Ashley's Story

She will leave fingerprints all over your heart


What we should have felt...

...was hope.

What I expected to feel...

was hope.

We lay awake in the early morning hours, silently, knowing the other was awake...still...there were no words spoken for quite a while.

"I didn't expect to feel such pain today."

That's what he said to me...the tears fell from my eyes and covered my pillow.  It was an overwhelming, heavy, suffocating pain that enveloped us both.

I hesitated to even try to put anything into words, but to be honest I didn't expect the pain of her absence to come over us the very moment our eyes opened this Easter morning.

Hope is what I thought this holiday would bring to our exhausted, broken, shattered hearts.  It did not.

We went through the day struggling.  We cried.  We hurt.  We were silent.  We were angry.  We were confused by it all.  Still are.

The letters H O P E hang on the wall in her play room.  I can't tell you how many times I have felt like ripping them down off that wall in the last 8 months.  There was a moment as she lay in her hospital bed underneath those stupid letters that spell that stupid word and I knew, it came so violently to me, and I knew there was no more hope.  We were no longer hopeful that she would recover.  I have resented those letters and that word and what it once represented in our life for so long.  Its ridiculous, I know, but its the truth.

Then Easter came.

 Our first one without her.

  For some stupid reason I had convinced myself that I would feel comforted and hopeful knowing that because of His resurrection I would one day see my sweet Ash again.  I could not have been more wrong. We felt devastated.  We did.  We felt betrayed and broken and destroyed.  What should have brought comfort to our aching souls only seemed to hurt all the more.  I don't get it.  I've spent this week trying to understand why it hurt us so deeply to endure this holiday without her here.  I know in my heart where she is and that her celebration was more than I could ever comprehend.  Still my soul, the deepest part of who I am, is screaming.  It is.  I wish it weren't, but it is.  Still.

We did not feel what we thought we should have felt.  It gets harder every day.  Don't be fooled when people tell you that it will get easier.  It will not.  It does not.


A Brief Moment

One moment she was here...the very next she was gone.

It seems as though her 8 years were so brief, so short, that it was only a moment that she was here with us, part of us...the biggest part of us. 

But now the moments without her here are dragging by so slowly I wonder when will it ever stop.  She filled so much of my day to day moments to overflowing that now I struggle to get from one to the next.  

For a brief moment I saw her...I looked into her eyes...and it  caught me off guard.  There is only one person on this earth with eyes like Ashley Kate's and when I turned around I saw her there.  

There are images in my mind from her last moments on this earth that only I witnessed.  I am haunted by those images when I close my eyes.  Some nights I can't escape the moment and I'm so grateful it is my burden, my pain, and my moment to carry alone.  I couldn't bare the thought of Dave having to live with it.  Or Blake or Allie carrying it for the rest of their lives.  It was my eyes that opened and realized she was leaving us.  She had held on through the night...she had waited till morning...she had wanted us to be with her... In those awful moments I knew... I knew what I had realized just a moment before...and we surrounded her and held her and loved her through her last moment.

Time is a funny thing.  The  moments that make up this life are so brief.  "A vapor" is what we are told...and yet each moment since she left has felt as though I'm living through an eternity without her.  

As I sit and sort through files and files of images and pictures and clips of video for Blake's senior banquet I realize how amazing, how wonderful, and how incredibly happy our lives once were.  Ashley Kate's smile, and her twinkling eyes, and her laughter, and her beauty are weaved all throughout the very best moments of our lives.  

For a moment she was really, really beautiful...she was really, really happy...she was really, really here.  She was.  If only for a moment.