Ashley's Story

She will leave fingerprints all over your heart

12/15/2014

Remembering "Loudly" this Christmas

This is a throwback to one of my very favorite holiday memories during Ashley Kate's beautiful life.  I found myself standing in front of this very spot one day last week and tears fell from my eyes as I remembered this interaction with Santa.  My heart is breaking as the Christmas season surrounds us and our baby gherkin is so very far from us.  The holiday will never be the same.  Our family will never be together again and for us thats all that ever mattered at Christmas time.  My heart hurts so deeply everyday and yet it is magnified even more this time of year.    









Christmas Volumes, December 13, 2010
One morning early last week Ashley Kate and I ventured out to run a few errands. It was still early and there weren't many people out and about. Most at work, kids obviously in school and so the mall crowd was pretty light. A safe time of day for us to drop in, pick up a couple of gifts and pop back out.

As we walked down the corridor I could see the large tree decorated in the center of the mall and Ashley spotted it too. She began to sign "tree, lights" and I was talking to her about how big the tree was and how high it went. As we got closer we could see the line that had just started to form. Little ones all dressed up and waiting with their eyes sparkling to see the man in the red suit. Like I said, it was early and he had yet to arrive.

We proceeded past the line and into Dillards. I grabbed the two items I needed and did a little bit of extra shopping while I was there. Ash had her dinosaur in hand, her little mask on her face, and two backpacks filled with bags of fluids and IV pumps. She was enjoying the music that was playing and "dancing her dinosaur" back and forth to the sounds of jingle bells. Just a good time for us both. We finished our shopping and went back out the way we had come in.

As we walked past the tree and around to the front of it we signed and talked a little more about the ornaments and the colors. We had no intentions of visiting with the "big guy" knowing that a wait in that line would not be in her best interest. So what happened next took me by surprise, but blessed my heart in such a way that I'm not so sure it wasn't the most precious Christmas memory I have ever experienced.

Apparently as we were looking at the Christmas tree Santa had arrived, settled himself into the large chair and was readying himself for a long day at work. The line began to get excited at his arrival and the photographers were handing out their price lists. Then I noticed the big guy getting back up out of his chair. He left his place and approached my sweet Ashley with a look of kindness across his face. He knelt down in front of her, reached his white gloved hand out and brushed it across her cheek. I could hear her giggle behind her mask. I was taken in by the look in his eyes. They were full of compassion, full of kindness, and it seemed maybe even full of understanding although I could have just imagined the latter. I can't deny that in that moment tears had formed in my eyes as I watched this silent interaction between the "star of the show" and my youngest daughter. There were no words exchanged between the two, but the conversation they were having with one another spoke volumes to the heart of this mommy. He didn't stay long, but he was there long enough to make an impression on my heart. It was a moment that I'm sure my sweet Ashley will have no memory of, but one that I will never forget. As he stood up to leave her he reached down and patted her dinosaur on its back and then patted her on top of her head. I was barely able to get the words out of my mouth, but I choked back the tears and whispered "Merry Christmas" to the gentle man and he nodded his head as he walked back to his place.

I've thought about this interaction with Santa Claus and Ashley a lot over the last few days. I can't quite put into words how very much it meant to me. His kindness was so loud. So loving. So precious. I can't help but think how very much he became the hands and feet of Jesus to us that day. Don't get me wrong. I don't think in anyway that Santa is there representing Christ to the world in that mall, but to me on that day he in some small way did. I could imagine Jesus doing that very same thing as he watched my sweet Ashley so unaware of who He is sitting on the outside of the line that was there forming to meet with Him. I could see him reaching out his hand to touch hers, to brush his fingers across her pink little cheeks and then acknowledging what He already knew was special to her by patting that well loved dino on the back before patting her on top of her head.

I'm not crazy, guys. Really I'm not. I just have this image of Jesus in my mind loving on my sweet girl through the touch of that little old man who chose to put on that well known red suit this year. He didn't have to speak, to say a word, to explain his intentions. His eyes were there speaking the words instead and the message was loud and clear. That simple act meant more to me than the old man will ever know, but Christ knows. He does. He knows what it took to even get her home to be in that mall that morning and He knows if this will be her last Christmas or just one of many more. He knows so much more than I do about her life span and where we are headed.

As I sit here in our family room this morning with my sweet baby girl asleep in her room I'm thinking once again about that interaction between the two and I'm feeling so blessed to have witnessed such kindness toward her. The fire is crackling, the sounds of "Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas" play, and the candle's are filling the air with the smell of Christmas cookies. I don't have big plans for the day, just some laundry, bath room cleanings, and a little bit of gift wrapping. Its days like today, moments like the one I'm enjoying right now that mean more to me than anything. A day spent in our home, with our Ashley, at the holidays. I love my life. All the ups and downs. The pain and the joy. Its just so amazing to be her mommy. So amazing. I'm so grateful for today. I just thought I would share with you how "loud" this recent Christmas memory has been playing in my mind this morning. Hope you are just as blessed by it this season as I was. Take care my friends and Merry Christmas.

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12/02/2014

One More Christmas




Our Last Christmas with you
2012



If we could have one more Christmas...

One more Christmas with you.

We would do all the things you loved to do.

We would drive all night on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning too.

 We would take you to see the lights all over town and never slow down.

We would watch Frosty a thousand times plus one more.  

We would let you un wrap anything you wanted even if it wasn't yours.

We would let you open as many gifts as your little heart desired and I would never say , "Let's wait till it's Christmas day."

We would hold you close to our hearts and would never let go.

We would all pile into your bed and watch the lights twinkle overhead.

We would stay up as late as you wanted and never fall asleep.

We would take a thousand pictures.  Make a thousand memories that I could keep. 

We would laugh, and giggle, and play all day.

We would hang on so tight you would have to wiggle away.

We would make Christmas cards to send to all our friends.  With Blake and Allie and you in them.  

We would throw beach balls at the fan and toss your roosters up there too.  

We would memorize every single moment we had to spend with you.  

If we had one more Christmas to spend with you...


We would place you in the middle of these two and wait to see all the ornery things you'd do.

Christmas isn't really Christmas without you.

We love you.  We miss you.  We wish we could have one more Christmas with you..

I so desperately want to whisper to you that...Daddy loves Ashley... and Mommy loves Ashley... and Blake loves Ashley...and Allie loves Ashley... and Jesus loves Ashley...just one more time.


11/17/2014

Sweet Ash





I'm missing you tonight.  


I wish I could have tucked you in... Hung your IV's and TPN...  Put you in your jammies...Taken down your hair...Rubbed lotion on your feet...Gotten you a drink...Covered you with warm blankets...Kissed you on your cheeks...Made rooster sounds in your ear...Read Goodnight Moon for the thousandth time... 

I wish I had another night to sit next to your bed...watch you sleep...listen to you breathe...cry and plead and beg on your behalf...  

I hope you smiled today.  I hope you got to play.  I hope you walked and ran.  I hope you used your voice.  To sing..to laugh...to tell your story.  

Sweet Ash, your mom loves you today...tomorrow...and forever.

11/05/2014

I miss you



I miss you so much.  So much so that the pain of your absence silences me even though I want to scream.  I miss all of you.  Every bit.  Every single part.  It hurts so much to live this life when you are no longer a part of it.  The rain is falling again today and I find myself standing in it.  Allowing it to wash memories of you all over me.  It mingles with my tears as they fall from my eyes.

I'm struggling.  Every day seems to get harder.  I open my eyes and thoughts of you flood my soul.  I lay down at night and memories of you keep me from falling asleep.  My dreams are filled with haunting memories of your last days, your last moments, your final breath.  I scream so loud in my sleep that no sounds escape my lips.  Its one long nightmare that I can't get out of.

I'm so different now.  I'm no longer the same.  I was my best self with you here and I can see that I am just a shell of that person without you here.  What was this all about?  I can't figure it out.  I wouldn't ask you to leave the place you are now for anything.  I could never be that selfish, but if I could have found a way to help you stay here I would have.  I'm so very sorry we lost you.  I know you trusted us.  I know you believed we would keep you safe.  I did too.  I'm so very disappointed in who we are and what we were unable to do.

I miss you Ash.  More every moment that you are gone. You've been gone from us for 14 months.  How can that be?   My hope is that some day this life will end and when it does that we will be united once again.  No more tears.  No more sadness.  No more longing. I'm trying to convince myself of this.   Until then I will keep fighting my way to the end of each day knowing that it brings me one day closer to you.

I love you sweet girl.  More than you could have ever known.

10/06/2014

Rain

She loved the rain.  Loved to see it fall, and hear it fall, and feel it fall.

There have been a lot of rainy days since our sweet Ashley Kate left for her eternal home.  A lot of rainy days that cause me to long for her so deeply that I fear the emptiness I feel as the drops fall on my skin will never end.

Every time it rains I am overwhelmed with thoughts of my beautiful girl,  and the loss of her presence in our lives hurts deeper than I could have ever imagined it would.  I would give anything to sit next to her and allow the rain to fall on us just one more time.

It hurts so much when it rains and yet it heals a little too.  I think it hurts so much because it magnifies her absence,  and yet it almost heals my heart a little with every drop because I remember her so clearly her while its falling.  Does that make any sense at all?

There aren't many things in this life that help me feel her next to me.  All those things people say about their loved ones never really leaving... I'm sure you've heard them too...  there not true.  Ash is not near by.  She is not with us.  She is not here anymore.  She has gone away.  Gone somewhere so far from us that I can't reach, or feel, or hear, or see her anymore.  She is gone, and yet my faith tells me that she lives.  Somewhere.  Just not here.  Not on this earth.  Not in my home.  Not in my arms.  Her soul lives and sometimes Dave has to remind me that she is more alive now than she has ever been.  How is that? How does that work?  I have no idea to be perfectly honest.  I just have to believe that its truth because if its not I'll go mad.  If she's not living with her creator and all that remains of her is what lies on the other side of that stone etched with her name then I'll not survive this.  I will not.

My precious Ash was moved to her final resting place.  I never imagined anything would be harder than enduring the day we first took her there, but staring at the day of her final placement before us proved to be harder still.  The tears fell and my heart felt as though it would burst.  I missed her so much that I felt I couldn't catch my breath.  I was finally allowed to place flowers next to her name. I found that I never wanted to walk away now that her body is there, and her name sits upon the stone, and her flowers have been placed.  The combination of all three made it feel so very different. Knowing that what I held in my arms was just on the other side of HER stone made it so very hard to walk away.  HER name etched there, flowers that were chosen just for HER and ribbon that had HER name embroidered on it made it feel so very different.  This is HER space.  It is HER final place.  I can't go to her room and find anything of her there.  I can't sit in her playroom and be close to what is left of her.  I can't.  I can however go to HER space and know that what is left, all that remains of my daughter is on the other side of that stone.  How odd it feels to be living in this place.  The place where her soul, her spirit, her laughter, is gone and yet her body, her bones, her hair remains sealed in a vault behind a stone that now bears her name.  What a nightmare! One that I can't wake up from.

Oh how I miss her.  The rain hurts and heals.  I feel so desperate for her when it rains and yet I long to feel it rain.  If I could have my way I'd make it rain every day.  Just so her memory would spill down on me and cover me and soak me.

I'm beginning to plan how to memorialize her life.  Ways that will help her be remembered.  Its a confusing maze of what to do, how to do it, what channels to go through.  I think I had to get to the other side of her final placement before I could voice aloud what I hope to accomplish in her memory.  It all spilled out that very day and my husband sat across from me a little stunned I think.  I hadn't shared any of it with him or anyone.  I hesitate to share the plans for fear of not being able to accomplish them.  I would be so ashamed if I had made public what I want to do and yet fell short of making it happen.  I do have goals and plans and projects that are beginning to take shape.  I think its important to share that much.

Much to my disappointment the rain has stopped.  That always seems to happen, and with its absence I begin to feel sad and long for it to start up again.


9/08/2014

Kindness. It matters



Its daily.

 Still.

 Daily that I feel the sting, the pain, the separation that only death can bring.  Its a never ending, permanent feeling, that is caused by the distance of having one of your children on the other side of eternity.  I can't explain, or describe, or help anyone to understand just how much it hurts, unless of course you too have been forced to live on that other side as we are.

I stare into the photographs that I have of Ashley Kate scattered around our home.  I look deeply into her eyes and long to touch her, feel her, or hold her again.  I can see the twinkle that came from inside of her soul and made its way through the image of her eyes in almost everyone of them.  If only I could have another day to stare at her.  To memorize every little detail of her face.  I tried so hard to capture it all in my memory.  On her good days and her bad I would find myself looking intently at her features never wanting to forget who she was, how beautifully she was created...her eyes, her lashes, her brow...I loved her so very much.

The days continue to  pile one onto the other since we last saw her.  Time is a cruel, cruel element of this all.  I woke this morning longing to know who she would have been at 9 years old.  I used to lye in the early morning hours listening to her laughter spill down the hall and try to envision our Ashley at 10, 12, 14.  She is  now forever 8 years old.  She will never be more than 8 years and 25 days old.

Oh how much that hurts.  Forever 8.

A few weeks ago the doorbell rang.  Allie answered to find a bouquet of pink flowers lying there.  Someone thought of Ashley Kate that day.  They wanted me to know.

Last week the mailbox held a hand written reminder that she was thought of again.  That her memory brought happiness and encouragement to someone that day.  They wanted me to know.

A single birthday card arrived for Ashley Kate.  It was from my cousin.  Inside it held a description of how a little girl she had gotten to know changed her life.  She remembered her special day and wanted me to know.

A couple of her nurses from years back have taken the time to write, remember, and share with us the difference she made in their lives. Not because they had to, but because they wanted us to know.  I miss you girls so very much.  Forever grateful to have had you in our lives.  Thank you for your kindness toward her.  Toward me.  

These are just a few of the acts of kindness bestowed upon us a year after the loss of our Ashley that will forever make me grateful.  One of the biggest lessons I learned in this life from my daughter and the meeting of her birth mother was that everyone deserves kindness.  Simple, little, acts of loving on one another.  Never expecting anything in return.  Just being kind because they are human and because they are human they may very well be in need of receiving kindness from another.  I hope to never forget that lesson.

I struggle to figure out what we are meant to do since the day of Ashley Kate's departure.  I knew who we were and what we were meant for while she was here.  Its the days since she left that we feel lost, and confused.  What is my purpose?  Who am I supposed to be?  Never have I wondered until this time.  I'm not an advocate.  Not a speaker.  Not a  writer.  Not a life changer.  To many peoples disappointment I am none of these things.  I'm just a mom.  A mom who is lost and broken and left confused.

I share the pain, the grief, and the ugly emotion here in this place because it is what is left.  It is where we are in this journey.  This story of our beautiful Ashley and now the story of the loss of our beautiful Ashley.   So many people mistake this journal for something it is not.  Something it was never intended to be. This is our experience.  Not written to reflect everyone's experience. Just a recording of ours.  Just the experience of one family in the state of Texas who were blessed to have loved the most beautiful little girl we've ever known.  Some people read my journal and assume I am speaking for all the grieving families in this world.  I am not.  Have no intention of doing so.  Many read and conclude that we think we are the only family to have ever lost.  I assure you that we don't, but I will remind you that I'm not writing their story.  I'm writing ours.  I'll say again that I am not a spokes person for grieving families.  I'm just Ash's mom.  Thats it.  They read my words and thoughts and grief and assume I am curled into a ball in the corner absent from the lives of our other children.  They make the leap from the cries of my heart spilled out onto these pages and have judged that I am no longer engaged or loving or participating in Blake or Allison's lives.  Never have you been more wrong.

 How easy it is for us all to pass judgement on one another.  I hate that part of human nature.  Feeling as if we have the right to advise everyone else on how they should be living or in our case grieving.   Instead of maybe just reading, listening, and praying for one another.

Our family still hurts and I imagine that we will always hurt from the loss of our sweet Ashley Kate.  Each one of us struggle on different days, shed tears in private and sometimes a few when we are together.  We remember, talk about, and mention Ashley Kate in our every day conversations.  She is just as much a part of us as she ever was. We learned to be who we are because we had her with us.  To try not to talk about her would be so unnatural.  It wouldn't be who we are.

I wrote this today to those of you who continue to bestow kindness toward us.  I wanted you to know how much your acts of kindness mean to me.  I wanted to say Thank you.  Thank you for remembering.  Thank you for loving her.  Thank you for letting us know.

8/29/2014

Ashley Kathrine Adams

Remembering the little girl who came to change our world



Ashley Kate...
the tiny gift that changed our lives, our world,
and our forever.



Memories.
Remembering the moments...the JOY...the blessings.




She could speak a thousand words without a voice.



Her eyes said it all.



That silly grin....expressive eyes...and infectious giggle.



Moments.
There are these moments in our lives that completely take our breath away...
a feeling...an emotion...
that transform every moment lived after.



JOY.
Found in the little things.



Cherish.
I've often wondered what thoughts were hidden inside her beautiful soul.
So full of wonder...So full of life...
We cherish her memory and the moments spent with her.



Determined to make the most out of the days we were given.  
Living like there would be no tomorrow.


Every drop of rain on her skin, 



Or tiny flake of snow upon her tongue


brought her JOY like I've never known.  We learned to view the world through
Ashley's eyes.  It became a more beautiful place because she was in it.


Ashley Kate briefly came into our lives and changed everyone who ever loved her.  This tiny girl with eyes that spoke volumes and a laugh that filtered into our souls.  She lived each moment without fear or worry or concern for her tomorrow.  Fully embracing her world.

We will never be the same...forever changed.

We love you and miss you sweet girl.  Forever. Until the day we meet again.

  Love, Daddy, Mommy, Blake, and Allie.