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On Determination

Updated: Feb 11, 2019

My smile is back. I truly didn’t think I’d be able to say that, or even think that a few months ago, but today I’m proud and thankful to be able to say it’s back.


I can’t tell you how many times these past 9 months I’ve heard “Ash, you’re so strong.” Or “I could never get through this, I don’t know how you’re doing it.” Or some variation of the two. And while I appreciate every single word of encouragement, praise, motivation and kindness you’ve all given to me through all of this, the truth is, it’s just not true. I’m not strong. I’m not amazing. I’m not some hero magically doing this all the “right” way. The truth is I’m figuring it out as I go along and it’s a terrifying, frustrating and lonely process. And the really brutal truth is that I’m only getting through it because I’m a stubborn asshole, but a stubborn asshole with fierce determination.


When being backed into a corner and provided with the options of fight or flight, I’ve put up my dukes and I’m getting down to it. (Where are my Pat Benetar girls at!) That being said, fighting certainly isn’t the easy option. There was more than one time during all of this that I wanted to choose flight. I felt like I didn’t have any more fight in me and there’s no way that anybody in the history of the universe had ever been as sad as I was, that had been in the same situation as I was and on top of everything else I was dealing with, that feeling of loneliness and like nobody could understand what I was going through was nearly overwhelming and pregnancy hormones certainly didn’t help make any of these emotions any easier to work through. I vividly remember towards the end of my pregnancy- my liver was beginning to fail because of the stress my body was under and I was diagnosed with preeclampsia- making an already stressful pregnancy that much worse. I went into the hospital for a fetal non-stress test at 34 weeks/ 5 days and my blood pressure was 190/105 and wouldn’t come down. They said ok, you’re staying here until you have this baby. It certainly wasn’t the lowest point of the entire process which brought me to that specific hospital at that specific time, but the intake nurse started asking her questions including, “Have you had any suicidal thoughts in the past 12 months?” I looked up at her and started bawling. She looked from me to Nikki and back to me but I couldn’t answer her, I just cried. I didn’t want to say yes because I was worried that meant they wouldn’t let me bring my baby home that I’d worked so hard to get here but I couldn’t say no because I didn’t want to lie. I didn’t know what to say so I just cried and looked at Nikki (Brian’s sister who didn’t leave my side through this all) to please explain what I was going through and why I didn’t want to answer that question.


Before you all get too anxious about the word suicide, I never truly considered it an option, but I can tell you, the thought of not having to deal with any of what I was being forced to deal with had certainly passed through my head a few times and there were days/weeks when I just truly thought I’d be living in this sadness forever. On those early days when I felt like I just didn’t have any fight left in me, that notion of flight was impossible not to think about.

So you see, as people have been telling me I’m strong, I can tell you I’m not. There are days I feel guilty when I laugh, when I see photos of myself looking happy and genuinely smiling. My gut reaction is that it’s not fair – I shouldn’t have these happy moments because Brian isn’t here to do the same. At times I feel like I should still be in the deep dark depressing stage because it hasn’t even been a year yet and how could I possibly be smiling already? There are times I look at the photos I’ve put up around my house and question when am I supposed to take them down, do they make me happy or sad? The truth is it depends on the day.. I can look at one photo and have it bring back the best memories of that moment, only to see it the next day and have it bring tears to my eyes. I don’t have all the answers.. I don’t know that I even have any of the answers – but I can tell you I am damned determined to figure it out. I’m determined to turn this situation around and use everything I’ve learned from Brian to make my life, the lives of our kids and all of those around us as amazing as possible because it would be such a waste to not. I’m determined to live the life that I want to live, to remember that tomorrow isn’t guaranteed so hope for tomorrow but live for today. I’m determined to not have any bucket lists, to make memories and enjoy experiences now. I’m determined to get through the sadness and to find happiness again. I’m determined to give our kids the best damned life possible and staying true to how Brian and I wanted to raise them.


People who are backed against a wall are capable of incredible things. You might think or even say, “I could never do that” and I truly, sincerely hope you don’t ever have to, but you should know that while you might not want to, I believe you could. Believe me, if I could get through this, you could get through whatever scares you – you just have to want to bad enough. I firmly believe where there’s a will there’s a way, You don’t need to be strong to do it, you need determination and the will to fight it out - and a crew of the worlds greatest friends & family certainly helps when you’re lacking confidence and need a little push.




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Lessons of turning tragedy into triumph 

from a military widow

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