When my daughter was about 12 years old, she came out to stay with me on the East Coast. She brought a book she had made. It was “How much my Dad has given me.” She gave me credit for inspiring her, for showing her how to make a life, for loving her and for always caring. I was in tears reading it. Thank you, Ashlyn.
At 23, she spent a year dying of leukemia. She was 6 days short of a year after diagnosis when she passed away. She lost the ability to concentrate long enough to read. Writing was extremely painful. When not painful, pain meds made it very hard to find any focus. She took photographs, on walks around the hospital grounds. Pieces of the world, captured by an artistic soul, small moments of sharing, with her, her view of the universe.
When Ashlyn was 19, I gave her a simple silver bracelet. On the outside it said, “When I let go of what I am…”, and on the inside, “I become what I might be.” Shortly after she passed away, I found out it was a treasured possession, that she had worn it all the time. It was bent a bit and well worn. It had meant a lot to her. Way beyond what I was aware of. Like when she was 12 and gave me the book, I was overwhelmed. Overjoyed that it meant so much, deeply saddened by losing her. The last photo I have of my daughter before she went back into the hospital the final time is a silhouette against the night sky and the ocean, as she took a picture with her iphone.
She managed to hit me hard emotionally by her actions, especially hard once she was gone. I didn’t know she loved and wore the bracelet until after her death, I had not noticed it on her wrist. The last year of her life I spent more time with her than most of the five years before that, but she was wearing no jewelry. She manages to impact me emotionally with the fact of her wearing it, similar to that book she gave me at age 12, which floored me. I just got blind-sided by the deep well of emotion – gratefulness that I was able to be there for her and be part of her life and a huge despair and grief that I could not communicate more and be present more for her than I was… The bracelet was perhaps the ultimate. I had no idea it meant anything to her.