Ashley's Story

She will leave fingerprints all over your heart


I don't write much anymore.  I don't share nearly as often as I once did.  People ask why.  They think they want to know how we are doing.  Truth is they truly don't want to know.  I realized this shortly after losing Ashley Kate.  Its hard to hear the truth.  Hard to see that what once was beautiful has become so broken.

I can say that our children are continuing to thrive.  Blake has moved on to college.  Allison Brooke has begun her junior year of high school.  He plays baseball.  She cheers both for her high school and competitively.  Each of them thrive in the areas they are most comfortable with. They are strong and beautiful and talented.  Living their lives to the best of their abilities and always remembering in a piece of their hearts the little girl whom we lost.   They loved her.  They talk about her often.  We smile when we remember some things and we cry when we remember others.  Grief sucks.  Even at 16 and 18.

The beginning of her life was so very scary.  The end of her life was so very sad.  The middle... all of those wonderful, amazing, beautiful days of her life between the beginning and the end...that is what truly mattered.  She had an incredible life.  She was so happy.  So loved.  So full of joy.  Laughter.  Happiness.

Today is the second day of school.  Its been a brutal one for us.  Painful.

A year ago this week we woke up to a nightmare that has yet to end.  The second day of school, at 6:48 a.m. our beautiful Ash left our home and went on to her eternal one.  The tears have not stopped falling.  My heart has not even begun to heal.  Our home remains broken.  This family forever changed...broken...never again whole.  One of us is missing...she is gone...we have been left behind.

Since her departure the loss of joy, laughter, and sparkle that only Ash had has left us so empty.  Our home so quiet.  Our lives so void of meaning.

The truth is that time does not heal wounds this deep.  Hearts do not mend once they are broken.  Dreams that are shattered are not replaced or put back together again.  Loss is loss.  Death is forever.  The separation is painful.  Always painful.  Every moment hurts.

I think I can safely say that we have not known joy even in the smallest amount since the loss of our sweet Ash.  I think I can safely say that we may never know it again.  Not in this life.

I miss every part of her.

This week is proving to be hard .  Cruelty in its highest form.  The anniversary of her departure is hanging so heavily here among us that it becomes hard to even breathe.  We feel the loss daily, but it is so magnified lately that I can't seem to move.  Can't seem to get up.

Everything about our life has changed.  Our family.  Our home.  Our faith.  Nothing is the same.  We are forever changed by the life and the death of the most beautiful gift we had ever received.  It all seems so very wrong.

The memory of those last days, flailing about inside of ourselves, realizing that we were helpless, finally seeing that regardless of our pleas, our cries, our prayers that she would be lost is maddening.  It was an impossible place to be in.  We had no options.  No matter what choices were made there would be pain...there would be suffering...there would be loss.  I'll never understand the purpose in her pain.  I'll never heal from the suffering she endured.  I'll never get it.  I struggle daily to find the love, kindness, and mercy in any of it?  I fight against what I know is truth and what I felt, and witnessed, and helplessly watched happen to my daughter.  I hang on to my faith as tightly as I can because without it I have no hope of ever seeing her again, and yet everything I thought I knew, thought I believed, has been shaken.

In my world I am displaced.  There is not another person whom I know that understands the thoughts and feelings that I find inside of me.  I am no longer among the transplant community.  I am no longer among the community of parents raising a special needs child.  I feel so lost.  I struggle to find my place.  Where do we belong now?  Dave and I hang on to the memory of who we were with her and try desperately to find who we are supposed to be without her.

Friday will be the anniversary of her death.  I hate knowing that.

  As Allie wrote to Ashley Kate on the morning of what should have been her 9th birthday, "I hate living this life without you."

 Never have I read more truer words.



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