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Lessons Learned from Sweet Ashley

"[W]hereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” James 4:14 NKJV

I heard and read this scripture many times before, and to be honest, I don’t think I fully comprehended the breadth of it until recently. Ashley and I met in junior high at Hazelwood West. We instantly connected and for a while she and I were inseparable. We constantly passed notes in the hallway (I still have ALL her notes), talked for hours on the phone at night, shared secrets, had sleepovers, and she even went to church with me.

At some point in high school, we got into a fight over something obviously so small that I can’t even remember it. But, before she left to go to college at Mizzou, we were fine. We lost touch for a long time after college, but reconnected recently on Facebook. I was looking forward to hearing all about her fabulous life, sharing stories, and conjuring up those old teenage memories…but that day never came and unfortunately it never will.

Ashley made an impact on so many people with her smile, her fun personality, and her intellect. Beyond those things, she, without even knowing it, has also taught me several invaluable lessons that I think are important to share:

1. Forgive

Often times we get into spats with people over things that are so meniscal. We stop talking to our one time close friends and months down the line can’t even remember why. It’s not worth it. I’m not saying that you have to be a doormat and let people walk all over you. Some relationships require you loving that person from a distance. However, some relationships can be saved, and all they simply require is forgiveness.

2. Learn to Say I’m Sorry

There’s this thing called pride in a lot of us that refuses to let the words, “I’m sorry” utter from our lips. It’s almost as if we believe that we will lose a part of ourselves simply for admitting we are wrong. Get over it.The true testament of a mature person is learning from his or her mistakes and admitting wrongs. No one is perfect. Tell pride to have several seats.

3. Cherish Life

I keep reading comments that Ashley was “so young and so beautiful.” Yes, she was. 30 year olds aren’t supposed to die. There is so much more life ahead. Ashley’s passing is a reminder that you never know when it will be your time to go, which is why you should accomplish as much as you can. See the world. Live life to the fullest. Don’t be afraid to take risks. Chase after your dreams. Build relationships. Cherish your family and friends. Love people. Stop complaining. Don’t be afraid of failing. After all, to fail simply means it was your first attempt at learning.

4. Tell People How You Feel About Them

Don’t wait until a person passes away to share how much you love or admire them. Growing up I often heard the phrase, “give me my flowers while I’m living.” I have found that cliché to be true. After someone is gone, we have a tendency to speak fondly of that person, but what about when they were alive. Did you tell them you love them? Did you tell them you appreciate them? Did you encourage them along the way? Cherish your loved ones while they are around, and don’t be afraid to let them know that you think they are awesome while they are still here.

5. Establish a Relationship with God

The reality is all of us will have to leave this life someday, and we need to be ready to meet God. If you don’t know Him, I encourage you to make it your goal this year to get to know Him. Talk to Him. You don’t have to know “how to pray” like someone else. All you have to do is open your mouth and talk. He loves you. He yearns for you. There is nothing you have done that will change that.

Ashley Gammon, you are loved by so many and will be missed. Thank you for living an exemplar life.

Cheers to a Rescued Heart,

​Chavon Ciara ♥

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