Ashley's Story

She will leave fingerprints all over your heart


Conversations with Allie

Sitting around the dinner table last night Allie made this statement.

"Did you know that people who's brains don't work right are called retarded?"

Stunned, Shocked, and surprised to hear her use that word I asked, "Why would you say that?"

"Because I learned that today."

"Where?" I wanted to know.

"At school. If your brain doesn't work the way its supposed to then its retarded." she replied.

"Lets not say that anymore, ok? I don't like that word and I think it might hurt people."

Innocently she said, "Alright, but why does that word hurt?"

Good question I thought to myself. Why was my heart hurting at that moment? Why had the word shocked and stunned me and caused me to struggle for words? The stinging in my heart was too much to ignore. I tried to explain.

"Did you know that Ash's brain doesn't work right? Some people think she is that word."

"Well, I don't think she is!"

"I don't either, but her brain doesn't work the way its supposed to yet and I don't know if it ever will."

I could tell she too felt the sting. When applied to her baby sister the sound of that word was now not so innocent.

This morning I still struggle as I recall the conversation. Ashley Kate's brain is injured. It has been since birth. Something about it didn't form the way it should have before she was born. Does that make her retarded? She has spent multiple hours struggling for adequate oxygen on several occasions in her life. Does that mean she is retarded? I can't explain why it is so hard for me to type that word. It just is.

Earlier in the day Allie had come running into the kitchen to get me. Any time the older kids come running after one of us panic sets in. "What? What's wrong?"

"She talked. She really did. I heard her. Do you believe me?"

"Sure I do."

They had been playing with Ash's therapy ball in the nursery and as it rolled away she said, "Uh-oh". Not once but twice. I never heard her say it yesterday, but Allie insisted that she did.

This morning as I fought to keep my eyes closed as tightly as I could I heard this sound, "Uh-oh". Loud and clear. So clear I thought I was dreaming until I looked across the room into Ash's crib. You should have seen the smile on her face and the applause she gave to herself.
She said it. Allie was right. My heart is SO proud!

In our home, with our Ashley, the one God gave to us, the little things are big. One big scoot across the floor. A roll from side to side. The sound of "Uh-oh" coming from the crib. It may not sound like much to some, but to us it means so very much. We rejoice with each new event. We celebrate 2 feet as if it were 2 miles. We smile so big you would think the world had been handed to us on a platter. I love that! The feeling her success brings to our hearts. The gratitude that we feel. Life is better this way. We now live as if each day were miraculous and each moment a treasure. Nothing Ash does is taken for granted. She is alive. She is growing. She is happy. She is home.

I don't think I will ever forget the words that were spoken to us on the last day of Ashley Kate's transplant evaluation. "Now we have to decide "if" we are going to list her. We have to decide if there is someone more worthy of the organs than Ashley. Someone who would have a better quality of life." I think I know why the word we discussed last night over dinner stings so very bad. Although it wasn't spoken that day it was implied. Its the one word that stood between her imminent death and her chance at a longer life. Yes, I know all too well that Ashley Kate's brain is a little slower than it should be and that it is missing some very important mylenation around those precious nerves, but her life IS miraculous. It is nothing short of that, and it is through those miracles He has taught us how to truly live. For that I am forever grateful.


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