Ashley's Story

She will leave fingerprints all over your heart



Trying to put into words the thoughts and feelings that swirl around in my head and in my heart lately is proving very difficult. I think on the outside I'm doing a pretty good job of appearing as though its all ok, but on my insides there are two of us who know my fears. Hiding anything from Him is a futile attempt because He resides there and knows whats going on.

There is a picture I saw once of a water pitcher that had been dropped and shattered into hundreds of tiny pieces. The pieces had been collected and painstakingly glued back together to resemble the shape of the pitcher prior to it being dropped. I stared at the pitcher for a while and thought to myself, although it is once again a water pitcher it will never again be a water pitcher. Its ability to hold water is no longer. Lately it seems as though this picture is what comes to my mind when I sit and attempt to share. I've been trying to not see it each time I sit down at this keyboard, but the honest truth is that every time I come to this journal its what I see. So then I close it without writing a word because I don't really have the words to share.

That pitcher reminds me of my heart. It was shattered, broken, and scattered into a hundred pieces last summer as I watched my sweet Ashley suffer. I stood there helpless to change the situation we had been placed in and I stand here in our home this morning helpless to change the consequences of that situation. I am merely a broken pitcher whose pieces were scattered, collected and glued back together. I myself didn't put my heart back together. My hands have done nothing but shake for the last 16 months. I could not complete such a task. I do feel as though He has been putting my heart back together. Slowly. Its not without cracks. Not without leaks. Not without flaw. It does however resemble the shape of what it once was though.

Life today is good. Sweet. Precious. Our Ashley rests in her own bed, plays in the playroom, and giggles in our home. It looks as though things have settled enough for us to put the brokenness behind us, but yet nothing has changed in her circumstance. Nothing is different. She still lives with a broken body. She still is kept alive by a liquid collection of minerals that are mixed inside a pharmacy each week. She still hosts a long piece of plastic inside of her chest that was threaded up her hepatic vein toward her heart, tunneled through her tissues, and hooked into the top of her superior vena cava. It is the longevity of that piece of plastic that determines her future. So nothing has changed. A bowel did not spontaneously or divinely grow and appear inside of her abdomen. Its not there. What one was there is no longer.

So as I look into the smiley face of our 6 year old I experience many emotions that seep through the cracks of my heart. It has been repaired never to be the same again. In some ways thats a good thing. I've learned a little more through the brokenness about the awesomeness of our Father. My faith has been strengthened. Yet at the same time my faith has been weakened. I don't know if any of you can relate or make sense of those last two sentences. I see Him for Who He is and yet do not understand His ways. I realize that without Him life is not sustained and though I've always known this I REALLY know this now. She does not live another minute or breathe another breath without Him, and neither do I. I am encouraged and I am afraid.

There are cracks left between the pieces of my heart that can not be ignored. They are there. Just as I saw them there in the image of that water pitcher. Yet what leaks into those spaces is a mixture of joy and sadness. Tears and laughter. Precious and painful. I can't remain the same person, wife, or mother that I was before July of last year. I'm different. I appreciate a little more and I cry a lot more too. I am happy and still I hurt. I am more grateful for the little things that make up our days and I miss some of the bigger things that I realize will never be. They have been stolen from her. From us.

The days ahead of us are just as uncertain as they were a year ago. I'm hoping for another today, another tomorrow, another Christmas, another everything. For I know one day there will stop being another for us. Still in the exact same place I feel as though I've been before. Still broken, but picked up and repaired. Pieces. No longer scattered, but collected and placed back together allowing the hurt and fear to seep through the cracks a little less frequently than they did this time last year. I'm grateful for that. For His goodness and His presence around us.


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