Two years ago, one of my best friends lost her very best friend…her mom. I’ve known Ashley for several years, after meeting her thanks to mutual friends, we just clicked. Maybe it was because we’re both Pisces, or because we both have dark hair, or that we both love being near water. Her fun-loving, positive spirit was contagious. She had just recovered from a horrible bout with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and was regaining strength every day. Her family and friends had helped her make it through the sickness, the pain, the nightmare. And then a few years later, she called me…that dreaded phone call…it was back. The cancer was back. My heart sank. She was losing hope. I couldn’t let that happen. So her other friends and I visited her in the hospital. Although she barely remembers us being there, staying behind the plastic wall that protected her from all the outside germs, we smiled at her through tears. We knew, we just knew, she was going to beat this thing! She had to. After all, her mom had made her hospital room the most vibrant, beautiful, calming room ever…photos, swatches of color, hand-made paper designs hanging from the ceiling. And she did it, she made it through for a second time. I’m so happy to say that she has celebrated over 5 years of being cancer free. Her mom’s story is a bit different though. She was diagnosed with breast cancer, fought a tough battle while keeping hopeful, and she passed away two years ago. Ashley had learned her positive, courageous spirit from her mom, who loved life and adventure. She lived life to the fullest, and shared it with her family, her friends, and those who would quickly become her friends after just meeting her. Her family held a celebration of life, complete with family photos on tables, flowers, her journals of travels to India while she was fighting the battle of her life. Under a tent and rainy skies, we celebrated her love for life. For that’s what she would have wanted. The family asked those who attended to write letters to her…in my letter, I promised I would be there for Ashley no matter what. And I had the honor of doing just that a few days ago. After all, she’s kind of like a sister to me, along with our friend, Audrey. A small impromptu gathering was planned to honor Ashley’s mom, in the very place where we had all gathered 2 years ago. But on this day, no rain drops fell. Only dappled, sparkling, beautiful sunlight streamed through the tall trees in the garden – her garden – the very garden that she had helped maintain, as her daughter and friends shared stories and remembered her radiant and colorful spirit. The flowers in the garden couldn’t have been more beautiful and perfect. Dear Ashley’s mom, you are loved and missed!
The owners of this beautiful property were some of Ashley’s mom’s dear friends. In addition to the beautiful gardens, they had two of the cutest and sweetest dogs…Rudy was not camera shy at all!
Despite the tough times my friend’s family has endured, they have grown in strength, love, and hope – together. Much love to you all.