Loving and Being Loved by her was the most amazing gift.
I wish you could have known how it felt. When she wrapped her little arms around your neck you KNEW what if meant to be loved. It was real...genuine...unconditional...amazing.
In those early days, those 16 or so days before we met her, we prayed daily that she would be able to give and receive love. Our earnest prayer was for her to know how much we all loved her, and for her to be able to love us all back. I desperately wanted her to love Blake and Allison back. It was the focus of my prayers for our tiny baby girl. The rest didn't matter to me. There was nothing they could tell me about her that would make any difference. She was loved, she was wanted, she was going to be ours, and I wanted her to have the ability to love.
OH HOW ABUNDANTLY God answered that prayer. I could have never imagined what it would feel like to be loved by Ashley Kate.
Its been a little while. A while since I've shared any thoughts, any moments, any stories,any emotions... or since I've shared anything at all.
There have been so many days that I have stopped myself from writing.
We miss her.
Every thing about her.
Despite the passing of time we feel the loss deeply. Tears fall and there are days when we can't speak. Days when it seems as though breathing takes all of our energy and there is nothing left to say. There are also days when we talk late into the night about how much it hurts to be separated from her. How much we miss her.
I've come to understand that there is only one person in this world who knows the depth of the pain of losing her that I feel. Only one other who loved her as much as I did. I lay my head down on the pillows next to his every night and he watches the tears fall from my eyes helpless to do anything other than just allow it to happen. Everyday we find ourselves laughing, remembering, and crying. Not a day goes by that Dave and I don't talk about our sweet Ash. She remains such a huge part of who we are.
You don't move on.
You don't get over it.
You breathe, you move, you cry, you exist, and you live because you don't have the power to control life and death, but you never stop missing, loving, or grieving the loss of one of your children. There is a piece of you that is gone and you feel that emptiness daily.
I'm writing again.
Not for any other reason than remembering and never wanting to forget the beautiful details of her life...her story. I realized a couple of weeks ago that there were so many things that Blake and Allison still don't know about her story. They were only 10 and 7 when she was born. One day as Allie and I were in the car visiting I began to talk about Ashley's birth story and how we watched the hand of God move in our lives during those days. Much to my amazement she had never heard so much of it before. Many, many things we had protected their little hearts from. They were just so young at the time.
So I'm writing a book for them.
Just the two of them. Recording the days before she was born, the stories of God moving our hearts toward her, how He brought her to us, and the many ways in which we saw Him show up throughout her life. My hope is that through the writing of her story our hearts will begin to heal from the hurt we now feel since He took her back. That somehow the 4 of us might begin to see or maybe even understand a little of what He is doing in our lives now without her here. As a part of her story I'm compiling all the many messages and letters that have been sent to us over the years. The stories of how her life impacted others. I want to say thank you for sharing with us over the years. I have thousands and thousands of comments and messages from you. We have letters and stories that you have shared. In 8 years she made more of a difference than I will make in my lifetime. I want for Blake and Allison to know the many incredible ways that God used their baby sister. How without ever speaking a word she changed so many lives. I know that the telling of these stories will inspire and encourage them as they go on to live their lives.
And maybe somehow in the writing of her story the burden of the guilt I bare will be lightened?
Guilt is a heavy, heavy weight. I feel it daily. I struggle with guilt. Its an ugly little piece of my grief. It has taken months and months for me to finally admit to Dave how much of it I fight on a daily basis. Not guilt over how we raised Ashley Kate, or how we allowed her to live her life, or even how we eventually lost her, but guilt over being who I am. I feel guilty that I'm not this amazing mother who has moved on to do great things. I feel guilty that I am not an advocate or a fundraiser or an inspiration like so many other moms have gone on to be. I feel guilty that I have no desire or calling to be or do any monumental things to change the world of transplant, or special needs parenting. I'm just not that grieving mother. I'm not. Much to the disappointment of so many. I wish I were someone else, or someone more, but I can't make myself do what I am not called to do. So I continue to bare this weight, this disappointment, and its suffocating me.
I was called to be Ashley's mom. I have no doubts about that. I'll forever know that I did the very best I could with her. I'll stand before God someday and I know that I will have loved her with every part of me and given my all to Him as I parented her. He called me to love her and I did. More than I could have ever imagined was possible I loved her. The flip side of loving her so deeply is the missing of her even deeper. The loss of having her in our lives has been devastating. There is no getting around that.
So I'm writing again. Not silent anymore. I will occasionally share some of those stories here. I will share memories of her too. I will continue to share our grief as well. I will share images of her memorial once it is completed and I will share with you details of the charity that is being established in her memory and as part of her legacy. For those of you who are still here, still loving us, and still supporting us with your encouraging words and sincere prayers we thank you.