Tracy Allen bravely shared her heart with us when she openly talked about her 5-year-old daughter, Ashley, who died last March. The article "Dark Christmas: Life without Ashley" portrayed the very real unrelenting pain of facing the holidays after the death of a child. But, it wasn't finished. There was something missing.
Tracy wanted it known that her family has always walked a spiritual path in the face of life's trials. Ashley is remembered as the little hero of inspiration that she was to so many of us who were lucky enough to be touched by her wonderful spirit. The angelic gift of light that is Ashley will never go out in the hearts of those who knew her. Ashley's prevailing gentle radiance of strength, courage and love endures even through the darkest of nights.
For those of us who have lost a child, there are a million challenges to facing these holidays. When my son, Michael, died suddenly at the age of 17, I was changed forever. Like Ashley, Michael's amazing spirit still imprints on every day of my life. On behalf of Ashley and Michael, I would like to give a gift from our little angels. Healing is there on the other side of pain. It is evident in the miraculous growth of the spirit. The blessings of faith, courage, endurance, compassion and strength are the steadfast companions of life's complex journey.
Three days before my son died, he designed a poster to submit to a school contest. The assignment was to create a motivational slogan to keep kids from making destructive decisions. Michael's poster never made it to the competition. It was placed on the high school center-stage when the whole school gathered to eulogized him. I offer his words to you today as our Christmas gift. Michael's message simply said "Celebrate Life."
There are many today who find themselves facing the holidays without their loved ones. Tracy shared with me that she finds comfort in this season; reminding me that Christmas is a time when we celebrate the miracle of the birth of a child. We are embraced, through this season, with a message of hope, peace and joy that reaches out to us through all of time. Because of the miracle of that first Christmas, we are inspired to honor the miracle of today. We join with all of those we love now and have loved in the past. They are a living creation of who we are today; woven, with love, into the tapestry of our own unique personhood.
They are the gift we give of ourselves when we make the choice to "Celebrate Life."
Kathleen Kelly, Payson