Wednesday, April 8

Happy Birthday Ashlee!!!

Yesterday was my sister's birthday. It was a beautiful, sunny day---just like her. Ashlee would have turned 28, and I can't believe how many years have gone by. My mom mentioned that in 4 years, Ashlee will have been dead for as many years as she lived. That just sounds crazy--and extremely sad! I know Ashlee was meant to be with her Father in Heaven; that is one truth we were assured of in her sudden death. But every Spring on her b-day, I can't help but feel that she would be adding her own beautiful sunshine to this gloomy world. Ashlee was so much like the Spring-giving happiness and hope to so many after a long, dark, cold winter. Spring makes us feel alive again. It gives us purpose and motivation for warm, sunny days. It greets us with a smile when we feel we have nothing left to smile about. That is how I think of Ashlee-warming all those around her with her infectious smile; touching others with her caring and loving personality.
It was so fitting that just the other day (a few days before her b-day), I ran into a guy from high school that I hadn't seen in years. After Ashlee died, we received a letter from him explaining that he was inspired to go on a mission because of Ashlee. They had seminary together, and he wasn't having a very good year: not many friends, felt alone, didn't want to be in seminary, outcast, etc. But on the first day of class, Ashlee smiled and befriended him in a way that no one ever had. She continued to be kind to him each day, and they developed a special friendship because of her christ-like love for him (and everyone else). He told us he decided to go on a mission because he wanted the chance to make others feel as good as Ashlee had made him feel. I think that is the ultimate compliment and description of Ashlee---she just made you feel good! She didn't care who you were, what you looked like, what you wore, who you hung out with, or what others would think if she were your friend. She smiled and loved people anyway. I wish she was still here to show others just how important that is.


Even though it's been 12 years since she died, Jen and I still feel that we are missing a piece of our "sisterhood". When we pose for a picture together, she should be right there with us. It shouldn't be us standing over her grave. I've missed her so much, especially since I've had my own daughters. I imagine what my girls' relationship would be with her and how much she would love them. It makes me sad that they will never know her in this life; never witness how her smile touches other's instantly. Both Jen and I can see traits of Ashlee in our own children, and we are so thankful that little pieces of her are living on. I tried to explain to Jordyn while we were at the cemetery that her middle name is from Ashlee. Even though she was more interested in the pine cones, I think she understood that it is a special name and that Ashlee lives in Heaven with Heavenly Father. A lot to comprehend for a three-year-old!

(They put their hands up to block the sun right when I took the picture-Avery was sleeping)

I'm thankful for Spring and it's new beginnings. I'm thankful for the special time it brings each year for me to reflect on Ashlee and how beautiful she was in every way. I'm thankful for the sunshine to remind me of Ashlee's example of how to treat and love others. I'm thankful to be able to share her with my girls even though they haven't met her on this earth. I'm thankful to live within 2 miles of the cemetery-I can see it from my house and can see my house while standing at Ashlee's grave. (Maybe that's the reason I felt so connected to the lot before we built.) Mostly, I'm thankful for a beautiful sister who continues to touch my life in so many ways, and who I can't wait to see again.

14 comments:

Ras Family said...

Thanks for sharing that Christine. Ashlee was a wonderful example and always a friend to me.

Dabell Family said...

Ashlee sounds like an amazing person. I never met her but I have heard many great things about her. Thanks for sharing!

Britney said...

That was a perfect tribute to Ashlee, Chris. I was just thinking about her the other day and how blessed I was to know her. I have never known anyone more Christ-like than happy, bubbly Ashlee.
Love you!

The Bunnell Fam said...

Thank you so much for sharing your feelings. This was such a tender post and touched me! I have always admired your strength Christine to persevere through the trial of losing loved ones! Thank you! What a beautiful tribute to your sister.

Christina said...

Very sweet write-up. It's hard to imagine anyone closer to christlike than Ashlee. It's wonderful to see her nieces are very aware of her and can learn about the person that she was. I feel the same as Bonnie in that you have amazed me with the way you've handled the loss of so many loved ones! I guess that's why you've had that trial and not me. You are so strong. It was nice remembering her today.

l.g. mcfifi said...

I never knew Ashlee she died like a month after I met Nathan...I am sorry you miss her so but this was sweet of you to remember her and write about her on her bday

Shannon said...

You have a gift for words and captured Ashlee's personality so well. I miss her too. Thanks for sharing your thoughts; I needed to read this. =)

jolea said...

Christine
I am so glad to get to know a little glimpse of what your sis was like through your writings. I love learning more about those I love. I am also glad to have adopted you into our sisterhood too.

Ingrid Lott said...

Hi Christine,
I came upon your blog through Judy's. I was so touched by your thoughts about Ashlee. Thanks for sharing. We think of Ashlee often. I will always remember her contagious smile and her bubbly personality. She touched so many lives and continues to do so. You talked of how she treated others and how she made you feel good. I agree completely with that but I don't think that was an Ashlee quality - it's a Dennet quality. You and Jennifer and your mom have the same qualities. I have always admired your family for the way you treat others with your smile and friendship. Thanks for being such good examples to all of us. And thanks for your friendship!
Ingrid Lott

Jennifer said...

What a beautiful post and I know Ashlee is smiling down on you and your family. I agree with you on how contagious her smile was and how sweet and comfortable she made everyone around her feel. I'm sure it's hard when you see your children with her attributes and just wish they could meet her and see her... they will one day! Isn't it wonderful that we have the gospel in our lives!

Jessica Schwendiman said...

Hey Christine
I love looking at your blog and checking in with your cute little family. Even though we live 3 houses away I never see you. I had no Idea that you'd lost a sister. I loved reading what you had to say. I have 3 sisters and want to go wrap my arms around them!!

Becca and Jared Anderson said...

Your post made me cry. You are such a wonderful person and have such a wonderful family. Your family has been through so much, and I cannot believe how strong you all are. It is so inspiring!
Ashlee was one of the sweetest people I have ever known in my life. She was always smiling and laughing. Her positive outlook and personality were contagious and you couldn't help but smile and be happy when you were around her. What a beautiful example she was on earth, and I am so glad that you are able to feel her love at times in your life now.
I can only imagine how robbed you would feel at times, not having her here to share everything in your life, but I know there is a bigger picture, and a purpose, and someday it will all be revealed, and it will all be worth it.
Thanks for sharing your post :) Like I said, it made me cry and I was touched. You are stronger than you will ever know, and I admire you and your family so much. Love you!!!!

Kristen said...

Very nice post Christine. You are a great sister. This was a very good tribute to her. She loves you very much!!!

Amber and Che said...

That was so sweet. I have so many fun memories with Ashlee. We just love her so much. She was so much fun and so happy we all miss her. Happy Birthday Ashlee!