Ashley's Story

She will leave fingerprints all over your heart

11/17/2014

Sweet Ash





I'm missing you tonight.  


I wish I could have tucked you in... Hung your IV's and TPN...  Put you in your jammies...Taken down your hair...Rubbed lotion on your feet...Gotten you a drink...Covered you with warm blankets...Kissed you on your cheeks...Made rooster sounds in your ear...Read Goodnight Moon for the thousandth time... 

I wish I had another night to sit next to your bed...watch you sleep...listen to you breathe...cry and plead and beg on your behalf...  

I hope you smiled today.  I hope you got to play.  I hope you walked and ran.  I hope you used your voice.  To sing..to laugh...to tell your story.  

Sweet Ash, your mom loves you today...tomorrow...and forever.

11/05/2014

I miss you



I miss you so much.  So much so that the pain of your absence silences me even though I want to scream.  I miss all of you.  Every bit.  Every single part.  It hurts so much to live this life when you are no longer a part of it.  The rain is falling again today and I find myself standing in it.  Allowing it to wash memories of you all over me.  It mingles with my tears as they fall from my eyes.

I'm struggling.  Every day seems to get harder.  I open my eyes and thoughts of you flood my soul.  I lay down at night and memories of you keep me from falling asleep.  My dreams are filled with haunting memories of your last days, your last moments, your final breath.  I scream so loud in my sleep that no sounds escape my lips.  Its one long nightmare that I can't get out of.

I'm so different now.  I'm no longer the same.  I was my best self with you here and I can see that I am just a shell of that person without you here.  What was this all about?  I can't figure it out.  I wouldn't ask you to leave the place you are now for anything.  I could never be that selfish, but if I could have found a way to help you stay here I would have.  I'm so very sorry we lost you.  I know you trusted us.  I know you believed we would keep you safe.  I did too.  I'm so very disappointed in who we are and what we were unable to do.

I miss you Ash.  More every moment that you are gone. You've been gone from us for 14 months.  How can that be?   My hope is that some day this life will end and when it does that we will be united once again.  No more tears.  No more sadness.  No more longing. I'm trying to convince myself of this.   Until then I will keep fighting my way to the end of each day knowing that it brings me one day closer to you.

I love you sweet girl.  More than you could have ever known.

10/06/2014

Rain

She loved the rain.  Loved to see it fall, and hear it fall, and feel it fall.

There have been a lot of rainy days since our sweet Ashley Kate left for her eternal home.  A lot of rainy days that cause me to long for her so deeply that I fear the emptiness I feel as the drops fall on my skin will never end.

Every time it rains I am overwhelmed with thoughts of my beautiful girl,  and the loss of her presence in our lives hurts deeper than I could have ever imagined it would.  I would give anything to sit next to her and allow the rain to fall on us just one more time.

It hurts so much when it rains and yet it heals a little too.  I think it hurts so much because it magnifies her absence,  and yet it almost heals my heart a little with every drop because I remember her so clearly her while its falling.  Does that make any sense at all?

There aren't many things in this life that help me feel her next to me.  All those things people say about their loved ones never really leaving... I'm sure you've heard them too...  there not true.  Ash is not near by.  She is not with us.  She is not here anymore.  She has gone away.  Gone somewhere so far from us that I can't reach, or feel, or hear, or see her anymore.  She is gone, and yet my faith tells me that she lives.  Somewhere.  Just not here.  Not on this earth.  Not in my home.  Not in my arms.  Her soul lives and sometimes Dave has to remind me that she is more alive now than she has ever been.  How is that? How does that work?  I have no idea to be perfectly honest.  I just have to believe that its truth because if its not I'll go mad.  If she's not living with her creator and all that remains of her is what lies on the other side of that stone etched with her name then I'll not survive this.  I will not.

My precious Ash was moved to her final resting place.  I never imagined anything would be harder than enduring the day we first took her there, but staring at the day of her final placement before us proved to be harder still.  The tears fell and my heart felt as though it would burst.  I missed her so much that I felt I couldn't catch my breath.  I was finally allowed to place flowers next to her name. I found that I never wanted to walk away now that her body is there, and her name sits upon the stone, and her flowers have been placed.  The combination of all three made it feel so very different. Knowing that what I held in my arms was just on the other side of HER stone made it so very hard to walk away.  HER name etched there, flowers that were chosen just for HER and ribbon that had HER name embroidered on it made it feel so very different.  This is HER space.  It is HER final place.  I can't go to her room and find anything of her there.  I can't sit in her playroom and be close to what is left of her.  I can't.  I can however go to HER space and know that what is left, all that remains of my daughter is on the other side of that stone.  How odd it feels to be living in this place.  The place where her soul, her spirit, her laughter, is gone and yet her body, her bones, her hair remains sealed in a vault behind a stone that now bears her name.  What a nightmare! One that I can't wake up from.

Oh how I miss her.  The rain hurts and heals.  I feel so desperate for her when it rains and yet I long to feel it rain.  If I could have my way I'd make it rain every day.  Just so her memory would spill down on me and cover me and soak me.

I'm beginning to plan how to memorialize her life.  Ways that will help her be remembered.  Its a confusing maze of what to do, how to do it, what channels to go through.  I think I had to get to the other side of her final placement before I could voice aloud what I hope to accomplish in her memory.  It all spilled out that very day and my husband sat across from me a little stunned I think.  I hadn't shared any of it with him or anyone.  I hesitate to share the plans for fear of not being able to accomplish them.  I would be so ashamed if I had made public what I want to do and yet fell short of making it happen.  I do have goals and plans and projects that are beginning to take shape.  I think its important to share that much.

Much to my disappointment the rain has stopped.  That always seems to happen, and with its absence I begin to feel sad and long for it to start up again.


9/08/2014

Kindness. It matters



Its daily.

 Still.

 Daily that I feel the sting, the pain, the separation that only death can bring.  Its a never ending, permanent feeling, that is caused by the distance of having one of your children on the other side of eternity.  I can't explain, or describe, or help anyone to understand just how much it hurts, unless of course you too have been forced to live on that other side as we are.

I stare into the photographs that I have of Ashley Kate scattered around our home.  I look deeply into her eyes and long to touch her, feel her, or hold her again.  I can see the twinkle that came from inside of her soul and made its way through the image of her eyes in almost everyone of them.  If only I could have another day to stare at her.  To memorize every little detail of her face.  I tried so hard to capture it all in my memory.  On her good days and her bad I would find myself looking intently at her features never wanting to forget who she was, how beautifully she was created...her eyes, her lashes, her brow...I loved her so very much.

The days continue to  pile one onto the other since we last saw her.  Time is a cruel, cruel element of this all.  I woke this morning longing to know who she would have been at 9 years old.  I used to lye in the early morning hours listening to her laughter spill down the hall and try to envision our Ashley at 10, 12, 14.  She is  now forever 8 years old.  She will never be more than 8 years and 25 days old.

Oh how much that hurts.  Forever 8.

A few weeks ago the doorbell rang.  Allie answered to find a bouquet of pink flowers lying there.  Someone thought of Ashley Kate that day.  They wanted me to know.

Last week the mailbox held a hand written reminder that she was thought of again.  That her memory brought happiness and encouragement to someone that day.  They wanted me to know.

A single birthday card arrived for Ashley Kate.  It was from my cousin.  Inside it held a description of how a little girl she had gotten to know changed her life.  She remembered her special day and wanted me to know.

A couple of her nurses from years back have taken the time to write, remember, and share with us the difference she made in their lives. Not because they had to, but because they wanted us to know.  I miss you girls so very much.  Forever grateful to have had you in our lives.  Thank you for your kindness toward her.  Toward me.  

These are just a few of the acts of kindness bestowed upon us a year after the loss of our Ashley that will forever make me grateful.  One of the biggest lessons I learned in this life from my daughter and the meeting of her birth mother was that everyone deserves kindness.  Simple, little, acts of loving on one another.  Never expecting anything in return.  Just being kind because they are human and because they are human they may very well be in need of receiving kindness from another.  I hope to never forget that lesson.

I struggle to figure out what we are meant to do since the day of Ashley Kate's departure.  I knew who we were and what we were meant for while she was here.  Its the days since she left that we feel lost, and confused.  What is my purpose?  Who am I supposed to be?  Never have I wondered until this time.  I'm not an advocate.  Not a speaker.  Not a  writer.  Not a life changer.  To many peoples disappointment I am none of these things.  I'm just a mom.  A mom who is lost and broken and left confused.

I share the pain, the grief, and the ugly emotion here in this place because it is what is left.  It is where we are in this journey.  This story of our beautiful Ashley and now the story of the loss of our beautiful Ashley.   So many people mistake this journal for something it is not.  Something it was never intended to be. This is our experience.  Not written to reflect everyone's experience. Just a recording of ours.  Just the experience of one family in the state of Texas who were blessed to have loved the most beautiful little girl we've ever known.  Some people read my journal and assume I am speaking for all the grieving families in this world.  I am not.  Have no intention of doing so.  Many read and conclude that we think we are the only family to have ever lost.  I assure you that we don't, but I will remind you that I'm not writing their story.  I'm writing ours.  I'll say again that I am not a spokes person for grieving families.  I'm just Ash's mom.  Thats it.  They read my words and thoughts and grief and assume I am curled into a ball in the corner absent from the lives of our other children.  They make the leap from the cries of my heart spilled out onto these pages and have judged that I am no longer engaged or loving or participating in Blake or Allison's lives.  Never have you been more wrong.

 How easy it is for us all to pass judgement on one another.  I hate that part of human nature.  Feeling as if we have the right to advise everyone else on how they should be living or in our case grieving.   Instead of maybe just reading, listening, and praying for one another.

Our family still hurts and I imagine that we will always hurt from the loss of our sweet Ashley Kate.  Each one of us struggle on different days, shed tears in private and sometimes a few when we are together.  We remember, talk about, and mention Ashley Kate in our every day conversations.  She is just as much a part of us as she ever was. We learned to be who we are because we had her with us.  To try not to talk about her would be so unnatural.  It wouldn't be who we are.

I wrote this today to those of you who continue to bestow kindness toward us.  I wanted you to know how much your acts of kindness mean to me.  I wanted to say Thank you.  Thank you for remembering.  Thank you for loving her.  Thank you for letting us know.

8/29/2014

Ashley Kathrine Adams

Remembering the little girl who came to change our world



Ashley Kate...
the tiny gift that changed our lives, our world,
and our forever.



Memories.
Remembering the moments...the JOY...the blessings.




She could speak a thousand words without a voice.



Her eyes said it all.



That silly grin....expressive eyes...and infectious giggle.



Moments.
There are these moments in our lives that completely take our breath away...
a feeling...an emotion...
that transform every moment lived after.



JOY.
Found in the little things.



Cherish.
I've often wondered what thoughts were hidden inside her beautiful soul.
So full of wonder...So full of life...
We cherish her memory and the moments spent with her.



Determined to make the most out of the days we were given.  
Living like there would be no tomorrow.


Every drop of rain on her skin, 



Or tiny flake of snow upon her tongue


brought her JOY like I've never known.  We learned to view the world through
Ashley's eyes.  It became a more beautiful place because she was in it.


Ashley Kate briefly came into our lives and changed everyone who ever loved her.  This tiny girl with eyes that spoke volumes and a laugh that filtered into our souls.  She lived each moment without fear or worry or concern for her tomorrow.  Fully embracing her world.

We will never be the same...forever changed.

We love you and miss you sweet girl.  Forever. Until the day we meet again.

  Love, Daddy, Mommy, Blake, and Allie.  

8/26/2014


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.

 

8/19/2014

Moving Day



I've known this day was coming.  I've known it for the last 18 years, but I've REALLY known for the last 355 days.  Its because of this day, the one I'm facing this morning, that I forced myself to open my eyes for each of the last 355. I'm not sure that I would have if not for this very day.

In just a couple of hours I'll be following down the road behind his sporty little car.  Mine packed to the brim with all of his belongings. In all honesty I can't believe we've actually made it through the last 355 and have arrived to this one.  Its happening though.

I can only imagine how it will feel when he wraps his strong arms around me and hugs my neck before we head back home this afternoon.  I can only imagine how hard it will be to contain the tears that so freely are falling from my eyes this morning while he still sleeps.  I can only imagine what it will feel like to tell only one of our three children goodnight this evening.  Still as hard as all of that is going to be,  I can only imagine that it will be easier though than it would have been 355 days ago.

Hugging my son and telling him goodbye will be easier than it was for us as we hugged and kissed and told our precious Ash goodbye 355 days ago.  Sending a child off to college and sending a child into eternity are vastly different.   Perspective is what I've been working on all week.

Blake is ready.  So ready! We are proud of him, of who he is, of who we will grow to become.  So proud! Today is his first step toward living his dream.  Making it come true.  All the preparation, the struggle, the sacrifice, its taught him so much.  Chasing the dream has shaped him into the man he is today and I can't wait to watch him grow over the next few years as he gets closer and closer and closer to making it a reality in his life.

Parenting Blake has been one of the greatest JOYS in my life.  He has been my constant friend for 18 years.  I can still see him sitting next to me in the sandbox.  Still hear his voice announce to me, "I'll be wight back mommy, K, wight back.  Don't worry bout me, K?" as he ran off into the house to get his cap.  I can see his tiny legs rounding the bases for the very first time and the grin that spread across his face as he looked up and saw us sitting on the other side of the fence.  The little thumbs up sign he gave to us told me we had stepped into a world where he would thrive.  It was so him.  He was in his element.  At 4 years old!  We knew.  It was written all over his face.  I can still see him holding each of his baby sisters the day he met them.  Still see the smile in his eyes.  The pride on his face.  I can still see him loving on those two girls. Taking such good care of those two beauties.   He has always been an amazing big brother.  Simply amazing.  I can still see the joy on his face and on hers too the day this photograph was taken.  I remember the laughter, the giggles, the delight that spilled out of them both as the played.  The memory is still so real.  I can still see his shoulders shaking and his tears falling as he wept over the body of his baby sister.  I can still see him lean in to kiss her face for the last time and see his broken heart written all over his face as he turned and walked away. There are so many memories that I can still see so clearly.

Today is moving day.  My first born.  My only son.  My first best friend.  He's moving out today.  No longer will he be living under our roof.  Oh he will be coming home to visit, but it will be forever different after today.  I'm not sad.  I'm excited.  I'm proud.  I'm ready to watch him succeed.  He deserves nothing less than that from me.  I'm determined not to burden him with my breaking heart today.  Its his day.  His day to do great things.  I have NO doubt that he will.

Its moving day.