Ashley: A mother’s dream
In the nearly 37 years that I have known my friend, Mary, the one thing that she wanted above all else was her daughter.
That dream became a reality for Mary and Shelly in 1988. Few children come into this world more loved and more wanted than Ashley.
Theirs was one of the most unique mother/daughter relationships that I have ever had the privilege to witness.
Ashley was raised around the world, thanks to her mother’s employment as a Department of Defense schoolteacher.
The two were inseparable, traveling extensively throughout Europe, Asia, and the United States.
Ashley was a little princess throughout her life. Her mother told the story of the most effective form of discipline when Ashley was little–
they only had to take away her tiara, with the admonition that when she could behave like a princess again they would return it.
And behave like a princess she did. Ashley excelled at everything she undertook.
She was a scholar and a multi-sport athlete. She was salutatorian at her high school graduation,
and went on to obtain her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees with honors at St. Bonaventure University.
More importantly, Ashley was perhaps the nicest person any of us could hope to meet.
She had no pretensions, no unkind words for others, no trace of self-centeredness.
Instead, she always expressed concern for others, always wore a smile on her face, always expressed an interest in the activities of those around her.
Ashley was beautiful on the outside, and even more beautiful on the inside.
Ashley’s life ended instantly when she was struck by a car two weeks ago.
We have just returned from her funeral in New York. We spent three days enveloped in the cocoon of love that is her family.
Despite tragedy, the calm and steadfast love of these people was a deep and rich experience. It explains a great deal about how Ashley grew up to become who she was.
My heart goes out to her parents, Mary and Shelly, her big half-brother Matt, her grandparents Tom and Dot, her aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends too numerous to mention.
Ashley is being returned to the earth in several of her favorite places.
It is fitting that these places are beautiful and fitting, too, that the weather was as tumultuous as the feelings surrounding her departure.
You packed a lot of living into 24 short years.
Rest in peace, Ashley.
Ashley Julia Sandau
March 19, 1988-March 30, 2012