Taylor and I walked while we talked. We walked for over an hour to the point where I lost track of where we were, and she wound up having to use her understanding of Austin, the city she was born and raised in, to help me get back to my car.
During that walk, Taylor was subdued and brutally honest without being unkind, something I'd liked about her from the moment I met her.
"When I was younger," she said unflinchingly, "I kept people out. I didn't let a lot of people in."
You can feel this is true without being told, honestly. Taylor walks with an independence and a surety that tells just about anyone that she relies on herself first and foremost; everyone else either keeps up, or they don't.
Listening to her story only confirms it: she first entered college on a golf scholarship before transferring to a different university. After graduating from college, Taylor built a career in the medical field that demanded more time from her than most people would agree to. She did it with a focus on the future, and with a refusal to let anyone hold her back. No one, it seems, was able to talk her out of something once she decided it was to be: not her colleagues, not her friends, and not even the man who would some day become her husband.
She was the master of her own destiny, and that was that.
As a Perfusionist, Taylor works in hospitals regularly. One of the first stories I remember her telling was one involving a part of her machine coming loose, resulting in her being completely sprayed with blood.
While most of us would tell this story with shell-shocked looks on our faces, Taylor told it rather matter-of-factly; this was a part of life, and it needed to be dealt with. What would crying and complaining do?
Knowing more about her family makes it easier to understand. With a young daughter who had many scary medical issues (the worst of which involving long-running kidney problems that required extensive observation and procedures), Taylor learned quickly that she didn't have time to kick and scream against life's unpleasantries -- adapting and forging ahead were the only options.
When I asked her what had changed, the answer was already evident: Taylor still faces every challenge head-on, and she still refuses to back down from things that truly matter. Now, however, she doesn't merely do it for herself. Now, she does it for her husband, and for her daughter, and for her soon-due son. Now, while she is still selective about who she lets in, she does let people in. Because sometimes, that extra purpose is s a great fuel through hardship, through pain, and through 90-hour work weeks.
She is still the master of her own destiny. Now, "destiny" just has a different meaning.