Kendall

In all her 20 years, Kendall proved a formidable foe to the effects of Fanconi anemia. She refused to be defined solely by her disease. Lacking the red blood cells that any typical person would need to play competitive sports or to ski giant moguls in the high altitude of Colorado, she played and skied anyway. Kendall embraced challenges and broke the rules that were not set in stone. She always had a perfectly good reason for whatever she did…and would convincingly tell you. She once told us that she was counting on God's grace: 'Without it, I'm in big trouble.' Aren't we all.

Kendall AtkinsonKendall was known to create fun. Whether it was rollerblading in the dark or downhill skiing over picnic tables, she stretched the boundaries of life and made us all envious of her spirit of adventure. Though seemingly quiet and reserved by nature, she did not live life quietly, but lived loudly and pressed on with much determination. Her sense of humor was dry and clever, her laugh contagious. Even as a young child, her gift of discernment was evident, as was her independent spirit. Along with her love for skiing, playing games, knitting, camping, and shooting off fireworks, Kendall loved the gatherings of her extended family for just about any occasion. She was insistent on keeping family traditions and could be counted on to use her artisitc and creative talents to make that special something for someone. Our family will never again gather in quite the same way without her. The hole she left is deep.

As for her brother with whom she shared the genetic defect of Fanconi anemia, Kendall wrote in a school essay: 'My brother Taylor is my favorite person in the whole world. I don't know what I would ever do without him.' As for the love she had for her devoted older sisters, the only time Kendall cried during her horrific and painful transplant course was when Allison and Whitney had to return to Colorado for a time. Quiet tears streamed down her face as the doors closed behind them.

Throughout her life, Kendall seemed to have an ability to tolerate physical pain that put us all to shame. Brave does not even begin to describe how she endured the medical maze of procedures brought on by Fanconi anemia, the most daunting of which was her bone marrow transplant. I remember looking at her, so horribly ill and, with a sick feeling in my stomach, I realized that I was not sure I could go through what she was having to endure. Kendall kept her prayer pager near her pillow, finding quiet comfort in the inumerable buzzes it gave as people dialed to let her know that they were lifting her up to the God that held her in His hands.

Kendall dreamed of one day having a career that would allow her to spend her days with children, whether it be as a teacher in America or working in an orphanage in a third world country. For as long as we can remember, children were drawn to her and she was crazy about them. Kendall had a heart for the poor and underprivileged, and loved serving those in need. For many years, she and her dad tutored weekly in an inner city program. Volunteer work at an inner city summer camp brought her in touch with those she cared deeply about.

Kendall told a friend that she was going to transplant so that she could do the work God had planned for her. In the end, perhaps His glory was the only reason she said yes to Him and no to her life here.

Taylor

Taylor brought the unexpected to our lives. Don't we all pray for that healthy, perfect baby? And yet God, in his infinite wisdom and love, gave us Taylor...all that we never thought we wanted and yet who was everything we could have hoped for or dreamed of. Taylor fulfilled our hearts and lives and completed our family in ways we would never have thought possible.

Taylor AtkinsonWhen measured by the world's standards, Taylor did not come to us with much. He was small in stature and not of great intellect. He would never throw a touchdown pass, never win a debate, or be an accomplished musician. In fact, he would never even ride a bike or drive a car. And yet, he was the perfect son.

Taylor's joy and exuberance for life were contagious; his simplicity captivating. He had a passion everyday for even the smallest things. He loved being with people and taught us much about the value of living in community. Family and friends were his greatest earthly treasures. Taylor absolutely loved doing anything, everything, and nothing with his friends. The torn, tattered and taped phonebook he used from elementary through high school tells the story of a kid who was born to connect with people. One of his high school teachers noted, 'He attracted legions of loyal friends without even trying.' Whether he was burning sticks around a campfire, skiing in Winter Park, tubing on a lake, going to school, setting off fireworks, playing basketball, dancing at Prom, going to Camp Barnabas or Youth Group, hanging out with his sisters, driving a 4wheeler, listening to his music, challenging a friend to a favorite video game.... Taylor loved life.

With an ability to make those around him feel good, we often called him the 'feel good kid'. His uplifted eyebrows, big smile, and enthusiastic greeting were enough to make the worst of days seem better. In his very simple way, he showed us how good it feels to be unconditionally loved and accepted. Taylor's genuine unassuming spirit made him a breath of fresh air. Always living in the moment, he could be funny and feisty. Taylor loved telling jokes or riddles, though he usually never really understood them.

Throughout his life, with all it's physical and mental challenges, Taylor's resilience amazed and shamed us. It was nothing for him to be throwing blood up all night, wind up in the hospital, and be out that same day in time for a Super Bowl party with the youth group. Perhaps that contributed to a school award he once received for 'Most Inspirational.'

At the end, when the pain relentlessly plagued him, Taylor's response was, 'Will you pray for me?' And soon it became simply, 'Pray!' There seemed to be no visible relief from the pain. Instead God dispensed to Taylor the courage and strength to endure. Perhaps Taylor sensed God's presence. Perhaps Taylor understood more than any of us.... that He is enough. Whatever it was, with his authentic, childlike faith, Taylor never stopped trusting God. That may be Taylor's greatest legacy to us. Simple trust in a God whose ways are often shrouded with intended mystery and unanswered questions. We all recall Taylor's last clear words: 'I just want Jesus!' It is to Him he went.