Lost a Friend, Learned to Love


Taylor Pitmon, age 12. About a month before the incident.

On July 26, 2018, Taylor Rae Pitmon, age 12, drowned in a neighbor’s pool. It was the middle of the day; she was with her friends and their parents. Nobody suspected that less than an hour later her life would end.

Growing up, Taylor was the sweetest girl anyone could know.  I remember the first time she knocked on my front door when we were eight. She nervously asked if I wanted to come outside and meet our other neighbor.

After that, we spent every day together, walked home from school together, and had our birthdays together. We had our little traditions like popcorn for breakfast on Fridays, camping out the first weekend of every summer, sleepovers on the trampoline.

We laughed together, cried together, we gave everything we had to being there for each other. We ate pickle popsicles in the summer and threw water balloons at each other’s sunburned faces. We held oh-so-embarrassing concerts in her room and had more fun than I could ever describe.

Taylor made it her priority at such a young age to make the world a brighter place. She was the type to sit with the kids who were alone at lunch, to drop by just to give you a hug.  She asked for donations to the animal shelter for her birthday every year.  She loved her older brother more than anything and absolutely adored her pets.

Taylor was like a Disney Princess with the way she was drawn to every animal. She was passionate about her middle school’s choir and had given her very first solo performance right before she drowned. Taylor radiated so much love for those around her. Every moment around Taylor was a happy one.

When people hear about tragedies like this, it’s natural to think that they could never happen to someone we love. However, rarely do we consider the victims of these tragedies are people’s family members, friends, classmates, coworkers, acquaintances: anyone who was ever touched by their presence.

I remember being sat down at the dinner table by my older brother.

I hopped into the room, completely unaware of the news I was about to be given. My mother, with tears in her eyes, explained what happened.

The next few days were a haze. At the candlelight vigil, I cried together with many family members of Tay’s. Her mom, who loved me as her own, thanked me for being such a big part of Taylor’s life. I battled for the next two years with guilty feelings like “What if I had been with her at the pool that day?” or “What if I didn’t tell her how much she meant to me often enough?”

I learned to cope with these emotions by appreciating the time Taylor and I spent together. I had to understand that by loving her so much, I did enough.

However short, the life of Taylor Rae was beautiful, and I am so grateful to have been a part of it.

In processing all of this, I learned a very important lesson: the most meaningful thing you can do for someone you love is to actively love them. Whether it’s a childhood best friend, your sibling, or even your favorite teacher, the best thing you can do for them is to show them that you care. Life is far too short, our time is limited, so tell them how you feel, write that thank you note, kiss that boy, invite them to your volleyball game; How ever and as often you can, show the ones you love that you love them.