The blessing that is Ashley

Ashley and her love are everywhere. It is in the sun that warms me and the rain that brings me solitude. Her love is in the gentle deer and scampering squirrel. Her love speaks to me when I am alone in our home and startles me when the whole family is home as if to say "Don't leave me out of the conversation." 

She is in my dreams and in my prayers and meditation. She is on my mind, in my heart, and in my soul. In a unique and profound way, I am almost happy. 

She walks with me, and she talks with me. Our relationship, our love continues. I hear her say "How silly Daddy, don't you know unconditional love can never die." Ashley was and is unconditional love.

I am so grateful for the blessing that is Ashley.

Let us embrace the exquisite vulnerability of life

I have been broken open. I have embraced my vulnerability. The morning light that bleaches the dogwood tree, the bluebird that flits across my vision, the chipmunk who scampered up the tree, the rain that drops liquid pebbles in our pond.

I am human, frail, faltering, resilient, and compassionate. I listen for the divine harmony in all of life.

Every moment is a sacred opportunity. Every breath is amazing. 

Let us embrace the exquisite vulnerability of life.

I will continue to include her in our lives.

Even though our beloved angel passed from this earth in October, we still include her in our daily rituals. Before dinner in our home, we traditionally hold hands and offer a prayer of thanksgiving. Now, before we pray, I thank Ashley for being with us. I might thank her for the sun after the rain or the bluebird who rests in front of our house or I might just update her on my day. Every night, Sandra and I go to her bedroom to pray with her and ask Ash to pray for us.

I will continue to include her in our lives.

I imagine friends and families are reluctant to speak about her for fear of upsetting Sandra and me. Please speak her name; remember her unconditionally loving presence. "Speak into being" her life, her love, and the miracle that was Ashley.

You are a miracle

The fact that you are alive and reading this, is a miracle. Miracles are not only about people who walk on water or fly through the air. Miracles are people like you who wake up, even though you know, the day will be challenging, and you still choose to get out of bed.

We have survived so much; a pandemic, life-threatening surgeries, the loss of loved ones, and the fear of our own breaking.

Your life has a special purpose. You are here on purpose. You are a breathing, walking, talking miracle. Whomever you are; old, young, strong, weak, rich, poor, you are alive. You are a miracle.

Share your miraculous self with others today. Share your love.

Listen deeply...

"When you listen deeply, you help people suffer less." - Thích Nhất Hạnh

We all appreciate and need a true listener. Someone who will offer a nonjudgmental listening ear. When we open our hearts, we do not ask to be fixed. We ask for kindness, understanding, and compassion.

"Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It's a relationship between equals. Only when we know our darkness well, can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity." - Pema Chödrön

Compassion allows us to feel our connectedness, it allows us to feel our unity. We are one.

Let us listen with a soft heart and an open mind. Let us be a safe place for anyone to share their vulnerability.


Familial embrace...

There is an abundance of love and compassion throughout humanity. It is sometimes overshadowed by acts of hatred and fear. Please help others understand that we do not need to fear our vulnerability. Our vulnerability is our strength. Our ability to grieve together, to hold each other, to laugh together, and love together, brings us firmly into the circle of humanity.

Let us extend our arms, hearts, and minds in a warm, familial embrace. 

Failing and Falling...

 "Do not judge me by my success.
Judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up."
- Nelson Mandela

I have learned so much from my failures. I have learned more from my failures than my success. I have learned to be resilient, kind, caring, empathetic, and compassionate. I have learned to never take anything for granted.

Like a toddler, first learning to walk. In every new endeavor, I take a few steps and fall. I get up, reassess, try again, take a few steps, and fall. Again and again, and again. And finally, I am walking.

Failing and falling is an essential part of learning. Failing does not make you a failure. Failing and falling invites you to be fully human. Every human has failed. Every artist, musician, scientist, inventor, athlete, and writer has failed. Then they continue, they experiment, they improvise, they work on their skills, and they find success.

Vulnerability. Failing and falling teaches us to be human. Every day let us embrace our vulnerability. Let us practice falling, getting up, and being good human beings.

I have been feeling...

I have been feeling "How is it that I am here, and Ashley is not?" I see her everywhere. In my office, in the spot where her wheelchair sat, in her bedroom where we prayed together and still do. She is here and yet not. Her soft, deep, brown eyes. Her baby-smelling hair. Her little tiny fingers. Her perfect little nose.

The sun still comes up in the morning. The moon still moves through its cycles. We still get mail. Traffic is still busy. Everyone is rushing somewhere and I wonder where do I want to go? I am disoriented. I am confused. She is here, but not here. I want to scream at disinterested people passing by. "Don't you know my precious angel is gone?" "Do you know how it feels to have unconditional love taken from you?"

So I stumble in my new life, knowing she is in her new life, blessing and loving me as she always has, and always will.

I know unconditional love can never be taken from you. It just moves through you in a different form.


Letting Go

At this time in my life, I am learning to let go, again. In the past few years, I have let go of some dreams, I have faced open-heart surgery, and I have been at my precious daughter's bedside as she passed from this life. All terrible letting go experiences.

Each time I needed to let go, I needed to believe in something holding me, comforting me, loving me. I have come to believe that prescence, that unconditional love, is God. As my fear dissipates, as my grief becomes less immobilizing, I gradually open up. 

All that I love, all that I am is in God's hands.

I have come to experience that even in moments of sheer terror and unceasing grief, there is a light. Similar to the eye of a hurricane. In its center, pure calm. When I was wheeled into heart surgery, at the core of my fear was the knowing that I was in God's hands, and whatever the outcome, all would be well. When I kissed my little girl's forehead for the last time and told her I loved her and thanked her for being with us for 39 years, even then, even now, as I weep writing these words, I know she was in God's loving embrace and somehow, even though I don't know how all would be well.

Each time I let go, I learn and re-learn God's unconditional love is always with me.


Hope is such a powerful and beautiful concept. Where there is hope, there is light. Hope is the flickering candle in the darkest night. Hope is spirit shining deeply within us.

Hope is our loved ones whispering "all is good." I am happy, I am full of peace.

Hope reminds us that death is not the end of life. Death is a passageway to new life.

Hope is the essence of life itself bubbling up, effervescent, flowering in the spring snow.

I hear my daughter in the bird song of early spring. I see her in the fawn that steps to nibble the new growth on the side of the trail. I feel her in the breeze that she's so loved.

Her love and presence continues.


Road of Healing

"If suffering alone taught, all the world would be wise, since everyone suffers. To suffering must be added mourning, understanding, patience, love, openness, and the willingness to remain vulnerable." - Anne Morrow Lindbergh

This has been my journey these past few months. I pray to stay open and vulnerable to life's experiences. I hope that with time and love, I continue to move forward, not move on, but move forward. Move forward into greater strength, less fear, and greater health and wholeness. This being healthy is hard work, 24/7, diligent, disciplined, committed work.

As I travel this road of healing, I take my time, I pause, I notice, and I find gratitude.

I sense others who may need my help and I stay open to the help of others.


The Healthy Community

The healthy community is measured by its passion for all its members.

The healthy community seeks to understand all its members. Community asks us to invest our time and energy in one another. Community nurtures, supports, cares for, and each other holds responsible.

I am my sibling. I am my parent. I am my caregiver. I am every member of my community.

Listen to understand

Listen to forgive

Listen to love

"The Inseparable Family" Artist: Paul Akiiki, Uganda

Love and Fear

We are living in a challenging time. The balance of love and fear is in constant motion. Hate has come out of the darkness and shouts loudly rather than admit it is afraid.

We individually must take responsibility for our past transgressions and ask for forgiveness. As we have the courage to heal individually, our healing energy will ripple out and impact a global healing.

We are born to be good. We are on a journey to discover our unconditional and loving nature. Through this journey of vulnerability, we bring unity to the world.

Everything we say, and do affects someone deeply. We are beginning to understand that as we offer love and healing to others, we find love and healing.

Bittersweet Gratitude

 "It is the nature of grace to fill spaces that have been empty." - Goethe

In experiencing the loss of my beloved daughter Ashley, I find so many open spaces in my life. Open and empty spaces where I would call to her, "Good morning sweetheart, how do you feel this morning?" Say goodnight with a prayer of gratitude and a kiss on her forehead. Those and many other moments are now open. Now, what do I do? Well, Ashley still speaks to me. "Tell my story Daddy, help others who have special needs children. Share my lessons of resilience and unconditional love."

This is my bittersweet gratitude. Even though she is not physically here she sends blessings. This inheritance of giving to someone else, what she has given to me. I hear her voice. I am surrounded by her pictures. I am lifted up in her unconditional love. I share her unconditional, universal love and she is forever alive.

Even in the coldest winter, I know summer is coming.

"In the midst of winter, I discovered that there was within me an invincible summer."

- Albert Camus

There are moments of joy, like being embraced by a favorite piece of music, or being lifted up in prayer, or a breathtaking sunrise, or the smell of an exquisite rose. There is the knowing that somehow, through the grace of God, I will experience happiness again.

Even in the pain of our wintery emotions, summer always comes. Daylight has its extended hours, the warmth of the sun on our shoulders opens us up, and even the rain smells good.

Life is calling us. Continue, move forward, there is still so much love for you to experience.

Even in the coldest winter, I know summer is coming.