Good morning. For anyone who doesn’t know me, my name is Garret Duhon. I met Chase when he was just a freshman at Lamar.
Being Chase’s friend could best be described as a roller coaster. Some ups, some downs, a lot of excitement, and occasionally, someone needed a motion sickness bag. When I was asked to speak today, I immediately accepted. I didn’t know what I would say. In a lot of ways I still don’t. There’s so much to the man we stand here today without. But I can think of no better way to be there for Chase one last time than to offer a few words in his memory. We had often spoken in the past couples months about his ‘bad’ Best Man speech he was going to give at my wedding. It was so endearing to see him be excited and nervous all at the same time. He was always so outgoing and the center of attention, but being able to be there for me and make it perfect mattered so much to him. I knew I had made the right choice in my best friend by how much he cared about it going well. But that was how Chase was and one of the many special things about him.
As I’ve been around those this week that knew him and heard their stories, I can’t help but see the compassion in their words and the fondness in their memories. The strength of conviction they had for their friend is everywhere you look. As I reflected this week, I couldn’t help but think about all the ways life will change [now that Chase is gone]. I’ll never see that beautiful smile again. That smile he would get when he knew he should be in trouble but wasn’t, because he was Chase and no one could ever stay mad at him. I’ll never wake up to find him on the couch in his boxers, and he won’t be there to stand by my side as I marry one of his other favorite people. But as the longest week of my life has gone by and the initial shock has passed, I begin to look forward. While there is so much that will never be the same, there are so many things to be thankful for. Because of all the good memories and time spent with him, I realize he brought to our lives certain gifts that remain despite his passing. His insistence on making friends a priority, on spending time with those that matter. His willingness to be there for anyone.
Many of you can remember Chase as always being the last person standing at the end of the night, but what I always remembered about him was that he was the first person to stand up when it mattered. Whether it was a friend in need or a soon to be ex-stranger that asked for help, Chase would be there. Lord knows, that boy never met a stranger. I spent the first part of this week as each of you did: mourning my best friend. The man who had his own room at everyone’s house because he would show up one night and make it his home. The ginger kid that had a fiery spirit to match that bright orange hair of his. The heart of gold that showed up one day and made a space for himself in our homes and our hearts. There are a lot of things that won’t ever be the same without him here, but the biggest thing that will be different is each of us. Chase Taylor was something special to each of us in a lot of different and intangible ways, but the one thing that was the same was that he was loved. As I stand here today on his behalf, I see a legacy and impact well beyond that of a 23-year-old man.