My Ashley

I wrote this a couple of weeks ago but had to wait until we were all emotionally stable enough to post it. πŸ˜‰

I was thirteen when my sister told us she was pregnant. I loved my big sister so much, and I watched her struggle through a pregnancy that was both physically difficult and emotionally impossible. My already strong sister transformed into from a scared teenage girl into an even stronger woman, right before my eyes.

I remember feeling that baby kick and being in awe of the miracle growing inside of her. Morning sickness was an understatement; she had hyperemesis so severely that she was frequently hospitalized for dehydration. And then it was time. Without a drop of pain reliever, I watched her deliver my niece. She was this beautiful child, and I knew at that moment, life as we knew it was forever changed.

20130909-172816.jpgAshley was a beautiful, easy child. She was friendly and easy going, and I watched her that first summer while my sister worked. We played dress up while I took pictures and I loved snuggling her.

I had never before experienced a love quite like I did with Ashley. She made our family of four complete, and she changed each of us in ways we could have never anticipated.

In a sense, my sister and Ashley raised each other. Ashley brought out the best in my sister, and my Sissy seamlessly transformed from scared teen to doting mother. There were other struggles, but if she ever struggled with the role of Ashley’s mom, it went unnoticed. Ever strong and determined, she started as a teller of a bank and worked her way up. When Ashley was 5, she had a bit of travel, and I happily took this charming little girl for overnights during some of those times. I took her to “grown-up” dinners and we watched movies and giggled.

I blinked and she was in school. Ever the studious student, I don’t think she’s ever had anything less than honor roll (and perfect attendance for several years). It was obvious that she inherited my sister’s intelligence and focus on the importance of education.

Soon she was cheering, and it was obvious that, like my sister, she gave her all to everything she set her mind to. An anomaly, she never did turn into the typical moody teenage girl that you can’t wait to move out.

Then someone blinked, and she was in high school. And with another blink, I found myself desperate to hide my tears at the sight of her in her graduation garb, with the ropes dangling, showing her hard work had paid off. She graduated high school with honors, a 4.0 GPA, and acceptance to her top pick school, James Madison University, enrolling in their biology program to eventually move on to orthodontics.

And just like that, this chapter closes. However much the closing of this part hurts, it’s the way of life. That certainly doesn’t make it easier; perhaps it would be if she would have been a difficult, rebellious teen, though that couldn’t be further from the truth. Sisters feel each others pain, and I ache for my big Sissy. I wish I knew the words to say to make it easier, but I don’t. I can’t, really. I know how difficult it was to say goodbye to her as an aunt; I can’t fathom it as a mother. I won’t pretend to be able to sympathize, just like how the words to console a grieving friend who has lost a parent, or a pregnancy, can never quite bring about the comfort you intend and wish so badly to convey.

The day she was born, I knew she was different, because my sister was different. Sissy defied all odds against her, rising from a bank teller to an Investment Consultant in record time. Incredibly successful, she modeled for Ashley so many things, and in turn, Ashley turned into a successful, beautiful person; one with big dreams and the drive to achieve them.

As she steps into this new phase of life, so does my sister. And while scary, she gets to continue to see how all that hard work, all the sacrifices she made, pay off by watching her baby, the one that made her a mother, the reason for her strength during times it seemed impossible, her best friend, blossom into the kind of woman she is – strong, determined, and successful.

The parenting work isn’t over, it’s just in a new phase. Change always seems scary, but it’s necessary for our continued growth.

Ashley, though my writing can be eloquent at times, words escape me at the moment. I have loved you since the moment I felt you kick my hand, and I will love you unconditionally until the day I die. I am incredibly proud of the woman you have become. You will do wonderful things in this world, because you already have.

And Sissy, wipe those tears and rejoice in the pride that she has become who you raised her to be; who you’ve always wanted her to be. Your parenting isn’t over for her; it never will be. It’s just a new phase, and one that I know you will transform into successfully, as you have everything else.



    • Beth Chamberlin on September 24, 2013 at 8:15 pm

    She looks exactly like you! Yes it is a sad time, but it does pass. And yes, even though your neice is growing up, you never stop being a parent!

  1. She’s going to go far in life. πŸ™‚

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