July 12, 2011


"Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt." -Kurt  Vonnegut 
Last night, I got a friend request on Facebook. It was for the mother of Sky's cousin. Her name was Ashley. The friend request reminded me of last year. I found myself looking through Ashley's old photos. Of course, after that, I looked up all the local news stories about her.

I only met Ashley once- on my wedding day. When Sky and I discussed who would be a good photographer, he mentioned his cousin. Although she lived just a few blocks from our apartment at the time, we'd never gotten together before. And though she was so late I had assumed she'd forgotten, she made it at the last minute, and began snapping away. We didn't get to say much, but I could tell at first glance she was beautiful with a sweet smile. After the wedding, she and my friend signed our marriage license as witnesses. We talked about how we'd both loved going to the same local club for concerts. The three of us said we'd need to get together again soon, but it was a good intention that never panned out.

A couple months later, we hadn't gotten the photos back yet. I urged Sky to get a hold of her. Not too long after that, Ashley's house caught on fire. I've told you all before that my wedding photos don't exist- now you know why.

A lot of things didn't make it through the fire- the house, broken up into several rented rooms, looked totally ruined. Windows were blown out, and the entire front of the house was singed to black. It was a house I drove by every day on my way to work. I would slow a little as I passed it, looking at the window upstairs where I knew she had been sleeping that night.

Our wedding pictures were forever gone, but what's worse was that Ashley was very hurt. While the other people in the house had managed to make it out with the help of firefighters, she did not. She slept while the fire crept closer towards her. Most of her body was burnt, and she was sent to a nearby hospital's burn unit. That night, just over a year ago, was one of the longest I'd ever been through.

After nearly two months in the hospital, with friends and family visiting all they could, 23 year old Ashley passed away. Her mother quoted Kurt Vonnegut that day, saying, "Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt." The phrase haunts me a little- not as much, however, as the life that Ashley never lived.

Things from last summer didn't last. I am reminded of that when I look at Ashley's Facebook page, and see all the things people tell her, and how much they miss her. They inform her of all the changes in this town. They share with her the birth of a child or the plans they've made. Life keeps rushing on while she never changes.

One thing I didn't think would make it through last summer was my marriage. But Ashley didn't know this. She saw me once, and that day, I was the happiest of brides. I want to show her that our life stays happy, beyond all her beautiful photographs that I'll never see.

I think we owe her, at least, that tribute.

6 kind comments from you:

Mrs.B said...

This is beautiful.
Very touching.. brought tears to my eyes.

Skinnie Piggie said...

Wow, I almost broke down crying!

beka said...

the last few parts definitely have me tearing up.
it's so sad that she didn't make it...and moreso that there was that fire. so terrible. :(

there is hope for the rest of you, though, for tomorrow. and mostly...for today.

Alana said...

That is so sad! But beautifully written. Thank you for sharing. I'm all teary-eyed now...

Erin said...

This is a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing.

I'm so heartbroken to hear this story.

Kerry said...

I don't know how I missed this post but I just wanted to say how beautifully written it is and how sorry I am to Ashley's family...It is lovely you did this story, in memory of her, and it also reminds us all to cherish each and everyday...

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