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David Ramsey: Taylor White left blanket, and host of wonderful memories, for his mother, Angela

May 12, 2018 Updated: May 14, 2018 at 7:23 am
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photo - Angela and Nate White pose with a photo of their late son Taylor White at their home on Friday May 11, 2018 in Colorado Springs. Taylor was killed after he was involved in a hit-and-run incident while jogging in Phoenix.
Angela and Nate White pose with a photo of their late son Taylor White at their home on Friday May 11, 2018 in Colorado Springs. Taylor was killed after he was involved in a hit-and-run incident while jogging in Phoenix. 

In solitary moments, rare for a mother, Angela White sits on a red couch in her living room. Resting in the quiet, she's surrounded by reminders of her son, Taylor.

There's his Pine Creek High letter jacket. His leather weightlifting belt. His football cleats, worn the afternoon Pine Creek won the state title in 2014. His mountain climbing equipment used to conquer Colorado 14ers. His blue Bible, New International translation, worn and filled with underlined passages. And, right beside Angela, his bedroom pillow, adorned with a green Seattle Seahawks case.

While sitting here, Angela often snuggles with a massive photo blanket Taylor presented her for Christmas his freshman year at Grand Canyon University. His jubilant face dominates the blanket, revealing a bursting-with-life young man who accomplished so much in his brief life, a young man who seemed certain to grab so much more.

For a few weeks, flowers dominated the living room. Friends sent more than 20 arrangements, creating a happy riot of colors, but Angela could see the flowers were fading. On Tuesday, she started throwing away the flowers, once so vibrant.

But with four arrangements left, she stopped tossing.

"You don't want to get rid of everything," she says, her voice breaking, "because that means moving forward."

And moving forward means living without Taylor.

Angela and Nate White pose with a photo of their late son Taylor White at their home on Friday May 11, 2018 in Colorado Springs. Taylor was killed after he was involved in a hit-and-run incident while jogging in Phoenix. 

He died Sunday, April 8 at 9:21 p.m., at 31st and Camelback in Phoenix on the edge of the Grand Canyon campus. He was crossing a street - in the crosswalk, with a green light - when a driver in a white SUV ran a red light, hit him at high speed and killed him instantly in a hit-and-run. No arrests have been made in the case.

Taylor was 21, the oldest of Angela's four children. He was to marry Sarah Tedeschi on April 28.

"Taylor was larger than life," Angela says. "Everything he did, he did full out. Wrestling, football, leading treks up 14ers in lightning storms. He just lived so much life, and he just loved life."

She's right about her son. As a senior, Taylor started for Pine Creek's unbeaten football title team, and came achingly close to ruling Colorado in wrestling, too. He lost by one point in the heavyweight state final. He was The Gazette Preps Peak Performer of the Year in wrestling in 2015.

For Angela, the past five weeks have been filled with activity. The Pine Creek wrestling and girls lacrosse teams held fundraisers to honor Taylor, as did Dutch Bros. Coffee, two CrossFit gyms, one in Phoenix and one in Colorado Springs, and the dance, athletic training and outdoor recreation departments at Grand Canyon University.

Dozens of cards have arrived at the White's home near Pine Creek High. Angela and her husband, Nate, have listened to and read, over and over, words of praise for their son.

But the buzz of activity slows as reality grows clearer. A young man filled with love and potential is gone.

Each Sunday night, Angela and Nate watch the clock with dread as it nears 9:21 p.m.

"People say it gets harder, and that's what we're finding," she says. "At some point, we'll get to a place where it's more navigable, but every Sunday night at 9:21 I'm looking at my clock. Every Sunday night is hard.

"There's no answers, you know. There's no answers, and there never will be."

Nate talked with Taylor by phone virtually every day. They shared stories. They laughed. They talked sports. Dad offered advice, and son listened.

Nate, sitting on the couch beside Angela, closes his eyes.

"I keep thinking, 'Would we have done anything different? Is there anything we would have done different?'"

Nate pauses.

"No. We wouldn't have done a single thing different. We have some of that comfort. There's not a regret there."

Each Mother's Day, Angela brings the same gift request to her children. She gets to choose a movie, with no input from anybody, and the family watches it on their basement big screen. Over the past few years, the Whites have watched "Hidden Figures," "The Help," and "Pride and Prejudice."

Sunday, Angela will gather with sons Jordan, 19, and Ian, 15, and daughter Brittney, 17, to watch "War Room," a Christian flick that celebrates the power of prayer.

She plans to laugh and celebrate with her children. And she plans to wrap herself in that big blanket Taylor gave her, the blanket that reminds her of everything he was and everything he might have been.

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