That’s how close Marilyn Taylor was to her home on the Digby Neck when she was involved in a car accident May 11 that claimed her life. The car she was driving veered off the roadway and struck a tree.
Her husband, Dave Taylor, was at home trimming an apple tree to make wood chips for her garden when he got a call from a friend about the accident and immediately went to the car.
“I just had that feeling that I knew she’d be there, but in my head I was thinking, ‘no, please God no, not her,’” he says.
People tried to keep him from going to see his wife inside the car, but Dave insisted. He felt he had to see her for it to become real and wanted to give her one final ‘I love you’ and goodbye.
“She is the love of my life and she would have done the same for me,” he says.
Dave isn’t mad, and he isn’t bitter. He is frustrated and feels more could have been done by the healthcare system in Digby to help Marilyn.
He is adamant that the problem is not with the doctors themselves, but rather with the opaque system he says is impossible to navigate.
“The system has failed my family,” says Dave.
“My wife is gone.”
An opaque healthcare system
Marilyn had several chronic issues: diabetes, thyroid, asthma, osteoporosis, and high blood pressure. Taylor says the combination of these issues was the most concerning factor.
“I’m frustrated with the medical system that is basically not available. Marilyn had tried to get information on getting blood and bone tests for her chronic illnesses and was never informed on what her options were,” he says.
“It seems the system now is an assembly line of filling prescriptions. Our medical system operates like the survival of the fittest, and I’m really not happy with it now."
She went to the Annapolis emergency room one day when she was in town and feeling extremely unwell. Upon being admitted, she was asked why she was there and told she should be at the Digby hospital.
Marilyn’s health records were also sold without her or Dave’s knowledge to a group in Ontario after her doctor passed away. They called her and demanded she pay them hundreds of dollars for returned access.
“It was like extortion,” says Dave.
With her busy schedule, Marilyn couldn't find eight hours to wait in emergency. She had Saturdays off and would have spent her only free day waiting, sometimes only to be told they didn’t know what to do.
“What if it were the doctor’s wife that sat for hours and was told ‘you’re O.K., you’re O.K.?’ I doubt he’d have been satisfied with a lack of treatment,” says Dave.
“I see the problem and have lots of questions but don’t know the answer. What I do know is the system needs a drastic change.”
Dave says the problem isn’t just in Digby, but across the board in Nova Scotia.
“The system seems to be plugged up with people with minor issues and the people with major issues get turned away,” he says.
“It’s hard to think 'would this have happened' had she known what her options were.”
The life they shared
Dave has so many fond memories of Marilyn, who was not only his wife but also his best friend.
He knew when he met her he wanted to marry her. He even asked her that same day, only hours after meeting. He was 18, she was nearly 20 -- she said yes two weeks later.
43 years of marriage saw Dave and Marilyn take many adventures and accomplish many goals. They did missionary work in Romania and other places and both gave services at their Annapolis Basin Vineyard church.
They were also hugely involved within the Digby community, sometimes even housing troubled people in their five-bedroom house.
Their faith was the centre of their relationship and gave them a strong foundation.
“She was the love of my life and we did everything together. We enjoyed each other’s company. It wasn’t co-dependent, necessarily – we just complimented each other,” he says.
Before Marilyn left that last morning, Dave went to kiss her goodbye. She had a cold, so insisted he didn’t. Instead, he kissed his fingers and placed them on her forehead.
“I love you,” he said.
Those were their last words to each other.
Dave gave the Mother’s Day service at his church only a few days after Marilyn’s death. Many people told him afterwards it was among the best services they’d ever heard.
“I’m going to keep going, because that’s what she would do,” he says.
“We’re still a team. We’ve been together 43 years and that isn’t stopping now.”