|Meet the Author: Todd and Tara Storch|
|Written by Leslie Santamaria|
|Wednesday, 06 March 2013 02:17 PM America/New_York|
Todd and Tara Storch, with Jennifer Schuchmann, tell how they got involved in organ donation efforts after the tragic loss of their daughter Taylor in Taylor’s Gift: A Courageous Story of Giving Life and Renewing Hope (978-0-800-72188-6, $21.99). The book releases in April 2013 from Revell/Baker Publishing Group.
Why have you decided to write your story of losing your 13-year-old daughter, Taylor, in a ski accident three years ago?
This was not easy to do. We have experienced a parent’s worst nightmare. But we had a choice (and yes, it is a choice) to accept the path that God put us on or crawl up in the grief and wallow in anger and sadness. We chose to find the good in this. We have had so many God-inspired moments in this tragic situation that we knew we had to share our story to help others. That is really all we want to do, to help others. Sharing our story helps give purpose to the pain. But, most importantly, we hope it will help others know that no matter what your circumstances, you can grab onto God’s hand and He will guide you—if you let Him.
Jennifer Schuchmann, a New York Times best-selling author, wove the many threads of your experiences together beautifully. How did your collaboration with her work and how long did it take?
We thought long and hard about how we were going to write this. Our emotions are so raw. This is our life in words and we didn’t have experience in being authors, so we knew we needed guidance. After all, how do we express our experience into words and then somehow show there is light in it all? Jennifer came into our life after we interviewed a few authors, and we knew immediately that she was the one God put in our life at that time. We remember her saying that “when someone closes the book, we want them to know that you got through it with your faith.” That was it. We knew she was the one to help us write it! She is a pro. She is funny, gets our Type-A personalities, is sensitive to our grief and gave the story the grace it deserved. She accepted us how we are without judgment, cried with us, laughed with us and became a dear friend. She came to see us in our hometown a few times and we spent hours upon hours talking and interviewing. She got to know us, our story and our family. Most of our communication was over the phone, e-mail and text. The entire process was over a year in the making. We are so pleased with Jennifer’s work on this book. She did a beautiful job!
In the book, you are both transparent about the depth of your emotional and spiritual challenges after losing Taylor. What motivated your transparency?
We were very transparent about our emotions because it’s the reality of a grieving heart. We have known from the beginning that God was using us for something much bigger than ourselves. From the very start, we knew that Taylor, and our situation, was to be used to help others. We didn’t want to gloss over the reality of our grief. It’s how we dealt with it. We were not going to pretend that all was OK after time has passed. We will never get over losing her. But, we are choosing to live life and to focus on helping others do the same. And, because of God’s grace, we are finding joy again.
You describe in detail the remarkable support you received. Why was it important to you to include that?
It’s important because many times people don’t know what to do with a grieving friend. Sometimes they chose to say nothing because they don’t want to say the wrong thing. But grief is very lonely for that reason. Many people keep their distance because they don’t want to enter the pain with you. But God is just amazing in how He brings the right people to you when you need it the most. Those people truly become God’s hands and feet. We were blessed to have people surround us and hold us up, carry us and catch us when we fell backwards. We wanted to acknowledge that there was no way we could have moved forward without them.
What is one of the main things you would like readers to know about Taylor?
That is a tough one. Every parent thinks their child is amazing. We think all of our three children are truly incredible gifts. Taylor was just so sweet—kind to others and so caring. The stories we have heard about her kindness have been just beautiful. Many of these stories we didn’t know until after she went to her heavenly home. She also had such a silly and goofy side to her. She was comfortable in her own skin and she had a great sense of humor (just ask her friends!). Taylor was an athlete and her favorite sport was volleyball. But one thing we will always hold close was the beautiful color blue of her eyes. They were a crystal blue. With her black eyelashes, those gorgeous eyes just shined. How we miss her laughter in the house....
We could go on and on about Taylor, but we’ll end with sharing that she loved God and she knew He was always there for her. Her favorite scripture was Luke 18:27: “What is impossible with man, it possible with God.” She knew that no matter what she faced, she could do it with God at her side.
How has the way Taylor lived inspired the way you live?
Many have said that Taylor was a “friend to all.” She had such an easy way to make others feel special. We feel proud to have raised such a great kid! Taylor has inspired us to always remember that everyone that comes into our life is there for a reason. God put that person there in our life at that very time and place for His glory, to be His hands and feet. Our hope is that our life, children, book and [Taylor’s Gift] Foundation give Him the glory.
In the book, you describe what you call many “Of course” moments along your journey. What are “Of course” moments?
Those are moments that most people would call coincidences. We see them as, “Of course, God did that!” I think everyone has “of course” moments, but we get so busy in our lives that we are blinded to those sweet little gifts that God hands to us. One of the moments was when I (Tara) was having a really hard time with my grief. I was out at the cemetery throwing myself a super-big pity party and sobbing like only a mother could do. I lay down on my back next to Taylor’s grave and put my hands over my eyes. I took a deep breath and when I opened my eyes, I looked at the blue sky. Only one large cloud was in the sky—and it was the perfect shape of a heart. Of course, God and Taylor gave me a sign that His love was with me. Just what I needed!
What is the mission of Taylor’s Gift Foundation, and what has the foundation accomplished so far?
Taylor’s Gift Foundation (www.TaylorsGift.org) has helped change the conversation about organ donation to a positive discussion about the gift we all have within us. We have helped register people not only in our home state of Texas, but all over the United States and even [other] countries. Since we began the foundation, Texas registrations have increased over 2.4 million, and registrations across the U.S. are up over 12 million.
We have been able to deliver millions of media impressions through national, regional and local digital and traditional media outlets. We have an award-winning public service announcement that drives traffic to official organ-donor registries across the country. Our foundation has sponsored float riders in the Donate Life Rose Bowl Parade Float for two years in a row, and we have granted scholarships to graduating seniors through our Taylor’s Gift Scholarship.
Our work is just beginning, but we are proud of the impact we have been able to make in a short amount of time! In fact, Taylor’s Gift Foundation was honored with the “Best New Charity in the Nation” for 2012 by the largest philanthropic award organization in the U.S.
What does the slogan “Outlive Yourself” mean?
That’s a great question! Ultimately, “outlive yourself” is open to interpretation, but in the purest sense, it means each of us have the ability to make the world a better place. One of those ways is by a very simple step of registering to become an organ donor and potentially share the gift we have within.
What would you like readers to know about organ donation?
That it should be a part of conversation just as life insurance or planning a family’s will. Organ donation is a beautiful gift of life, and a simple 90-second investment of time at www.TaylorsGift.org/register could potentially save dozens, not to mention impact thousands more through their stories and life’s work.
What do you hope the book accomplishes?
Todd’s grandfather used to tell him, “It’s not what happens to you that matters; it’s how you react to it that does.” It’s a quote we have tried to live by. We hope that people will react with faith after reading this book, no matter what their circumstance.
To whom should Christian retailers recommend Taylor’s Gift?
To anyone who needs to be inspired, to anyone who has been faced with loss or grief, to anyone who needs to be reminded that God’s grace is all we really need.
Is there anything else Christian retailers should know to help them promote Taylor’s Gift?
We receive lots of feedback and have great conversations with social media accounts. Please “Like” our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/taylorsgiftbook) and follow us on Twitter (www.twitter.com/taylorsgiftbook)!