Ashley's Story

She will leave fingerprints all over your heart


The most beautiful sound and New sight

I lay next to Dave in our bed for the first time in more than 3 weeks tonight...we talked...we struggled through some very hard conversation...we fell silent for lack of comforting was still...quiet...

then we heard laughter spill out of her and trickle down the hallway to our ears.

"That is the best sound in this whole world," I shared with him.

She giggled loudly, uncontrollably, as the joy inside of her came tumbling out.  She laughed aloud twice tonight.  It soothed the ache in our hearts for a moment.  It was like a medicine taking the pain of the silence away if even for just a moment.

I have no idea what she found so silly.  I just know that my world is right when her laughter is in it.  As it became silent again my heart ached with the thought of how we will ever survive if our hallway becomes silenced never to hear that precious girls laughter travel down it again.  I simply can not fathom a world without my sweet Ashley Kate in it.

Tonight as we drove along with Ash in the back seat looking out the windows we found ourselves in the midst of unbearable conversation.  Painful, angry, confusing, words being shared between two best friends, two struggling parents, two lost souls in this horrible, horrible place.  Its not what we want...its just what is happening.  It hurts so deeply and we have no other safe place to let it all spill forth except for each other.  I will tell you quite bluntly that this sucks.  It sucks that I can not go to Dave and have him make this better.  That I can not depend on him to "fix" or "provide" or "make right" this situation we are in.  It sucks that he has to struggle with not being able to do any of that for us.  Its what he does.  He fixes whatever is broken. He provides whatever we need.  He makes the wrong in our family right again.  He is the husband, the father, the provider, the leader.  He protects us from anything that threatens us.  This struggle is intense.  It is.
While we continued on the drive tonight Ash spotted something.  She alerted us to it and began to sign as much and as fast as she could all that she was seeing outside of her window.  Perspective.  Its what this precious gift of a child gives to us.  We were so caught up in the pain that we were missing the joy of the drive with our sweet girl.  How I fight so very hard NOT to let that happen and yet it does anyway!  We pulled in and parked next to the wall that caught Ash's attention.  It was covered in pictures that had been painted years back by a leadership class from one of the local high schools.  On the wall they had painted all of her favorite things and my girl spotted them as we were driving along. outside her window from her seat in the car.  We decided to unload her and allow her to get an up close view of what she was seeing.  She reached and touched the wall.  I looked at her face and the joy and wonder on it as she looked at larger than life drawings of a caterpillar, a lady bug, a tree, a flower, a sun, a butterfly, a snail, a rain cloud.  I sat in the car and the tears rolled down my face as her daddy pushed her in her chair along the wall so she could touch them all.  I snapped pictures on my phone through the window.  I would have missed it all if she had not been in the car tonight.  I would have never slowed down enough, stopped crying long enough, or even cared enough to notice, but my sweet Ashley...she notices...she sees the joy in this world and finds beauty in the simplest of things.  She has always had this ability to notice what most of us would never even see.  I love that about my girl.  I love that God created her in this way.  I have a feeling this new "wall" will be on our daily itinerary as we take our drives.  There are certain places and things we make sure to drive by each and every day for her.  She gets so much joy out of seeing the rooster outside the Regio restaurant, the ABC auto parts sign, the elephant and zebra at the putt putt course, the chicken on the Chick fil a signs, the W on the Whataburger sign and the palm trees they have planted outside, the lobster at Red Lobster, and now the "painted wall".

There are a lot of things about tonight that I don't want to remember and I'm sure will fade in time, but the sounds of her laughter and sight of her little face taking in the paintings on the wall are things I won't ever forget.  If I were writing in a gratitude journal tonight this is what I would be grateful for today.


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