Birth – January 6, 1988
Ashley, I was digging around in some old files last night, looking for a photograph, and I found a “year end” letter that I wrote to mom on 1/4/88. It would be the first of 17 such “year-end” letters I would write, as the family “historian” in an effort to preserve memories that you and Greg would hopefully look back on some day – with fondness. Little did I realize at the time that I was delivering the note 2 days prior to your several weeks “premature” arrival. The note, which was a reflection on the year that was (1987), included the following: “I will also remember 1987 as a time God bestowed a miracle on us in the strength of an as yet unborn child who refused to relinquish her right to life, despite what, unbeknownst to her, were overwhelming medical odds working against her. I thank God for the gift of our second child and for sparing us the unimaginable grief of losing her and having to confront questions of what might or could have been.” As I read the letter, tears began to stream down my face, in part, because it occurred to me that I could quite easily have written those very same words a second time – 24 years later . . . Love, Dad
Commencement (“A New Beginning”) – Friday, May 11, 2011
Dear Jen, Bekah and Joanna,
Good morning. I wanted to let each of you know that, at 5:00 p.m. today, Ashley will graduate from the University of Miami with a B.A. in Psychology and a Minor in Film Studies. In doing so, she will have overcome what, at times, seemed (to all of us) like insurmountable obstacles and, in doing so, belied the prognosis of more than one doctor who gave her very little chance of ever seeing her 21st birthday, let alone reaching this important milestone in her young life. The fact that she has is a testament to the resiliency of her spirit, her perseverance, her immeasurable courage, a lot of hard work and likely more than a little Divine intervention. However, it also is because each one of you, in your own unique, difference-making way, believed in her, loved her, were compassionate toward her and, when it mattered most, refused to abandon her. I’m reasonably certain, based on what you have chosen as your life’s work, that there are times when you experience more than your share of heartache, disappointment and frustration – hours, if not days, where you question yourself and wonder whether what you’re doing is really worth it. When those moments come, I hope you will remember this: In this dad’s mind, you played an integral role in saving the life of one very special and very beautiful young lady. How do I adequately thank you for that – except to say that I (and Cyndy) are eternally grateful.