Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Words - guest post written by Jaclyn Aberson

A package arrived this past week. It was a beautiful red metallic envelope that at any normal time would cause me to bounce with excitement. 
But let’s be honest, this isn’t any normal time. I knew what awaited me in the package, and frankly, I didn’t want to face the joy that begged to be revealed. Literally. Inside that envelope was a pure white shirt with the word “joyful” spread across the chest in sparkly red script, selected for my fifteen month old daughter, Sutton, to perfectly match one that will be worn by her Godmother, Ashley, this holiday season. I just wasn’t ready. I just wasn’t feeling joyful.

Like many of you, I have been walking around with a lump in my throat for the past month. As Ashley, Mark and Ashley’s team do everything in their power to fight for her health, I do my best to go about my day. I feel so helpless, not knowing how best to support them and express the love I have for them. In these moments, I am incredibly thankful for the gift Ashley gave us last April: her words and the inspiration to find our own.
I don’t think Ashley could have predicted the impact and reach this blog would have when she began opening herself up to the world and sharing her life, her words. Breathe Bravely has come to mean so much to so many. The words she shares have come to mean the world to me, too. 

I cling to the words Ashley shares each week on the blog, the way she lives those words out and how she wants each of us to do the same. My house and my life are surrounded by her words and reminders of how life should be lived – fully. A note from her is nearly always present on my counter, expressing love and gratitude for friendship. A box in our living room that she gave to Sutton on her first birthday, with a note inside expressing the joy that it is to watch her learn and grow. Her endless supply of witty and glittery t-shirts for Sutton with important instructions like “Read to Me” and “Live Sparkly.” The glass snowflake ornament that for the first time hangs on our Christmas tree, reminding me of the fragility of life, the beauty of the season and the priceless words she gifted me with when she gave it to me. And around my neck and attached to Micah’s keychain, our cherished “Breathe Bravely” charms from Ashley, reminding us each day how Ashley lives while battling CF, and how we should live, too – bravely.

Yesterday I opened the beautiful red metallic envelope. The sparkly letters brought tears to my eyes. Tears of fear, but also tears of joy. I could not have imagined how the words Ashley and I now freely share could have brought us even closer together than we were a year ago. I wiped a few tears from my eyes, reminding myself of Ashley’s words to me via text last week when a picture I sent did not meet her approval: “And stop it. You look like you’ve been crying. No tears.”

Well, Ash, no promises about the tears. I do, however, have a few words for you: You are so very loved. I know it shocks you how much people care about you, but the reason is clear. People, strangers even, care about you because you care about them. People care about you because you share yourself so openly and honestly in a world that is becoming increasingly shut off. People care about you because you are the strongest person they know. People care about you because you find joy in the darkest places. People care about you because you allow them to be honest with themselves. People care about you because you are you.

Thank you for sharing your words and yourself. I am so incredibly proud of you and thankful for you, for Mark and for your Sanford and U of M teams. I hope you feel the love, support and prayer that surrounds you. All of my love.

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