Ashley's Story

She will leave fingerprints all over your heart


What do I say

I could write forever.

 Write a thousand words for a thousand days and still not say what it is my heart wants to say.

I don't write often, but its not for lack of thought.

I don't write much anymore because I don't believe that I can make anyone who reads these words understand.

And so...everyday I hear myself say,  "What do I say?"

What do I say now that she's gone?

Another child is being ushered into heaven tonight.  At least I hope thats how it works when our children die.

It seems so very wrong that our children spent everyday of their short lifes fighting to live.  What is so easy for most of us came at such a great cost for them.  Transplant life is miserable.  Not many happy endings...a few of course...just not many.  Not us anyway.   Eventually it catches up with our babies and we lose them.

  I'm struggling with assumptions,..struggling to truly believe that an example, a story, a recounting of someone's experience in God's word is to be assumed that it happens that way for all of us.  If so then why couldn't God have just said, "this is how it will be for all of you."???  I read over and over again how Lazarus was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom and I can only hope that my sweet Ash was carried too.  I've spent many a night tormented with thoughts of what if they didn't come for her and she was alone.  This is just one of the many thoughts I struggle with sharing here for fear that no one could ever understand how I can wonder such things.

My faith has been tested severely the past 16 months since Ashley Kate left this life.  Everything I believe, thought I was sure of, without a doubt would proclaim from the mountain tops, has been swirling around in my head and making sense of it all is not so easy to do anymore.  I think grief has an ugly way of causing doubt and confusion and it leaves us grasping to hang on to truths.  At least thats how it has affected me.

Its been 16 months since I held her and felt the weight of her body against my chest.  How can that be?  Dave shared with me just last night how very hard it is to grasp that this is really how life is going to be.  She is gone.  Not coming back to us.  Even now, 16 months later, we are still trying to accept that its over.  He ended our conversation with these words, " and so all I have left is the hope that we will one day see her again."  Its all there is.

I can't hear her anymore.  I don't know how to explain what I mean by that statement except to say that I lay in my bed at night and can no longer hear the memory of her giggle spilling down the hall.  Its gone now. I know its been gone for 16 months, but I used to be able to hear it.  Along with her pumps beeping and her crying out.  But now I can't remember it any more just by closing my eyes and concentrating on it.  The realization that it has left my memory has wrecked me.

I read that " in His presence there is fullness of joy".  The book and verse escape me now, but I did read it in the Bible not long after she left.  I've kept that close to my heart all these days as I can only imagine what that truly means.  Ashley Kate was joy.  The only example of it I have ever known in my life.  So to read that there is FULLNESS of joy in God's presence does comfort me as I try and imagine what she must feel now as she stands in His presence.  Oh how I hope she laughs.  How I hope that her voice spills out of her with laughter and giggles every day.  Please let her laugh.

What a mess it is to live on this side of eternity... away from your child.  My thoughts are consumed with how much longer, how many more hours, how many more days until we are all there. It hurts so much to know that we are finished parenting her.  To know that we will never again be known to her as her mom and dad.  I believe she will know us, but I do not believe that I will be her mommy once we are reunited.  Again, I can't explain that to you.  Its just what I believe.  8 years was not enough.  It went so fast.

It doesn't get any easier.  It never stops hurting.  We think of her daily.  We miss her desperately.  Never would I ask her to come back, to give up what she has now gained, but the longing in my heart to smell her hair, kiss her cheeks, hold her hands, has not gone away.

What do I say?  I don't say much.  I'm pretty quiet now.  My thoughts are consumed with her memory and my heart is forever broken.

Each day we go through the motions of this life, but never far from our thoughts and never out of our hearts is the emptiness that we were left with the moment she was taken from our lives.  Grieving doesnt end with the passage of time.  You move with it, breathe with it, live with it because you aren't given any other choice.  It becomes a part of you.  A part you hide deep inside your soul so that others can't see.  Its a deep, ugly, painful secret that sneaks up on you as you wash the dishes, drive down the street, walk through the grocery store, and lay your head down at night.  Tears fall silently down your face and no one knows why.  I found myself alone in the house last week, washing dishes, and with the falling of the water from the faucet my tears mingled in a puddled in the sink.  I whispered the words to the song I would sing as Ashley Kate lay there with her hair spilled over into my hands as I washed it each week.  I could see her there so clearly and my heart hurt so deeply,  Blake had come in during this time and I had no idea he was even there until I felt his strong arms wrap around me and heard him whisper that he loved me.  He let me cry.  Didn't try and stop me.  Just let me cry till I could cry no more.  Its not often that they see me fall apart.  Oh how I love these children.  Love how much they loved her.  Love how gentle they are with Dave and I as we struggle through such loss.

Blake and Allie are beautiful people.  They are these amazing young adults who were shaped by the life of a precious baby sister whom they loved deeply.  I see the impact she had on them almost every day.  They will live better, love deeper, and change their part of the world because God chose them to be her big brother and big sister.  She was such a gift to each one of us.

What do I say?

As another transplant child makes his way "home" tonight Heaven feels so very far away.  I pray God holds our children tight as our arms ache for them.  No more pain, or sadness, or fear for either of them.