Monday, March 15, 2010

We are fast approaching one of those big days......4/21/2010.

It will be five years since that terrible day when our lives were turned inside out and we felt sadness that we did not know existed.

Our memories of Ashlyn are still bright and she is in our thoughts every day. She provides a great role model for her sister and brother even though she is not there to teach them valuable lessons herself, we teach them these lessons for her. We feel like our role as Ashlyn's parents are to act as an extension of her, investing time in things that she would find important and keeping her name on people's lips so she will never be lost to history.

Time is a healer, but it is also an enemy. Things change with time and the world today is much different than the world Ashlyn occupied, then left, five years ago. The places that she loved, such as the Carden Jackson School and the Balinese Room, are now gone. We will not be able to take her siblings to these places so they can be closer to the memory that we are trying to share with them. They will not run across the CJS gym, throwing confetti eggs at their father, or run down the Balinese Room pier on their way to see their friends as Ashlyn did. Those places are lost, as is the palm tree taken from us by the freeze that was once our final Christmas tree with Ashlyn. Every time you lose a place, or thing, it feels like you lose a brushstroke from a painting. You feel very motivated to try and replicate things, as if by doing so you are closer to that memory. As five years turns to ten, and changes continue that will become more and more challenging to do.

The past five years started off in darkness, but we now reside in a bright, happy light. Jacqueline and August have provided us with new opportunities to explore life and look forward to the future. Our life together as a family is incredible and we are now living a charmed existence. We look forward to the next five years and the many joys it will bring as Crissy and I grow a little older and grayer, watching our children learn the wonders of the world around them.

Like they say, Spring is the season of rebirth.


Blogger Susan said...

Dear Joel and Crissy,

I met you and Ashlyn but once through a mutual friend. Although we are scarcely acquaintances, every time I read your blog, I cry. I cry for Ashlyn. I cry for the two of you. I cry for every parent who has ever had to bury their child. I cry and pray and thank Christ-consciousness and Shiva for your strength. It seems you two have gone beyond just facing Ashlyn's death; you have embraced it along with her life, maneuvering your grief with grace, acceptance and open hearts --qualities that I possessed during my dad’s death. But our child’s passing is on a whole other level than our parent's death when we are adults. So, as usual, I make your circumstance all about me and my crying morphs into great, gulping sobs. Would I be able to practice what I preach if one of my precious babies died? Deep down I am terrified that if I am ever forced to walk the walk, I wouldn't even be able to talk the talk. Always, I am jolted out of this panic attack and catapulted into another, more terrifying worse-case scenario than losing my children. And that is my children losing me while they are still young. I do not know how you feel, but life has taught me that everyone—even the strong (maybe especially the strong) need words of encouragement and a different perspective from time to time. Here is mine.

My mother died when I was three days old. I grew up knowing this and in my youth believed that her death couldn’t have affected me much because I never knew her. I always rationalized that Mother’s death was more devastating to my brothers who remembered her. I grew up feeling sorry for them and her heartbroken widower—my father. How wrong I was. Of course her death affected me profoundly! How could it not? Talk about abandonment and intimacy issues to the nth degree…Why am I telling you this? Because as horrible as it was to lose Ashlyn so suddenly, please know that she knew she was cherished. She went to heaven completely surrounded by your love. You gave her the most wonderful gift a parent can give a child—a peaceful passing.

I certainly am not comparing our losses or claiming that one is heavier than the other. Nor am I trying to convince you that circumstances could have been worse. Things are what they are. Life is what it is and so is death. Perhaps “my” perspective has already occurred to you or maybe you experienced it too. All I know is my purpose in this lifetime is to be fully present for my own children and, God willing, live long enough to rear them into adulthood. Anything else is gravy. In the meantime, I get inspiration from your words and wonderful family pictures. My anxiety always passes, and heartfelt gratitude (courtesy of you) takes its place. Thank you for being.



11:32 AM  
Anonymous Pop said...

Strange how this all works for me. I never go near this blog all year long, but when the weather warms, the pollen falls, the trees leaf up, and the flowers bloom, I'm drawn to it like a magnet.

I think of Ash often...The little oak out back which she helped us plant when it was only a foot tall is now up around 9'-10'....It's a constant reminder of cherished moments with that beautiful young woman.

I still have a special moment in the Mass where I pray for the peaceful repose of her soul. I'll continue doing it for the rest of my time on the planet.

And I thank God for Jacqueline and August....two wondrous examples of God's love for all of us.

9:16 AM  

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