We begin with an angel

photo 4

Our Angel Ashlyn

Welcome to bees inspired, this is my first post and it seems like the only place to begin is at the point of my life when I began slipping down a negative slope. This blog is intended to explain how I am inspired, and although this moment was one of the worst in my life, in order to understand how I work through my issues, you have to understand where I began. This will be the hardest post of my blog and I hope you appreciate my honesty.

It began about two years ago, a beautiful day in March. My life was wonderful, I was engaged to an amazing man, and we were eagerly planning our wedding for the upcoming February. We had chosen our bridesmaids, my sisters, sister-in-law and close friend, our groomsmen, my brother in law and three of our close friends, and my young nephew and niece were to be our ring bearer and flower girl. Everything was happy in our lives, we were enjoying friends and family, and I was heading to Las Vegas for the International Lingerie show, something I’m fortunate to be a part of for work two times a year.

I remember that Sunday perfectly, I had flown into Las Vegas late the night before and had dinner and drinks amongst co-workers and headed to be early. My co-workers and I were up with the larks, had a morning business meeting over breakfast and then spent the next few hours setting up and preparing our booth for the beginning of the show the following day. After completion we all had spare time, and like every time before we headed to the premium outlet malls to score some great deals. Every show in March is perfect timing for some shopping, as my nieces’ birthday was only a week later and you can always find the most adorable outfits for a reasonable price. Plus, I load my carryon full of goodies for my husband. I remember finding two dresses one being hot pink, grey and white leopard print dress, perfect for our little diva Ashlyn. After a successful shopping trip we headed back to the Rio, to clean up after spending so much time in the Las Vegas heat.

I arrived back at the hotel and caught up with my co-worker Robyn, and decided to post a message on facebook to let my family know I was safe and well in Las Vegas. After spending so much time solo on the road, my mother and I have a road trip system and I will post frequently to let her know I’m safe every night. Immediately after logging onto facebook, a stream of messages sending love, prayers and support to my family rolled across my screen. I was stunned and desperately scrolled through for answers, and then it happened, I found the single most terrifying message of my life.  It was a message from a mother, my sister, begging for her friends and family to pray for the recovery of her dear daughter. I was shocked and confused, because only a few hours early everything was peaceful and normal. I dialed my parents’ home number as quickly as I could manage and was shocked when my little sister, who doesn’t live there, answered the phone. I practically screamed out load begging for answers, but much like myself, she had very few. All she could tell me was that our niece was in an accident and that she was taking care of my nephew, while my parents, my sister and her husband were at the hospital awaiting answers. I sent her love, and during our goodbyes and promises to keep each other informed, my father’s cell phone number popped up on my screen. My father never calls when I’m on the road, he’s not a talker. I tentatively answered the phone, and I can still hear the tear filled hello of my mother ringing through the phone from thousands of miles away. My heart sank. In a sobbing voice she says she needs to pass me over to my father because she is unable to get the words out. My crying father answers the phone; I have heard my father cry three times in my life, at his parents’ funeral and the funeral of my mother’s father. I knew it was bad. He could barely get out the words, “Ashlyn has been in an accident at the farm, she’s was hit by a truck and she’s on life support. It’s bad, but they are doing all they can.” The underlying message, although never spoken, was please get home as quickly as possible. The words were very few after that, that she will not hold on much longer, words of love and grief, and as I said the words I love you, I don’t think they ever rang more true. They assured me they would keep me posted and I assured them I’d be as soon as I possibly could.

I remember the next moment perfectly, the moment my phone hit my bed and I looked up at Robyn in shock and whispered…my niece Ashlyn is not going to make it. To this day I can never thank Robyn enough for her reaction, she ran up to me and just held me as hard as a person physically could. She whispered I’m sorry, and continued to hold me until I was ready to pull away on my own. She immediately ran to the phone and called my bosses to let them know I was coming to see them and ushered me out the door and onto them. I don’t remember much for the next few hours, just that I was rushing to get home in time. I remember walking into the hotel room of two grown men, our national and international sales managers, my bosses, and breaking down in front of them explaining the incident. I remember them fervently getting me on the next flight home, trying to consol me the best they knew how, but up until that point they only knew me as the level headed, hardworking sales rep, not the shocked grieving mess in front of them. I remember shooting off a message to my family that I would be home soon, packing and heading to the airport. I don’t remember the taxi ride, the wait or security line at the airport, the only thing over the next few hours I remember is the calm support of my fiancé as I called and explained that I needed to be picked up at the airport, and that I could feel his heartbreak and his love for me from a country away. I remember my phone binging every second, as family and friends from all around the world realized I was trapped in Nevada while my family suffered at home without me. They were messages of love and support, offers to pick me up from any airport anywhere in North America to get me home quicker. They realized I was trapped far away from family and was in a desperate attempt to get home, I was grieving alone. That moment it hit me, I was in a race against time, a race to make it home to say goodbye, with a five hour flight and a two hour drive standing in my way. I boarded the plane around 10pm that night, found my seat and for the first time in a long time I prayed. I prayed to make it in time, I prayed our sweet Ashlyn would pull through, I prayed for my family…. I sat praying the plane would just leave, and then the silence was broken by a ring. My father was calling, and I didn’t have to answer to know what had happened. I had lost the race. Unable to answer the phone during takeoff I just stared at the phone until the final ring rang out. I waited, and waited, and then there was a bing, it was a text message. It was my father, and I was scared to open the message, but when I did my worst fear was confirmed. It was an apology. An apology for having to tell me like this, how he wanted to speak to me on the phone, and then four words that forever changed my life. Ashlyn has passed away. My body screamed out from the inside, but my exterior stayed silent. The airplane pushed backed, I turned off my phone, and the cabin lights went out, and for the next five hours I said nothing, I just hid my tears from the other passengers, and stared out into space. Those were the longest five hours of my life. I was numb and remember nothing but the eerie silence of the flight and of myself, and it remained until I crawled into my fiancés truck at the airport in Toronto the following morning. I had flown through the night to get home, but had never been able to shut my eyes for a minute. I’d spent so long holding myself together that even when my fiancé held me and gave me nothing but love, I couldn’t react. We started the long drive home, him holding my hand as I stared out the window for an hour. I could feel his love without words passing between us, and being near him made me stronger. I remember him whispering out, it’s okay to cry, it’s okay to let it out, and for the first time I wasn’t strong. I sobbed for a long time until all the tears were gone, and he just loved me and held my hand until it was over. We pulled into my parents driveway where my family raced out to meet me and as we hugged and consoled each other I found more tears I didn’t think I had. The days to follow were a blur of arrangements, visitations and the funeral, and my family worked together all individual zombies moving as one through the most unimaginable experience of our lives. The only thing that stands out to me in that time is my sisters’ strength. I wouldn’t have survived that, but in her insurmountable grief she stayed strong, the rock keeping her broken family together. She was now the mother of an angel, the mother of a grief ridden son and a grieving father, she was their rock and in her I found strength. They arranged a time for me to go to the funeral home before the visitations so I could say goodbye for the last time, so I could kiss her one last time, so I could look on my niece in her birthday dress I had bought for her in Las Vegas. I thought this would bring me some closure that my guilt for not being around to say goodbye before her last breaths would not destroy me, but it did not. For that day and many following my grief over the loss of her consumed me and the guilt of not being there with my family during her last moment, the only one in the family missing the chance to say goodbye, grew stronger.

This continued for weeks, I grieved for my sister and her husband, their son, I grieved for my parents who were grieving for their daughter as well as their grandchild. I grieved for my little sister who had also lost her only niece. Our family, friends and community overwhelmed us with love and support and they made the hardest moments in our lives survivable, and we were all touched. Despite all the love, my grief and especially my guilt grew. The weeks turned to months, the months turned into a year, and with each passing day the guilt grew. Each day my sparkle and sweetness drained a little more, until I was nothing but a shell of a person. Even planning my wedding became torturous at times, anything to do with flower girls tore me to pieces and I avoided it to the bitter end. I remember before that day hoping that my 95 year old grandmother would be well enough to see me get married, never thinking that my niece would be the one to pass away only a few days before her second birthday and not be there to walk down the aisle with me. Her symbol was a dragonfly, and to have her with me on my wedding day, I had a dragon fly brooch in my bouquet.  I walked down the aisle with her the best way I could. The day was beautiful and happy, but there was and will always be a little piece of our family missing. After that day I lost more and more of myself, until I was irritable, in tears each and every day. I lashed out at my husband, lost my motivation at work, and I hid from the world. My home life was tense, and that was all to do with the strain my grief,and my depression put on my now new husband. He was nothing but supportive, he did nothing but love me and I just couldn’t cope. I saved up every bit of energy to help support my sister, my family, those who needed it, but the more of a solid support system I was for them, the more I forgot about me. My husband and I were fighting constantly, and it was my fault. I was having anxiety attacks every time I had to leave for a work trip, afraid something else terrible would happen. I left on one to two work trips every month, so the stress and anxiety was tearing me apart. I hated my job, a job I used to love, ultimately I hated the world, and I hated me. After another horrible fight, that ended with me in an anxiety attack and hyperventilating to the point my husband’s anger had turned to serious concern, I realized I couldn’t survive myself much longer. My husband, as he always did, picked me up, took care of me, consoled me, even at a time I didn’t deserve his kindness. This was my rock bottom. This was the first time that I couldn’t take care of myself, and I needed to change. I’ve never been afraid to ask for help, but I’m independent and had always prided myself on my strength. I was known for my kindness, my work ethic, my compassionate nature. I realized that day, while curled on the couch, my husband by my side worrying and trying to get me to just breathe, that I had lost everything I loved about myself. My strength, my confidence, my compassion was gone, and on that day I vowed to get it back, for my husband, and first and foremost, for me.

The next day I found a local social worker, I scheduled my first appointment and I never looked backed. I’ve been working every day since then, and each day I grow a little stronger, the days get a little easier, and I stand a little taller. I have grown leaps and bounds since that day, and although I still have hard days, they are few and far between. I hope my growth continues and I end up stronger, kinder, and more loving than I was before that horrible day. I deserve to be the best me, and our Ashlyn in heaven deserves to see that too. I look forward to sharing my journey with you, what has worked for me, and what has helped me through this dark time. I’m not a medical professional, my stories are just that, stories of my experiences and what has aided in my journey. I hope my experiences will help bring out your confidence, make you happier and that your light will shine a little brighter. I apologize for the novel, and the sad story, but it was an important one to tell and a healing experience for me. Our Ashlyn was a beautiful spirit, a sweet kind little girl, and she lives on in all of us.  She will always be cherished, loved and missed. She is our angel.

I wish you all a brighter tomorrow, and hope that you grow stronger everyday alongside me.

Yours,

Bee

11 thoughts on “We begin with an angel

  1. Deb Roefs says:

    Thank You for your honesty. It breaks my heart to know how much you suffered in silence. However you had the wisdom and strength to find the help you so desperately needed.I pray each day gets better and better for you. I look forward to reading your future posts. ((huge hugs))

  2. Marcia Coull says:

    Bravo Brittany and Keith you will be stronger you already are! The fact that you took the biggest step and went to seek help and talk with someone show exactly how stronge you really are.
    Only some people who have lost a child can really and truly understand how it completely changes your life for ever. Good and bad days come and go . Hugs to you.

  3. Shaleena Coull says:

    I am so proud of you 🙂 your journey is one that many people have traveled alone and this blog with help many people . Your strength to go get help even at your weakest hour is still very noble. Please know I look up to you and I hope some day I will be half the women you are because of how amazing and kind hearted you are 🙂 all the love in the world Shaleena 🙂

  4. Lorien Mead says:

    There is no doubt that anyone reading this could not be inspired. I’m so happy to know you, and that you’re part of my family. So incredibly proud you found strength after something so tragic. You do deserve to “be the best you” and I know will find your inner peace and spread all that love to everyone around you. Thank you for writing something so real and honest, that lets those who love you understand how you are feeling, as you have sooo many that love you!

  5. Mary-Ellen Zegers says:

    Brittany, thank you so much for your honesty and saving yourself. You are such an inspiration to anyone who is grieving, suffering from depression and in turmoil. As I read your post, all I could think of was how lucky your family is to have someone like you in it – someone who became so heartbroken when one member was so sadly taken from them. What I have learned from this is that we must never assume others are ok. We need to always be there for each other. Thank you again and I look so forward to reading more about your journey to self-wellness!

  6. Jennifer Olson says:

    Thank you for the blog. I want to share a story with you. Your Ashlyn actually helped me get through some very tough times over the last 2 years. My husband had struggled with employment for 5 years. His trade is in sales and with the crash in 2008, it was tough on him to stay employed. It was never any of his fault just the times were tough on the “sales” industry. So as you can image, it is extremely hard to go from 2 incomes to 1 with the 1 not being the bigger income along with not having a savings program. There were 3 separate times he lost his job. It was horrible to watch this strong man being ripped apart because he couldn’t provide for his family. At one point, I was working 3 jobs. Though we are in debt, I am proud to say my children were clothed and fed at all times. We never missed paying for our home. The times were tough on all of us. I struggled watching my children want something knowing there was no way possible we could do it. There were times when I just wanted to run away however I never did. My motto and eventually all 4 of us agreed that it could be worse. We had each other and our health. I often had prayed to God that we could just get out of the rut. When I had heard about Ashlyn and your families tragic loss my heart broke for you all. Your story is my worse. I used your tragedy for strength. Anytime I wanted to have a pity party, I did not attend it. I prayed to God that he held your families heart while you were healing from the loss of Ashlyn. I often think of her even though we never met. So, I thank you for sharing your story and I look very forward to the next update:) hugs to you all and God Bless!!! Jen Olson

  7. Heather Skolly says:

    Brittany, may you lean on those who offer strength and encouragement, and may you know that God loves you and has not turned his back on you. His is a God of love. Although we were told that we would suffer trials in life, I thought mine was having a son with a disability, little did I know it would be losing a son with a disability. But life goes on and we go on with it. There will be times of sorrow, but they will become fewer. Many times I had to remind myself that I refuse to dwell in sorrow, and I asked God to take the sorrow from me. I was not at home when my son died, but I cannot live in a world of “what if”….or sorrow and doubt will control my life. I love this verse, and we had it etched on our son’s headstone….
    John 16:22
    New International Version (NIV)
    22 So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.
    Please know that you will heal, and joy will return. What a tender caring person you are, and what a journey you have begun.
    Tell Keith his job is to listen when you need to share (we often filled our hot-tub with tears and talk) …and he has to make you laugh once a day, OR MORE!

  8. Sandi Mclean Mac says:

    Brit You are an incredible women. I cried reading this I can relate as you know, it is a hard journey. But you will come through it, good for you to get help with it. She will always be rememberd and you will find in life with all the joys there will always be a little sadness, but you will find your true self again. It never goes away we just learn to live with it and hopefuly be a better person because of it.

  9. Tamara Joseph says:

    Thank you for sharing. You are an amazing young lady and touch everyone’s heart. You are part of my beautiful extended family and for this I feel so blessed.

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