My heart is breaking. A vibrant young woman left this earth suddenly, tragically. There is no shortage of tears. There is no perspective yet. Too raw, too soon. But years of memories, they bring smiles. And tons of talks, they bring closure. So if you don’t mind, it’ll do me good to share them.
“Now, Mrs. Ava, you know how I am. If someone tells me a stove is hot, I won’t listen. For some reason, I have to touch it.” That’s my Ashlee. Honest, grounded, perceptive. Sure, there may have been an occasional blister from getting too close to the fire. But no serious burns, thank goodness, because she learned quickly. Quickly and passionately and transparently.
“Well, Mrs. Ava, I’ve learned something. When ladies get older, they don’t always get smarter.” How this made me laugh! Ashlee wanted to join me for a women’s Bible study, even though she was just nineteen. She was hungry to see mature, spiritual giants in action. But what she observed, in her words, were “the same insecurities I have now. How old are y’all, like, forty? I thought the more mature we are in Christ, the less we worry about ourselves.” Needless to say, Ashlee taught me that night.
“Oh, Mrs. Ava! I’ll keep this forever. For-EV-ver!” After I finished my second Bible study, Ashlee couldn’t wait till the release date. “Nine months? It takes nine months to get a book out? You might as well have a baby!” So when she popped into town, I gave her a hard copy of the rough draft, tied with a bow. Ashlee beamed, acted like I’d given her a Tiffany Blue box (which she would also have loved, by the way). And that hug. Boy, she could hold on tight.
“Hey, Mrs. Ava, we need to catch up.” That’s the last text I got from Ashlee. She was in town briefly, but our schedules didn’t connect. So now, in this fresh grief, I’m wishing we had. But I’m grateful that my mourning is not hers. She’s feeling fine. Actually, she’s perfect. (If you were blessed enough to know Ashlee, can you imagine that face when she first saw Jesus? How she’s talking up a storm? How she’s eating up the pure, continuous worship? This makes me break into a grin.)
I love you, sweet Ashlee. I’ll keep you close to my heart. I’ll keep your words in my head. And we’ll continue our little chats soon, in the presence of our Lord.
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