17) ...MORE LASTS

Who knew that your "lasts" would be just as heartbreaking as your "firsts".....


Day 171 - May 22nd at 7:21am

Who knew that your "lasts" would be just as heartbreaking as your "firsts"..... Here's to a week full of "lasts."

Day 172 - May 23rd at 7:03am

🎶 For the first time time in forever ..... well, in 5 months and 2 weeks anyways, Annabelle asked if she could sleep in her own bed last night! I would like to thank the good Lord and His trusty servants, Jamie and Jessie, for making this possible!!!! #mamasleptgood #shallwegofor2? #Happycamper #nofeetinmyfacelastnight #itsgonnabeagoodday

Day 173 - May 24th at 8:40am

I have always loved rain. There's something so peaceful about listening to it hit the metal roof on my house, or hearing it splash off a gutter that likely needs to be cleaned out. I walked outside on my porch this morning and wished I could be in West Jefferson at the mountain house, sitting on the screened in porch, watching the river float by, wrapped up in a blanket. I think back to the day I married Mike and it rained soooooo hard that people got lost and some never even found the church. The rain certainly didn't dampen my mood that day. I was in the basement at Mom and Dad's last weekend and saw the bag that has my wedding dress in it. I unzipped it and was amazed at the promises she held for me on the day I wore it. The details, the beading, the sleeves, the bodice.... still just as white last weekend as the day I wore it. It feels like that was an entirely different life for me. Adjusting to life without someone you've lived with for 14 years and 9 months 4 days is hard. Just yesterday I had to remind myself that he wasn't going to come home and fuss at me for throwing out old preaching tapes from 1997 of someone he heard preach once. I like methodical processes and grief is anything but methodical. Sure, there's some progression, but it's not like you process a piece and never think about it again. Grief is complex and messy.... it overlaps. If I knew I was only going to be Mike's wife for 14 years, 9 months and 4 days, I wouldn't have changed a thing. There was a time when my pain was so intense that I found myself questioning if I hadn't followed God in marrying him and if that's why all this happened. I know that might sound odd, but I think our brains try and help us cope by spitting out solutions as to how we can avoid hurting anymore. Now, I know that we had a very rich marriage that most people would only dream of. I know I grieve for Mike, but I think I've also grieved over the loss of our marriage. In suffering loss, you don't just lose the person, but also the things that they were to you and roles they played. When you begin to break it down, we have to either fill those roles ourselves or figure out a way around it. My van quit on Friday (the alternator went out) and I was stranded at a friends house, so instead of calling Mike and him telling me what to do, I had to figure it out on my own, which I did. When it came time to pick the van up yesterday I thought, "Well, someone will have to drive me there to pick it up since I can only drive one vehicle at a time." Little things like that impact your life and force you to change the way you do things. I suppose I'm feeling a little sad because today and tomorrow are the final 2 days of preschool. It's bitter sweet for sure..... I know God's got this and I'm doing the right thing, but that doesn't mean it doesn't hurt your heart any less. So, if you could say a little prayer for me and my mind today, I would really appreciate it.

11:43pm

Seven years ago, Annabelle had just turned a year old and Abi was in Kindergarten. Eli was in Mrs Dula and Mrs Smith's class at the School for Young Children. We always knew we wanted our kids in a Christian school, but we also knew that in order to pay for it, I would need to go back to work. We had sent Abi and Eli to SYC for 4 years and Mike and I had served on the board of directors and when they were hiring a new director, I felt the Lord tug on my heart that I should apply. My goal was to work at SYC until my kids were all at Christian Family Academy and then consider working at their school. Who knew that my journey as director of SYC would last 7 years?!? It's been an amazing experience. I have met the most outstanding people. I have loved on and hugged the most precious children. I have treasured the relationships I've made with some amazing parents. I can never thank the Lord enough for allowing me to serve as director. It has truly been a joy. The good has always outweighed the bad. If you were to ask me what one thing I will miss most, it would have to be the daily ritual of when the students walk by my office to go to the playroom or to go outside. They each wave at me, one by one as they pass by. The Pre-K's will say "Hey Mrs Ashley.... Hey Mrs Ashley... Hey Mrs Ashley" as they walk by my office door, moving on to their next big adventure. We've accomplished a lot in 7 years. I think it would be neat to know how many little hugs I've been given in that time. I'm sure it's hundreds if not thousands. It's hard moving on. I know it's the right thing. I know it's the right time. I know the preschool is in great hands, but I will miss it. I will miss it with everything that's in me. I will miss joking that I need to put a "take a number" sign outside my office. I will miss the hidden Sundrops behind my curtain and the fun treats my preschool parents send my way. I will miss the funny way the students say my name which comes out as "Aschwee" or "Ashadee" or "Ashee." I will miss my teachers and our inside jokes. I will miss the church staff and the weekend fundraisers that were so much work but also so much fun. Life is way too short to have a job you hate. Thankfully, I have been able to serve in a role that has brought me great joy. So to all my preschool moms and dads, please know that you have made a difference in my life. Through losing Mike, you allowed me to cry on your shoulders, literally. You comforted me. You lifted me up. You convinced me that I could make it and for that I will be eternally thankful. I love each and everyone of you and I thank you for trusting me with your babies. Tomorrow night I will do one more graduation. I'll sing and play one last time. And I'll enjoy every last second. SYC has been more than just a job to me.... it's been a calling. And I am so thankful that God chose me for the job. I love you all more than this post can possibly convey....... "Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way." Love always and forever, ❤️ Mrs Ashley

Day 174 - May 25th at 8:29pm

Today I'm thankful for waterproof mascara, ibuprofen, tissues, good friends and hugs. 😭



Day 178 - May 29th at 11:34pm

Tonight some "man" friends were helping me in the basement so I could begin pricing things for the yard sale next weekend. Contrary to popular belief, I don't know the different between a router vs a skill saw vs a sawsall (and I have no clue if I even spelled sawsall correctly lol), but thankfully the Lord has given me good friends who do and can help me price things that might be of value to someone. We were going through items box by box and bag by bag. Jake comes to a gray bag with a black Zipper and says "This looks like it might have something nice in it." We unzip it and I see Mike's handwriting on spent toilet paper rolls and I immediately remembered the time in which he made these for me. I was going on a bus trip to New York, without him and the kids, and he wanted to make sure I had a way to charge my phone so we could stay in touch. So, while I was working at the preschool that day, he found all the chargers that I would need for the trip and he wrapped the cords inside these toilet paper tubes so that they wouldn't get tangled up and wrote, "I Love You! Patent Pending" on each tube. When I saw those for the first time, I just rolled because I thought it was so cute and funny. But when I saw it this time, it made me so sad. I wish I knew how long it would take until things like this won't affect me anymore. Some people might even say, "It's just toilet paper rolls that he wrote on! Why does that even matter?" And yet, it matters. I am so thankful that I'm not as deep in the grief pit as I was months ago, but there are still things that pop up and make me feel so sad. We had such a wonderful day picnicking on the Parkway, but there was still the reminder that the last time we were there was when we went as a church family on a Sunday afternoon. I was glad that Daddy unknowingly picked a different place for us to eat rather than where we were last time. Will the day ever come when you don't think about "the last time" ? And when that day comes will it also make me sad because I know that with the dulling pain comes the possibility that Mike won't be remembered as fresh as he is right now? We were sharing stories about his "side of the road finds" and which tools were his favorites tonight. I thought about what he might have used this tool for last.... was it when he was making something for me or working on a project for church? I'm not sure. But to be reminded that he loved me, in his own handwriting, on toilet paper rolls, was so bitter sweet. I'm happy for the years that we had together and I'm happy that for one last time I could be reminded that he loved me, but yet sad for the time that we will miss. Eli is almost as tall as me and I feel like it's happened overnight. Abi has made all A's this entire school year and gets to skip her end of the year exams. Annabelle ate 12 ribs at Paula Deans the other week! He's just missing out on so much. I'm still waiting for the day when I wouldn't choose to bring him back. I think my view would be different if I knew bringing him back would cause him pain and suffering, but he was here one minute and gone the next. I miss him. But tonight I was reminded that he loved me, so for that I will be grateful. Good night.

Day 180 - May 31st at 7:09am

Last night, the Lord allowed me to meet the medics who helped Mike on the scene of the accident. I am amazed at how the Lord has allowed all of my questions to be answered.... even questions that I didn't really know that I had. I know some people wouldn't want to know the details surrounding the accident, and Mike's condition when they arrived on the scene, and if that's you, stop reading now. But I did want to know and last night I was able to learn about everything they did to try and save him. I'm thankful that God did not call me to be a medic, because in my opinion that is a special calling and it takes special people to work in that field, but I'm so glad that the medics who worked on Mike were willing to go the extra mile to try and save him. And aside from telling me the specifics of how the body works when it has suffered severe blunt force trauma, and aside from now knowing that they did cpr even when he didn't have a pulse when they arrived on the scene, there were 2 things that gave my comfort. The medic told me that even if there had been an operating room and a surgeon on the scene of the accident that could have began working on Mike immediately, it was still highly unlikely that he would have survived. This just solidifies in my mind that without a doubt, it was his time to go. The second thing that I learned was really a collection of thoughts. When the medics arrived on the scene, Mike did not have a pulse. Typically, protocol would say that since he was above the age of 18 and didn't have a pulse upon arrival, that the medics would not perform cpr, however a sheriff deputy told them, "I just saw him take a breath as you got here," and so they began cpr. Because of this, they did get a pulse back and were able to transport him to the hospital, where of course, he eventually coded and went to be with the Lord. But I had never thought about what a peace it was to have him at the hospital with us, versus laid up on the side of highway 70 covered in a sheet. We've all driven by those wrecks where a sheet is draped and we always know that someone died. If those medics had not made the choice to perform cpr, then that night would have been even more traumatic for our family. As I look back, I can see why the Lord wanted Mike with him. He was genuinely one of a kind. I've never really known anyone who loved the Lord so intensely and whole-heartedly as him. But at the same time, the Lord also loved me enough to help me through the most traumatic and devastating event I've ever encountered by giving me peace. There is peace in knowing that we had very competent medics on the scene. Peace in knowing that they were listening to the scanner that evening and left for the accident before dispatch ever gave them the call. Peace in knowing that there were deputies who were on the scene first and began working with Mike until the medics got there. Peace in knowing that the van door came off without having to be cut off, which was amazing in itself. And despite all their best efforts, there was peace in knowing that when I saw him after the crash, I knew he was ok. How much more terrible would it have been if Mike didn't know the Lord. I have to remind myself that, "His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways," because on this night, I was convinced that God got it all wrong. And although I still don't know the "why" and likely never will this side of heaven, the Lord loved me enough to send 2 men my way to further put to rest any fears that there was more that could have been done. The Bible tells us that our days are numbered and if we had the chance, we would all want to make things right with the Lord before our number is up. But we don't have that option. If you don't know the Lord as your personal Lord and Savior and you are reading this, don't wait. We don't know when we will take our last breath, but we can have peace in knowing that when that time comes, we will live forever with Jesus, but only if we admit that we are sinners, believe that Jesus was God's son who died to pay for our sins and then confess our faith in Jesus to others. There are a lot of unknowns in my life right now, but this one thing I know, I love the Lord and He loves me, and because He lives in my heart, if my number is called today, I will live with Him forever. I pray you have that same assurance.....

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