May 19, 2008

Ashley Brock 2002-2008



Today is a day full of grief in our home, in our small town and in our biomed community. Ashley Brock, one of our own and one of Chandler’s classmates, passed away last night.

It is the story we read practically every month. An autistic child gets away from their family, drawn to the water that they love so much, and drowns.

Barry and Michele Brock invited over three friends to cook out on the back porch yesterday. The adults grilled while Ashley, her typical twin sister Alexis and two other children played in the grass.

And then came that moment that we have all experienced too many times.

“Where’s Ashley?”

Everyone scattered around the house calling her name, and immediately they looked over the fence at the neighbor’s back yard. Because the neighbors had filled up their pool the day before and Ashley had seen their children swimming.

And Ashley loved the water.

But when they looked, they didn’t see her and fanned out into the woods behind the house and into the street. A few more neighbors came out of their houses when they heard her name being called to help look for her.

That is when another neighbor checked the pool again... from another angle. He saw Ashley was at the bottom and dove in to pull her out.

Her mother performed CPR on her and a doctor who lived in the neighborhood was quickly called, the paramedics worked on her and the hospital staff continued to work on her for almost an hour and a half.

And they thought they were getting her back… but they didn’t.

Michele and Barry are devastated, and we are heart broken.

It is very hard for me to really believe that Ashley is gone. She was a child full of life and energy. She was always doing. Riding her bike or scooter or swinging. And not just any swing. Last week when the family was going to see their friends across the street, Ashley dug through the garage and brought her own swing over to use at their house.

She was a strong spirit. What she wanted, she wanted, and if you wanted to keep something from her, she made you work to keep it from her. Once Michele had begun teacher her ‘first_____, then _____’, Ashley turned it around on her and began to use it as a negotiating tactic.

“Ashley, time for supper.”

“Mommy, first supper, then cookie, then bike, ok”.

And if she thought you were mad at her, she would ask you for tickles. The girl was smart.

She knew all three names of every major composer. Her favorite was “Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart” and would sometimes play his music at 3 AM for everyone in the house to enjoy.



She loved books (wouldn't get on the school bus without one), and dogs, and did great animal impressions and carried her flashcards everywhere. And she loved bubbles and she loved to paint and she loved red and she loved stacking things.

And she was great at basketball. They bought her a full sized basketball hoop and she owned it.

And Ashley was loved.

Her parents changed their whole world around for her, giving up jobs and friends and family to come to a place that would be good for her. Barry was a loving, care giver dad and Michele was an autism mom like few others. Her advocacy for autistic child puts mine to shame, challenging school system bureaucrats head on when they weren’t working in interests of her child, but in the interests of their bottom line; searching out the doctors that could heal her child; and letting nothing get in her way.

And what she did for Ashley’s health… let’s just say I could only follow about two thirds of what Michele was saying when she talked about her daughter’s complicated medical picture. Again… her knowledge showed me how much more I had to learn.

And the Brock’s home security is much better than our own. Ashley was an escape artist who climbed out her second story window on the first day they moved into their house. So her windows didn’t open after that.

Which is why Ashley’s death doesn’t just grieve me, it scares me. The Brocks were so much more on top of things that Scott and I are, so if they can loose Ashley in just five minutes when she was only 50 feet away from them…. well…

Last fall I was sitting at my desk paying bills and Scott was upstairs in his office working when the police came to our door with Chandler who had been found three blocks away by a Verizon employee driving by. While we thought he was in the playroom, he left the house apparently to look for his brother who was at school. We never even knew he was gone.

Chandler knows his name and his phone number and his address, but all the police could get out of him was “Webster”. So we have upped our security, and bought a bracelet and even have a tracking system now.

But Ashley was only 50 feet away from them and they didn’t know she was in trouble.

There is not a family among us that doesn’t know in their bones that this could have been any of us. And still could.

This morning Michele all but begged me to get swimming lessons for Chandler. They had just signed Ashley up for them. Again… to my shame… I have not made this a priority, but I will correct that. She is urging us all to make it a priority for our children.

A small correction to what has been in the local coverage. It was reported that the police are investigating Ashley’s death. That does not seem to be accurate.

Last night the police were very respectful and kind to the Brocks and when they left the home they said that they had everything they needed, so even if there is still any formal inquiry going on, or paper work ‘open’, it is probably a formality.

The Brocks are getting good support from their friends and family, and from the community, and many people are asking what they can do to help. But they don’t really know yet. They are still reeling right now.

Michele did say that if any one would like to do something that she would like it if they would make a donation to the National Autism Association’s Helping Hands program that pays for biomedical treatment for struggling families, or to 4 Paws for Ability, who trains autism service dogs for our kids and never turns down a request from an autism family.

For those of you who were on the lists with Michele, she has signed off of all of them. I am sure you could imagine how painful it would be to see those emails coming in. If you want to leave messages for her and Barry here, please feel free.



UPDATE: The Ashley Brock Memorial Fund

A fund has been established to assist the Brock family during this difficult time.

Donations can be made to any Bank of America branch across the country in the name of Ashley Brock Memorial or mailed to
Marina Curtis
5 Balsam Ave
Brunswick, Maine 04011

or via pay pal:














UPDATE: There is a video tribute to Ashley on the Bracket Funeral Home web site.

UPDATE:

Ashley's Obituary with information on funeral services and memorial fund:

Brackett Funeral Home
29 Federal Street
Brunswick, Maine 04011
207 725-5511

Brunswick, ME—Ashley Elaine Brock, age 6, died Sunday, May 18, 2008 as a result of a drowning accident.

Ashley, a daughter of Barry Edward and Michele Sporkman Brock, was born in Lexington, KY on February 7, 2002. She was in Kindergarten at Jordan Acres School in Brunswick, ME.

Ashley was a free spirit in every sense of the word and had an umlimited supply of energy. She enjoyed playing outdoors, the beach, swinging, jump roping, riding her bike or scooter, and shooting basketball on her regulation hoop. She loved bubbles, books, balloons, music, umbrellas, red wagons and painting. She regularly woke her parents in the night with the sounds of reading her dictionary or playing her Mozart cd. Ashley was never without her wildlife flash cards or a favorite book and loved all animals, especially dogs. She was a precious gift from God and the world is a better place because she was in it.

Ashley is survived by her parents, Barry and Michele Brock of Brunswick; her twin sister, Alexis Brock of Brunswick; her grandparents, Glenn and Mabel Brock of Berea, KY, Donald and Elaine Sporkman of West Point, IA; two uncles, Robert Brock and his wife Patricia of Berea, KY, Mike Sporkman and his wife Brenda of West Point, IA; an aunt, Sandra Hammonds of Berea, KY; and several cousins.

Friends and family may visit from 5:30-8 PM on Friday, May 23, 2008 at the Brackett Funeral Home, 29 Federal Street, Brunswick. A Mass of the Angels will be held 10 AM Saturday at St. Charles Borromeo Church, McKeen Street, Brunswick. Memorial contributions can be made to the National Autism Association, Helping Hands Program, 1330 W. Schatz Lane, Nixa, MO 65714, 4 Paws For Ability, Inc. 253 Dayton Ave. Xenia, Ohio 45385, or the Ashley Brock Memorial Fund at the Bank of America.


UPDATE: Yesterday was Ashley's funeral and the outpouring of love for her was beautiful. I want to share three very moving tributes that were given during the service. A letter from her mother:

While we gather here today to mourn the loss of one of our special daughters, Ashley Brock, I would like us to focus on celebrating the truly unique and special individual she was. She would be asking for big hugs or tickles right now if she thought we were upset or crying.

As I struggled to find meaning in this tragedy, it occurred to me that while her time on earth was brief, I believe that she had a purpose. I have been overwhelmed by the support and generosity from the community, our family, friends, neighbors and even total strangers. I have also found comfort in the numerous individuals who have indicated that Ashley may have prevented a tragedy in their home by encouraging them to either enroll their child in swimming lessons or increase security. I believe Ashley would find solace if another family could be spared the pain that we are going through.

Ashley also taught me to be more patient, compassionate, and empathetic and to enjoy the simple pleasures in life. My dear friends, if I have learned one thing in my journey with Ashley it is this – take nothing for granted. Appreciate what you have instead of focusing on what you think you want. Look at what you have right in front of you and cherish it – every smile, every hug and yes, even every trying moment. Practice patience when you think you have none left for harsh words can never be unspoken. Celebrate today versus yearning for tomorrow. Live life with no regrets and seize every opportunity to find all that is good in the world.

Ashley was truly a gift from God. While I feel so honored to have had Ashley in my life for six wonderful, yet challenging, years, I know that I am equally blessed to have her beautiful twin sister, Alexis. Alexis, while at times I may be sad because I miss Ashley, I promise to thank God each and every day because we have you. You too are a gift from God and I am so lucky to be your mommy. Mommy & daddy love you very much.


A poem written by her neighbor:

Fly, Spirit, Fly
To a place where every day is warm and sunny, and every beach is Popham.

Fly, Spirit, Fly
To a place where bouncing balls stretch out as far as the eye can see, and there’s a dog to chase every one.

Fly, Spirit, Fly
To a place where bubbles fill the air, monkey bars replace sidewalks, and there’s a bounce house on every corner.

Fly, Spirit, Fly
To a place where bike rides last forever, and you can run and never tire.

Fly, Spirit, Fly
To a place where words and hugs and kisses come easily.

And back here, when it’s time, and the time will come, although the journey will be difficult,

When it’s time to begin replacing sorrow with peace,

Aching with comfort,

And emptiness with fond memories,

We will understand that the flight is not
away
from us,
But instead is over us and around us,
Embracing us and whispering in our ears

“Thank you for everything.

All these things that bring me joy I know because of you.

This place is just like home.”

- Dave Aust


The eulogy given by her speech therapist Cathy Burgess:

Good Morning.

I am Miss Cathy, one of Ashley’s many speech therapists. When Michelle and Barry asked me to speak today, I knew immediately, that if there was ever a moment in time when I wanted to be present, it would be here, right now, in this moment. I am not exactly sure why, except to say that in all my years as a speech therapist, if there was ever a moment in time to give a voice to one of my precious children it is now.

For more than two and a half years Ashley would grace my doorstep promptly at 4:00 on Wednesday afternoon. She was a charmer. With those magnificent dark brown eyes, engaging cheshire grin, and an incredibly inquisitive mind, she stole my heart immediately and melted it into a million little pieces.

Teaching her to talk and communicate effectively was my charge, and as a seasoned therapist I was confident that I could meet that challenge. So with my agenda and materials in hand we would set off for the therapy room where I would begin my lesson. With a secure and authoritative voice I would tell her what the plans were for the day. Well, I think that if there was ever anything that could make Ashley laugh, it would be when you told her YOUR plans. She would look at me as if to say, “girl, its time for you to eat some humble pie.”

I learned quickly that I was not there to teach her, but rather she was there to teach me. And while she could not always say it in words, her message was clear…She didn’t just ask, she demanded, that I Listen, Watch and Learn.

Her first request was always the same. “I want pink and white ball please.” Mind you, it was not the blue and yellow one, or the red and yellow one, but the pink and white one…and God help me if I couldn’t find it. She would place it in a simple maze and watch with delight as it traversed down its winding path. Doing something once however, was never enough. While I might have interpreted this simple game as repetitive and monotonous, she found it fascinating and delightful. So I watched and I learned, and found myself becoming a master at how to find a zillion ways to teach a multitude of a skills with just one simple pink and white ball.

Next, came one of her passions. And there were many. She loved music and singing. Whether it was chanting songs that she had learned at school or playing her little piano, music was part of her captivating spirit. She made it clear though, that there were no rules about singing or playing music. As a matter of fact, it was obvious to her that one should sing absolutely everything and anything any time of the day or night. And as Michelle and Barry will attest to, the more Mozart you put in your life between the hours of 3 and 5 am, the more delightful your day will be, that is if you remember to play the same song 87 times at full volume. Who needs sleep? Mom always said that sleep was over rated anyway.

Colors intrigued her and when she learned what painting was all about, she would set out to create masterpieces. And, as any great artist knows, there are a multitude of canvases from which to choose from that can display your inner most creativity. There are one’s hands, one’s shirt, one’s pant’s, ones’ belly……

Her fascination for letters, words and the alphabet opened up the world of reading to her by the time she was three. Words helped her to say and practice all the wondrous things she saw in her world. Her language blossomed. Each week, brought new and exciting ways for me to understand and reach her. Looking back I recognize how tolerant she was of my stupidity. It was really as simple as knowing your ABCs.


A is for Ashley, athletics and activity.

B is for Bubbles, Books, Baby Einstein, Bikes, and Basketball.

C is for cards, cards, and more cards.

Yes, cards. She loved them. She had cards for every category of life. She carried them everywhere and recited them faithfully. There were cards for animals, toys, foods, and clothing. We had cards for letters, numbers, shapes, verbs and adjectives. Well, I thought, at least I got the cards right. But she told me this week loud and clear that there was one category of cards I failed to give her. I didn’t think to make Ashley her “I love you” cards. So I will do it now.

The first card would say on the front,

“I love you Mom and Dad”

And on the back,
Thank you for your abundant love, commitment, patience and dedication to ensuring that my days with you were the best that any child could wish for. I am so very lucky to have two parents who demonstrated their incredible courage, strength, persistence and unconditional love every day.

“I love you Lexi”
Thank you for being the beautiful, kind and loving sister that you are. Thank you for your hugs, your guidance and for being my teacher and my friend.

“I love You Grandma and Grandpa, nanny and papaw, and all my wonderful aunts and uncles and cousins.”
Thank you for accepting me for who I am and embracing my challenges with love and support. Thank you for being there for me and for helping mom and dad through many challenging times.

“I love you special neighbors and friends”
Thank you for playing with me, accepting me into your lives, and for providing comfort, protection, support, laughter and friendship to our whole family.

“I Love you all, my wonderful teachers”
Thank you for filling my days at Merrymeeting, The Bath Y, Jordan Acres and Longfellow with fun, excitement and learning. Your dedication and commitment to me was incomparable. Thank you for cherishing me, recognizing my gifts, and believing in my potential.

Knowing Ashley, I am sure, that she would add more cards to the stack every week. I am also sure that as I continue to work with children in the years to come, they will all have I Love You cards.

Yes, Ashley had many glorious gifts, but like most children she had her challenges too. Did I mention that she also had Autism? While I refuse to define any child by the parameters of a disability, I am haunted by the fact that like Ashley, too many children in our community, state, nation and world are afflicted with a disorder that in my mind is as senseless and tragic as Ashley’s passing. Autism is a disorder that now affects 1 in every 150 children and there is no cure. For those of you here, who are in the trenches along with me in fighting this insidious disorder we must ensure that Ashley’s voice not be silenced. I implore you to allow this incredible child’s journey to speak through your heart and your voice. Be persistent. We must be vigilant in our efforts to increase autism awareness, educate our communities, and advocate for services so that we can ensure the safety and future of all these children. If we are able to use this tragedy to save just one life, then Ashley’s death will have not been in vain. We can make a difference. We do make a difference, and if there is ever moment when you doubt this for even a second, just repeat it 87 times until the doubt fades away.

I will miss you dear Ashley. While my Wednesdays will no longer be the same, I know for certain that your voice, your gifts, your lessons and your challenges will forever be a part of my life. I know I have many more lessons to learn. But yours are really simple to learn if we just remember what is truly important in our lives.

1. Celebrate the love, the joy and the magic in even the simplest of things.

2. Find your passions and embrace them with each new dawn.

3. Sing with sheer abandonment even if it is a Christmas Carol on a warm spring day and wear your fire hat if you feel like it.

4. Use your voice. Say “no” when you need to, even if it’s not what others want to hear.

5. Remember to Practice saying your “I Love You cards” everyday, even if someone else forgets to say theirs to you.

6. And never, ever forget, that as we journey through this life, no matter what the challenge, remember always


“Where there is a will…
there is a way.”





Rest in Peace, My Sweet Ashley.

40 comments:

Kelli Ann Davis said...

Oh Ginger!

I'm crying right now -- my heart is literally breaking for this baby!

I can't even *BEGIN* to imagine the pain that Michelle is going through right now!!

Oh my gosh! Mega prayers are going up right now for this family!!!!!

Please give Ashley's Mom and Dad the biggest hugs from all us.

Keep us updated.

Kelli

Thing1Thing2Mom said...

What a beautiful child! And what a beautiful tribute to her.

My heart breaks for her family. They will be in our prayers.

Pamela

Nicole said...

We are friends of Barry and Michele's from Kentucky and just heard this tragic news. Thanks for providing a link to what happened for us. She was such a beautiful little girl. My heart breaks for Barry and Michele and especially Alexis as I can not imagine how her little spirit will be affected.

I have a daughter who has Down syndrome and I know how much that community means to us. I know Michele will need the support of those who have shared Ashley's journey with them and will understand the significance of their loss.

Praying non stop, Nicole

jacki said...

Michelle and Barry are wonderful parents. They are the most loving, dedicated parents I have ever known.

Pat and I have been in awe of their unselfishness when it comes to their girls.

God please watch over then during this hard time. Our prayers and every thought are with them.

Jacki & Pat Nickodem (Lexington, KY)

JKatherine said...

I was Ashley's preschool teacher at the Bath YMCA last year. To say that she was a special child would be an understatement. She was bright, beautiful, and full of life. She brought laughter to my classroom almost daily.

My heart goes out to Barry and Michele and Alexis and everyone else who loved Ashley. This is such a tragedy and could happen to any of us. I'm so sorry it happened to these two exceptional parents.

I'll be thinking of you all.

Jamie Giles

Mommy to those Special Ks said...

What a beautiful little girl. My heart breaks for he family. Please let them know we are praying in Tennessee.

TheFiveDays said...

I have goosebumps reading this...I am so sad for Ashley and her family, and it also scares the heck out of me. Thank you for sharing Ashley's story.

grezelda said...

My heart breaks for Ashley and her family. She was such an amazing little girl who brought such joy to all who knew her.

I'll be holding her family in the light. Thank you for sharing her with us.

CharlieInWonderlandDotCom said...

Ginger,

Your beautiful and loving description of Ashley and her family will ensure that her memory lives on with all who knew her, and those of us who did not. By sharing her story with us, you also wake us all up to the fact that this tragedy could easily happen in any of our families.

To Ashley's parents, my heart goes out to you in this most tragic time. Your daughter was clearly an angel here on earth.

You are in my thoughts and prayers.

Jeanne

chefjodie said...

Ginger,
My name is Jodie (Moore) Gomez. I worked with Michelle when she was the Director of the Lifestyle Center at GE Plastics in Mt. Vernon, Indiana. My husband, Jose', and I just received word this morning from a mutual friend (Laura Betz) about Ashley's tragic accident. Words can't even describe my shock and disbelief. I can't begin to imagine what Michelle and Barry are going through, but could you please extend to them our deepest sympathies in the loss of their beautiful daughter, Ashley!

I never had the pleasure of meeting Ashley, but your beautifully written article makes me feel as though I had!

If you could let Michelle, Barry and Alexis know that their family is in our thoughts and prayers, and would greatly appreciate it!

Sincerely,
Jodie Gomez
Evansville, Indiana

Eddie Phipps said...

I knew Michele, Barry and those precious little girls while they lived in Kentucky.

Our Heavenly Father is "the God of all comfort." He is able to bind up the broken-hearted, to heal the most painful wounds, and to give hope and joy amidst the heaviest sorrows.

Michele, Barry and Alexis are all in our prayers and may God's Comfort be with them during this time of sorrow.

Eddie & Barbara Phipps

Wendy Fournier said...

Ginger,
Thank you for setting this up. I've been unable to write until now. The sadness is just overwhelming. This is a nightmare that I have dreamt many times about my own little girl with autism, and it is my biggest fear. So many of our children have been lost this way.

Michele and Barry, please know that my heart is breaking for you. And that the autism community is mourning with you the loss of your beautiful little Ashley. I pray that your family will find the strength and grace that you will need to get through the days to come.

With love and profound sympathy,
Wendy Fournier

Bec said...

Ginger,

What a beatiful and heartfelt tribute. You have such a way with words.

My heart goes out to Ashley's entire family, all their friends, and everyone who's life has been touched by this tragedy.

I have a 4½-year-old on the spectrum and have a slew of health and mobility issues myself. Last year I had to jump into a pool and pull my son out. I will never forget the horror in his eyes as he went under and the "what ifs" that went with that. Even with that, I am sure I am only touching the surface of what this family is feeling.

I hope they have tons of support from their friends, family and community . . . not just this week, or this month, but for the long road that is grief. Encourage people to continue reaching out to them. I wish them so much strength in moving forward.

Bec

Christine said...

Ginger,

Thanks for putting this information on your blog. Our prayers are with Michelle and her family.

Kim Stagliano said...

Lord, this is too tragic for words. I pray her parents someday can find peace.

We looked at a house today (to buy.) It had a pool. No way. No way.

Ashley Brock may have saved my girls.

God bless the child.

Ty said...

Dear Brock Family,

My heart goes out to you at this time. It is moments like these that words just aren't enough.
I received your message through the Adventists with Autism yahoo group, and my heart sank.

Just a month ago we were reported to Child Protective Services because of the precautions we take with our autistic son (7 y.o. and also an escape artist who loves the water and to just run). I know that it could happen to us all too quickly, and it terrifies me on a regular basis.

Please know that you did all that you could do...and that I admire you as parents. You will be in my prayers, and heart. Thank you for your courage, and strength.

Write me anytime...about anything...

Sincerely,
Terra Yarbrough
souldepth@hotmail.com

lapettis said...

My family prays for all of you. We lost Lori (PDD-NOS)for about an hour when she was 4. A friend of our neighbor's son found her on a pool cover. I thank God everyday that she was fine--only cold and wet. You will be in our thoughts.

Lily said...

I knew Ashley from when she attended the Merrymeeting Center in Bath. We are all grieving for the loss of our former student and will miss her very much. She was such a sweet girl who touched more lives than she ever could have known. My thoughts are with her family.

Lily (Portland, ME)

Tiggr454 said...

I can't imagine what they are going through. How devastated you all must be for the loss of such a precious child. My heart breaks as I sit here crying for yet another special child gone too soon. No more worries for her safety just anguish for the family left behind. She is now in the only truly safe place for her, in God's arms. God Bless you Ashley you are now an Angel.
I would like to send my deepest condolences to the family and the the extended family along with the community who also mourns when such tragic events happen. May God give you the strength to get through these most difficult times. God Bless.

Karen

roxtarchic said...

I'd like to paypal a donation & the link doesnt seem to be working for me... My heart goes out to this family, that I don't know, that I'm only connected with thru this post. I found your blog as I became interested in educating myself because i'm a new mom to a month old lil boy who i'd like to protect as best i can... your blog is extremely appreciated and necessary... thank you for sharing your knowledge & experiences

my heart & thoughts are with Ashley and her greiving family.

Colleen

Jennifer & Robert said...

The Kirkland Clan, Williamsburg Hamlet, Ontario Canada K0C 2H0

Our hearts ache, our thoughts crippled, our prayers be with your family.

God has a plan, unfortunately, Ashley, is part of the bigger picture.

Our family will keep yours in our thoughts, may the peace of christ be with you all, at this tragic time.

OUR LOVE: Kirkland's

Son's both with autism

MDMOM said...

My heart is broken for this family. It could happen to ANY of us. My prayers are with them.

I have been lobbying my husband for a pool because Alec and the other kids like to swim so much. No more! We'll put up the 3.5 ft pool again. And we will get swimming lessons for Alec again this summer

Mom of Autism said...

I am literally a broken heart right now. A friend of mine lost her son with autism almost a year ago (it will be a year ago in June) and it never changes the heartbreak that you feel.

My prayers are with the family.

Kelly said...

I am a friend of the Brock family and I am so sad for their loss. What a beautiful dedication post to a sweet little girl. I also have a blog and posted something to the family there...hopefully they will see this comment and visit www.thevontaylors.blogspot.com.
A thousand prayers for them from KY.

kyra said...

that is absolutely devastating. i am so sorry to hear about it. my heart goes out to the entire family.

Ari said...

This is a tragedy in every sense of the term. My heart goes out to the family, Ginger. Not being a parent myself, I can't begin to imagine the pain they must feel. I know we don't agree on much, but a child's death - any child's death - is truly a catastrophe beyond any politics. Ashley will be in my prayers, as will her parents.

Angela said...

Ginger,

Thank you for sharing this beautiful dedication for Ashley. She is simply precious.

I can not imagine the grief and pain her family is experiencing.

Michelle and Barry, if you are reading this I want you to know that not only will my husband and I be praying for your family, but that by you sharing the tragic death of Ashley, you may have saved another life. We are getting our kids a three foot deep wading pool as a "summer present" and I will be out there every single day teaching all four of my children how to swim.

May God Bless You With Healing and Peace,
Angela Warner
Vancouver, Washington

Betsy said...

I'm so very sorry.....

Sandy Hammonds said...

Hi Ginger,
This is Sandy, Barry's sister. I just could not read the blog while I was in Maine. I came into work today and be by myself. I am sitting here in tears, I miss Ashley so badly. I close my eyes, I see Ashley, I sit and try to work, my thoughts drift to Ashley, Everywhere I turn, I see things Ashley loved. That is not a bad thing, That is a good thing, It's just a painful thing. To know the aching hole in my heart, I cannot even begin to imagine how my brother, Michele and Lexie, (Alexis) feel and will always feel.
I give thanks for the special time I was privileged to spend with Ashley on my previous visit with my mom. I am so glad that my children Aaron and Alaina were able to come and visit with her and have some special times to remember. To know Ashley was to Love Ashley. When she looked at you out of those big beautiful brown eyes that seemed to look into your soul and know so much more that we will ever know, your heart melted. Ashley's laughter would brighten a cloudy day. You just could not get enough of being around Ashley. Bless you Ginger for your beautiful heartfelt words. Thank you Ms.Kathy for working with Ashley and for the most beautiful eulogy I have ever heard. You brought Ashley to those that did not know her. Thank you both for loving her. Thank you to Barry and Michele's wonderful supportive neighbors and community.
And most of all, (Thank you Ashley), my beautiful niece, my beautiful little angel that will be with me always and forever, and in my heart for eternity. You have given me so much and I have learnt from you. To my dear brother Barry and Michele, you know my heart, I love you both. Ashley could not have had parents that loved her any more, give of everything in them and always found time and room for more in love and patience. Alexis was the most protective and loving sister she could have ever had. I know God has to have a plan for our Ashley and us as well. God bless you all.
Support Autism Awareness
Love your Children
Sandy

Valerie Cox said...

My name is Valerie Leuellen Cox. Michele and I were college roommates. Thank you, Ginger, for creating this post to keep us updated.

I have not had the pleasure of meeting Michele's beautiful girls, but I feel as if I know them from Michele's Christmas letters over the years. Alexis' flair for drama and Ashley's love of red wagons and classical music certainly speak to special and charismatic children.

That is why it is so difficult to find the right words to offer to Michele at this time. The loss is so great that it is beyond words. What I can say is that Ashley is truly an angel with a mission to teach others by touching many, many lives; her work is far from over as all of those who knew her will continue to be touched by her.

When we were in college, Michele was always tough and upbeat, whether we were stressed about exams, boys, the future, or just life in general. She used to play "I am Woman" to help us overcome whatever was worrying us. From what I have been reading on this website, Michele is already drawing from that same inner strength and facing this tragedy with the courage that is so typical of her. Her amazing spirit speaks for itself in that she is already trying to educate others from this experience.

Michele, Barry and Alexis are in mine and my husband's thoughts and prayers. Like many others, we are struggling to find meaning and purpose in all of this but, at the very least, we hope that we can learn something from it.

Please give Michele and Barry our love.

Dadof6Autistickids said...

This is just so sad, parents that are diligent and watchful and still this can happen. Our three youngest are runners from time to time and Mary (3) is really enjoying running out into the street or busy parking lots lately. SCARES THE CRAP OUT OF US!

We've told people that trying to move our children from one location to another is like herding cats.

Our hearts and prayers are going out to this family.

quantumerik said...

I can't tell you how deeply tragedies like this affect me for hearing of them. Ashley looks like my Miranda... their faces so angelically-similar. What a beautiful girl Ashley was.

What a difference five minutes can make in our lives. Less, even.

My daughter is an escapist... the yard, our shopping trips, you name it. If you're not FIXATED on Miranda, you're going to find yourself running after her. It's gotten to the point where I've begun anticipating her thoughts just to stay one step ahead of her... a tragedy like this scares the H-E-L-L out of me... and makes the grief of what Autism has done to her future so much more poignant.

I've asked GOD to comfort the Brock family and to give them strength, now that he's taken his little angel back into his arms.

Sometimes the rarest and most precious of gems are never owned, but merely on loan for a short while.

Erik
FAIR Autism Media

barrye34 said...

Ashley,
I know that you can hear Daddy's thoughts tonight, but he had to write them down for his sanity. Daddy misses you so much. I long just to rock you in the recliner while you pretend to be asleep. Daddy wants you to know that even though life was very difficult for you and the family that he would take it all back in an instant. Even though I know you are with God in a place that is more beautiful than words can describe I am selfish because I want you here with me. I know that you havent stopped talking since you got to heaven. I can hear your voice in my heart. I miss you so much. I know that you will always be with me and I will never forget the joy that you brought to me in six short years. Please watch over mommy, Alexis, and daddy too. We need it so much right now. Our souls have a big empty place in them right now. Please fill those empty spaces with love and good memories of you. I will think of you often and warmly sweet pea.
Love always,
Daddy

quantumerik said...

Barry, that was beautiful, thank you for sharing your message to your little angel. I cannot fathom your loss, but to attempt to imagine it is painful to say the least. What happened to Ashley is a fear I have lived with my own daughter Miranda and the only thing that has changed is that she's bigger, stronger and more willful with no sense of danger or fear. God bless your family and bring you strength.

Warmest Regards,
Erik Nanstiel
FAIR Autism Media

Pete said...

My name is Pete Parry and I'm from upstate New York. I have 2 grandsons who are autistic. This week my daughter (their mom) her husband, my wife and myself all attended the "Green Our Vaccines" rally in Washington, DC. While at the rally I spotted a sign with Ashley's picture and the words "Vaccine Induced Autism Killed Our Daughter". I'm a guy, and I'm not supposed to cry, but I cried at that moment. Then, I took a picture of that sign and I have posted it on our website, devoted to autism awareness. It's called Caleb's Eyes.com at www.calebseyes.com
My thoughts and prayers are with you. I cannot begin to imagine your sorrow. I also must tell you how I admire your strength in attending the rally so soon after the death of your precious child.

Apple_Mark said...

hi
I just spotted the sign listed on age of autism and have cried again for the strength and bravery you have shown in doing this.

Samantha said...

A rare red butterfly
Steadfast but never still
Here but then gone
Lucent as a moonbeam
Earthbound for a moment
Yet in our hearts forever

---poem by Sam

I miss you, Ashley.
Please take care, Michelle and Barry and Alexis

Jamie said...

I'm sure I can't post pics here, but perhaps I can post a link (not sure if it will be clickable, but if it isn't, just copy the entire URL and paste it into your address bar.

This is a picture of Ashley's Memorial Tree (Flowering Crab Apple) planted at the Bath Area Family YMCA where she attended preschool last year. It is located near our playground where Ashley relished every moment she could spend running around, blowing bubbles and swinging on the swings. We will always think of her smiling, happy face as we walk by on our way to the playground each day.

-Jamie Giles
(Ashley's Preschool Teacher)

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v116/jkatherine/AshleysTree.jpg

Jamie said...

Oops! The link for the picture of Ashley's Tree was cut off. Here is one that should work:

http://tinyurl.com/545qrh

You will need to copy and paste the above link into your browser's address bar.

-Jamie

Andrea said...

Mt name is Andrea, and I was one of Ashley's teachers at the Merrymeeting Center for Child Development in Bath, Maine. I am just learning of her death today. What you have posted here is a beautiful tribute to the little girl that I new and loved so much. No one would make me run like Ashley could. Thank you for your kind words.