October 20, 2019

Kindly RSVP for the reception by Monday afternoon, 10/21/19, here or to epmstone@gmail.com so we can plan accordingly.

 
 
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October
18
2019

October 18, 2019

Final arrangements have been made to celebrate the life of Stephen Taylor on Friday, October 25, 2019.

10:30a.m. Memorial Mass
Blessed Teresa of Calcutta
150 N Elizabeth Ave, 
Ferguson, MO 63135

12:30 p.m. Burial and Military Honor
Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery
2900 Sheridan Rd. 
St. Louis, MO 63125

Memorial Reception Immediately following JB at Rooftop Church 
9217 Gravois Rd.
Affton, MO 63123

* Kindly RSVP for the reception by Monday, 10/21/19, to epmstone@gmail.com so we can plan accordingly.

October
16
2019

October 16, 2019

This is written in my point of view and experience. We all walked through this day differently.

It has been over 24 hours since I received the worst phone call ever, "I hate to tell you this over the phone, but your dad didn't make it." The grief was instant, then there was a split moment that I thought it was a mistake. I had spoken to him on the phone just 20 minutes earlier. I knew he was scared, but I told him I loved him and I would see him after work. I was at a training in an unfamiliar building surrounded, mostly, by people I didn't know. I tried to find a room to run into but didn't know where I was going so I headed towards a window and dropped to the floor crying.  People came running towards me not knowing what happened and guided me to a small room with a table and 2 chairs. "My dad just died!" I do not know who these sympathetic angels were, but they managed to find 2 people I did know: a college sorority sister who happened to be in the same training and a friend who is the sister of one of my church family members. This group of people worked together to give me comfort, helped me call Justin, gather my things, and take me to the hospital. I was able to reach a few very dear friends, I call sisters, who wanted to be with me and pay their respects to a man who loved them as daughters. 

Justin and I got to the hospital at the same time and met Aunt Jan getting off the elevator. Details immediately following have escaped me. We entered dads room and were quickly surrounded by loved ones and staff coming to pay their respects. This is where we learned what happened. Dad was going in for two procedures to find the unknown source of the infection. During the CAT scan, a very standard procedure, Dad went into cardiac arrest and couldn't recover. A CAT scan, something many of us have had done for this or that with no fear of not coming out on the other side. Call me naive, but the CAT scan was the least of my worries although I knew it came with more risks for my dad than for the average person. His already weak body just couldn't recover. 

Heart broken just doesn't cover the depth of our grief. Wonderful friends stepped in to pick up kids and give them dinner, visit to celebrate life and talk about wonderful memories. Our pastor came over to provide support when we told our little ones the news. Attached you will see a picture of what looks like a common river rock. That river rock was given to Kensley by her school counselor. Mrs. Busby said it was a strength and healing rock. Kensley slept with it all Monday night to fill it up with her love and strength and I was supposed to deliver it to Poppy Tuesday when I went in to spend the evening with him after work. I had to give the rock back to Kensley telling I was unable to deliver it because Poppy went to Heaven. 😭 We talked about how he would never have to walk with a cane again, no more wheelchairs, no big boots to wear, no breathing problems, no more coughing, no more pain. That brought sweet smiles. 

Over the last 24 hours we have been comforted by kind words posted here and on Facebook, in text messages and phone calls. We are grateful for meals, offers to care for the kids, help with planning and grieving, and everything in between. Your offers and support are appreciated more than you know and once I get my head about me, we will reach out for help.

Since yesterday, none of us have really slept, Erik is working to finalize details that will allow us to make plans for a celebration of life. Once those plans are secured, I will post details here, on Facebook, and e-mail those for whom I have e-mails.

My dad rarely said "You're Welcome" his response was always "You betcha!" That and "Give me a hug, my daughter." are the words ringing in my ear. I just want to give him a hug and say thank you for everything you are to me and so many people. He would say, "You betcha."

October
15
2019

October 15, 2019

With every bit of energy I have remaining before I fall into my bed, with the largest amount of grief I have felt in my entire life, with so much sadness I say my beloved Daddy breathed his final breath this morning. I am broken hearted.

October
15
2019

October 15, 2019

Nurses. They can make or break you. Dad had 2 back to back nurses over a 24 hour span that made a negative impact on all of us. It's experiences like that that makes me a better therapist. It is bad enough to see a loved one in the state my dad is currently in, then to see such lack of empathy during every interaction right in front of my face... well.  Thank goodness for the exceptional nurses he has had during his stay. Thank goodness there have been so many I have not remembered all of their names; Mark, Mel, Eileen, Bibiana and Christy are a few names I have managed to store in my weary, packed brain. 

Yesterday was rough. Dad seemed to save it up all for me. He held himself together until the moment he heard my voice. It was almost like coming home to a babysitter giving a stellar report of rock star behavior then the minute they walk out the door, meltdown city. Aunt Jan was with him all day. She reported dad was feeling a lot of physical pain. That he hurt so bad and felt so cranky he didn't even like himself. The built up impact of that was not truly communicated until I walked in the door after work. The next 3 hours proceeded to be really hard ones that almost shattered me.  He was so sad, weary, weak, pained, frustrated, tired.

After telling me he wanted to give up, he wanted this all to end, he was crying about how bad his chest hurt that he couldn't breath. He needed pain medication. He needed his bed up. No, it needs to be down. He must be on his left side. No, it must be the right side that will lessen the pain in his chest. It was an hour of my relatively weak body adjusting this large, once very powerful being. Eventually, the true culprit was revealed...PANIC. Dad realized he was having a panic attack. This was a foreign concept to him, but one that has been all to familiar to me over the most recent past.  In fact just 2 weeks ago, dad saw me on the tail end of a panic attack, now that he lives with me, but he never had one himself that he could recall. The panic and fear was crippling for him. Fear is another foreign emotion for my dad and he did not know how to manage it.  I talked him through this attack just like Kristen helped me when I was experiencing my first one in my postpartum stage. Focus on your breathing, in your nose  and out your mouth. In that moment, I knew God had me experience the feeling of such intense panic and fear for that exact moment. I was right where I was supposed to be as hard as it was to experience, to love my dad through his first ever panic attack. When it was all over, he was especially weak. In the weakest times some of the most sincere and loving moments occur. After he had some time to catch his breath, he told me that seeing me after my panic attack a few weeks ago left him bewildered, at that time, that a daughter of him could not control myself enough to stop them. The he said, my eyes have been opened. This is something you have absolutely no control over... he always was in control and was trained to do so from the military. He is experiencing a range of emotions he never allowed himself to feel. It is overwhelming. Now that he came to realize the source of the pain, that he couldn't control the fear and panic, and that he REALLY hated it, I said, "OK, now that you know what this was, I am going to tell you the things you said to me after my last one." I reminded him that he told me I needed to give all my fear over to Jesus. I need to work on my personal relationship with Him and talk to him just like I would talk to him, my earthly daddy. Dad started to cry because he admitted to being angry with God for a few months now. The tables have now been turned and I am now ministering to the man who I always went to for spiritual guidance.

As I tried to get him to focus on something else beside his shortness of breath, I asked him what the stupidest thing he thought I ever did. Eyes wide open, without missing a beat, he yelled out the name of my first neighborhood boyfriend. 😕 😂  This was a name I have long forgotten, but it was engrained in his brain. The things dads remember.
October
14
2019

October 14, 2019

As I returned to work today, I felt sad driving in a different direction then the hospital.  The work I do is important, my students mean the world to me, but I'd rather be with my dad. As soon as I settled in at my desk, I called Dad's nurse to see how the night went since it was the first night in a while that Erik did not 'sleep' in the most uncomfortable chair known to man next to dad. I was missing his morning updates.  You just don't get the same feedback from someone who doesn't know and love dad like we do.  The report was generic, "I just got on shift and didn't get much of an update. I was told he did good. He ate breakfast and is napping now." This is a huge change from the large number of text messages Erik and I are used to exchanging in the morning between our 'shift change'.

Luckily, Aunt Jan got there in time for rounds to greet 8 doctors. I don't know how they all fit in his room! First things first, though, upon entering the room Dad demanded a hug from Aunt Jan.  He is not holding back on his emotions and wants as much personal contact as humanly possible. There's been a lot of hand holding, arm rubbing, and hugging as much as one could do leaning into a gigantic hospital bed with rails, cords, tubes, and gadgets galore.  He doesn't care, just give him a hug.  I told him it was too bad we couldn't bring Kensley in because she'd lay on him... she has personal space issues that would serve a great purpose for Poppy 😍 . He said he'd love that!

Back to the medical update. Dad did feed himself part of a pancake this morning, which is a big deal because he had to chew rather than drink AND that means he has a little more feeling in his hands to grip a smaller object. His coughing has decreased but has a very raw throat. Dad's creatinine levels are down to 1 showing improvement in his kidney function. This will allow him to have a CT scan with contrast. We keep getting reminded that today is a holiday so everything is pushed to tomorrow.  If that is the case, he could have a SUPER busy day tomorrow.  He won't like that too much! Being shuffled around is not a preferred activity.

I will go up to the hospital after school at some time and so will Erik.  I am hoping for more positive reports and to be able to see for myself. 

Tomorrow, though, fear is in all of us with the esophageal procedure to view his heart machinery... Please PRAY 🙏  for peace, strong faith, restful dreams, patience, health, overall strength and anything else my weary brain can't come up with.

October
14
2019

October 13, 2019

I didn't want to go to sleep without saying my dad and I had some quiet times together today. During those times, I relayed kind and loving words people have emailed, texted, posted on Facebook, are told me in a conversation. It has been great to see a smile or hear how he feels about each and every person mentioned. I wish I could record them all. Thank you for the encouraging messages and all the prayers.

October
13
2019

October 13, 2019

My dad, my hero, the first man I ever loved and the strongest man I have ever known, is really struggling and could use a lot of prayers. 
 
I found him disoriented on Tuesday evening sitting on our front porch and he had been there since 9:30 a.m. without anything to eat of drink for more than 7 hours. He was too weak to get up. His sister, Janis, came over and took him to the ER. Erik met up here at John Cochran Medical Center and stayed with him till early morning. The doctors admitted him for MRSA and a wound infection requiring a partial amputation. He was admitted to the Surgical ICU Early Wednesday morning to wait for a surgery that would take at least his small toe on his left foot with the chance of more. Late Wednesday evening, he went into surgery. Only his small toe had to be removed, Praise the Lord! This will turn out to be the least of our worries. This amputation did not resolve the infection, which has spread. There is also another unknown infection site. A CT scan has been ordered to see if they can detect a foreign object. They will also do a procedure through his esophagus to get a look at his pace maker/defibrillator and leads. Because of the holiday, the earliest this will take place is on Tuesday. The VA system does not operate quickly so I expressed that this infection has been an issue for quite some time and he should be made a priority. The doctor agreed and will urge them to schedule dad first. Dad signed permission to do this but he is very scared. He is scared because of his breathing issues.  My dad is never scared.  So, naturally, I am terrified.  Pray, Pray, Pray!

He is also so very weak. He has a catheter, has to be fed due to muscle weakness, lacks any appetite at all but will consume liquids because he knows he needs to. He receives breathing treatments every 6 hours, Mucinex every 4 hours to help break up the congestion, blows into a little instrument to create vibrations in hopes to loosen up the phlegm. He is on an IV for antibiotics, oxygen to keep his O2 levels stable, and basically has his CPAP on 24/7. They are drawing blood out of invisible veins to monitor kidney function and to get cultures to monitor the infection. Liquid intake monitored due to kidney function and finger pricked to monitor fluctuating blood sugar levels. His arms look like a war zone.  He is hot one second and has the chills the next. When he closes his eyes, he has very vivid pictures in his mind that keeps his rest unrestful. He's afraid of the dark. PRAY, PRAY, PRAY!

He is loosing his will to fight and has said so several times to several people. Pray for both physical and emotional strength. Pray that he gets some relief from the pain and fear. Pray that God meets him in his dreams to give him comfort and peace. 

Pray that his family will be ready when God's will is made known whether it is to come home or not. Please pray!