This post is going to be very long and truly is here for me to come back to whenever I need to remember. For those of you who don't already know, I lost someone very close to me. On Sunday, April 19th, I returned from a quick trip to SC to attend a baby shower, I was excited to go to yet another baby shower that afternoon for another friend. As we ate lunch, I received the news that my friend Ashley had passed away that morning. Of course, I immediately thought it must be a misunderstanding, but it was very quickly confirmed to be true. That moment in time was the worst moment of my life to that point...I couldn't breathe, it felt as though a thousand pounds were crushing down on me. How could this be!! How could she really be gone, leaving a husband and 2 year old little boy behind!!
The next 2 days were a blur as I had to work and knew I would need to use my time off for the end of the week for funeral and such. Somehow (by the grace of God) I made it through those days, but not without much emotion. Of course sadness for what was lost, but what I didn't expect was the anger I felt as the world went on being happy and joyful and I wanted everyone to just stop and cry for what this world had lost. Didn't they know that one of the most selfless, loving, and generous individuals was no longer here with us!? Then came the visitation and the funeral. I cried a lot the day of the visitation, I thought I knew what that evening would hold, but I didn't. Pulling up to the church where it was to be held and seeing all of the cars, then the line of people forming out the door. It's real! We stood in line a long time before making it in the door of the building, deep down hoping it was a big mistake or a really cruel joke(I wouldn't be mad!) Entering the room so beautifully decorated with pictures of her beautiful smile gracing every table, it was like having your heart ripped out all over again...IT'S REAL! I will never know how her family held up, being strong for everyone else. Only God, the One True God can do that! Seeing her body in the casket was hard, but it was more obvious to me than at any other moment that she was not there! She was definitely in the presence of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ! I am convinced that there is no way that anyone can go through something like this without God, without hope! Friday, funeral day, never have I been to a funeral that was so nicely done, but the pain was still there. While we know it was simply her body, there was something very painful about the closing of the casket, unleashing yet another round of tears and emotions. I truly believe that I have never experienced grief of this magnitude, which is why I have yet to understand how her family is surviving it all. Grief that brings physical pain and an empty gaping hole in your heart.
In this week to follow, I have experienced many emotions, but I think empty sums up the most of it. Ashley was the friend that would call every morning just to see what you were doing that day. We chatted every morning as we cleaned up breakfast(or the night before's supper). We talked about everything and nothing! She was the friend that I could call just to say what an awesome recipe I had tried or she would call me to tell me about how many scrapbook pages she had gotten done or how clean the house had stayed that day. Nothing was too big or too small for us to talk about. I check for missed calls every time I come home...I wait for the phone to ring...I pick up the phone to call her and then it all floods back. About a month ago we went to a kid sale and when you go with Ashley you have to be first in line so you have to go early. It was quite chilly that morning and we stood there laughing and shivering and just joking about silly nonsense...I think of that every time I walk by the fridge because I have the note about the one at that same church in August...she was so excited because they moved it to a bigger building. Ashley had the ability to empathize without experiencing for herself. She was the most generous, selfless, genuinely serving individual that I knew. I'm not saying she was perfect, she was human like the rest of us. We disagreed on things, but that was okay too, because she didn't think you had to agree with her to be right. I made a decision this year not to have regrets, but now I certainly have a regret that cannot be undone. I do however plan to make sure it doesn't happen again. Tell your friends what they mean to you while you can, don't take them for granted. I certainly took our friendship for granted and that makes me sad. I know that I will never fill the void that has been left by Ashley Elizabeth Wilson Hofele. If you have made it this far, I apologize for the discombobulated thought process, but I hope that you will watch this video that I made for her memory. I chose the song because it truly is how she lived her life!!