Ashley's Story

She will leave fingerprints all over your heart


Remembering Christmas' Past

Ashley Kate's last Christmas 

I've spent a lot of time this Christmas season thinking about the reasons behind the very difficult struggle that Christmas seems to bring since her passing.  I've searched my heart, my grief, my thoughts, and my memories as I've wondered why her absence seems so very magnified during the season.  Many things have come to mind as I thought back to our Christmas' with our precious Ashley.  Stories that I hadn't thought of in years, memories that I'd tucked deep inside my heart, and photographs of her that I hadn't looked through in a while all came tumbling to the forefront during my search for the reasons behind the hurt. Reasons other than the fact that her physical presence is no longer here with us.  

 Christmas has always been a favorite time of year for me.  I love the lights, the decor, the feeling of "home" that comes along with the season when our front door opens up and welcomes us in after being away for an afternoon out running errands, a day spent at the office, or a semester of school ending.  There is just something special about the way our house feels during this season.  December 2004 was just as special as all the other Decembers in our home.  Blake and Allison were 9 and 6 that year and the photographs and video show the excitement in their eyes and on their faces that Christmas day.   Christmas just becomes more amazing, more special, almost magical when you view it through the eyes of your own children. It had been a blessed day.  One I wanted to remember forever as Dave and I lay down for bed that evening.  As we lay there talking about all the things that made us smile that day I remember asking Dave if he had enjoyed Christmas that year and his answer was one I'll never forget.  "Yes! It was a great day, and I already know what I want for Christmas next year." That instantly made me giggle.  I thought to myself "he is such a kid!" and I LOVE that about my husband.  He keeps me laughing and smiling all the time and that night his answer was just what I had come to expect from him...except for just one thing... He wasn't finished with his answer...As I was still smiling from his response to my question He continued to say..."I wan't to find our baby. I'd like to have our 3 children together for Christmas next year."

That Christmas night of 2004 we were finally on the same page at the same time, and I lay there in the dark smiling ear to ear as tears were forming in the corners of my eyes.  After almost 13 years of being married, planning and raising our family, discussing how to grow our family, we had both arrived at the same place...finally.  That night we decided by Christmas 2005 we wanted to adopt the baby I had dreamed of for years.  I had no idea where "she" was that Christmas night or who she would be, but I believed in a God who loved me enough to give me the desire of my heart. That Christmas night I drifted off to sleep with dreams of what He would do in the life of our family over the next year.  

This memory is just one of the many that I think I discovered this season as to why I miss her so at Christmas time.  We dreamed of her that night, just the two of us laying there in our bed, already falling so in love with her even though we had yet to find her...but God knew who she was, when she was being conceived, how she would come to us, and the long but oh so beautiful journey her life would become.  As I type that last sentence the tears are falling from my eyes and running down my face because He also knew how her life would end although I did not.  He knew I would only have 7 Christmas seasons to hold my baby and see the joy and the sparkle in her eyes as the lights twinkled inside our home.  He already knew that Christmas 2012 would be her last one with us here, and oh how I wish I had known that too(this is something I have and still do really struggle with). He already knew how she would steal our hearts and change those hearts for the rest of our lives. 

Throughout Ashley Kate's life Christmas was one of the "if we can just get her to dates" that I kept track of in my mind.  I was always planning and looking ahead for a goal to get her to survive live long enough for.  It helped me get through the rough parts of her journey.  Having her home for Christmas was the dream.  To have all three kids together for Christmas was always the goal. It wasn't about the presents under the never has was about the feeling of having us all together.  It was about how Christmas felt knowing that all three of our children were tucked safe into their beds in our home those Christmas Eve nights.  Nothing brought me more peace during the season than that because I knew if she were home and not in a hospital bed that she was "alright" ...she was "safe".  Our world was alright because Ash was home were she belonged with Blake and Allison.  

Since Ashley Kate's death Christmas has been so very hard for all of us.  We have made an effort to make Christmas different for our kids, but yet still the same.  I'm not sure that I can explain it effectively enough. Our home looks the same, it is filled with twinkling lights, holiday photographs, the sights and sounds that have always welcomed us into the door, but it feels different too since she's no longer here.  The silence of her laughter is a sound that echoes now during the holidays.  Her joy is missing so blatantly on Christmas day so we now leave.  We plan holidays for our "adult" children away from our home on Christmas day.  Its become tradition these last 5 Christmas' since she left for us to be away.  She is never far from our thoughts and definitely in our hearts each Christmas, but we seem to shed less tears if we aren't sitting around our tree without her here.  We just arrived home last night from a beautiful Christmas holiday in Mexico with Blake and Allison. Our children are young adults now, and we have so enjoyed watching them grow up. 

 Christmas this year still hurt my heart more than I can truly share, but we laughed together and made new memories.  Christmas is so different without her here, but it is still a treasured holiday of warmth and togetherness for all of us.  We will never have another family photo that includes us all, and that hurts more than words can describe, but we are still a family.  We are still together, and I can truly say that I am blessed.  Broken forever but always blessed.  

So from our family to yours I pray  your holiday season was blessed.  Thank you for still being here with us.  Thank you for loving us as we navigate this world without her here.  Thank you for your prayers and shared well wishes.  Merry Christmas


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