I never thought I would hear that you chose to end your own life. Someone so strong, faithful, and inspiring surely couldn’t be afflicted with such demons as worthlessness, self-destruction, and hopelessness. The grave reminds us we are all capable of suffering the same things, and today we grieve.
I remember the very first time I saw you at Vineyard Church in Florence. You were impossibly cool, visibly passionate about your art, and the ability to talk to a room like you were 1 on 1. Every week you gave your all in your songs, and I had the extreme pleasure of getting to know you better. I attended your bible study, where I was further shown what a strong, Christ-Centered person you were. You were a rock in a storm, and I thought no wave could break you.
I felt every emotion over the course of the last 9 days since I first heard the news, and tonight when I learned your passing was suicide. I felt sadness, disbelief over and over, anger, regret over losing touch with you, and I don’t know what else. In your Celebration of Life ceremony tonight, so many people spoke about your strengths, and the weaknesses none of us observed, or at least perceived/believed.
A particular speaker mentioned that mental illness is sometimes driving along the road past a hillside, and thinking “One turn of the wheel, and my pain’s gone.” They stated, and I’m paraphrasing because frankly at he time I was struggling just to keep my composure, that it is during these moments that we can lose ourselves in them, or pull ourselves out. They suggested that over time, we find ourselves in more and more of these situations, and eventually we may not be able to pull ourselves out of them, and we just might turn that wheel.
I think I understand, and I think that’s dangerous.
People have asked “Why didn’t he ask for help?”
I answer, perhaps because he convinced himself after each episode that he was really okay, and that his reaction was normal, and that he really does love everything, and he has no idea how he ever thought of something so grim as what he was just entertaining.
I worry that a lot of us have those thoughts. Perhaps its climbing the highest cliff and testing gravity, just to make sure its still on. I saw a post last weekend about a Diabetic (Type I) who admitted to giving himself 60 units, and going to bed. He wrote that he couldn’t help it, got up, and ate when he started to drop too low.
We, society, always say-and to a fault-if you need me, call me, text me, come over. I don’t think enough of us understand, in that moment, people aren’t going to do that. They won’t think Timmy loves me, Jodie wouldn’t be the same if I was gone, Oh there’s a project due Thursday that really nobody else can handle. They are drowning in an obsessive, compulsive daymare where clarity is gone, and all they can see is the black sucking them in.
Because a sane person would remember those things, they would remember they matter, they are important, they are adored, and idolized. What do we need to do to help our friends who are struggling as this? I don’t know the answer, but I know that the night before Ashley was talking with people, laughing, being Ashley. And the next day, he was gone.
We were told to honor Ashley’s memory, to be kind, to be grateful & to show gratitude, to be ourselves. I regret losing touch with him. I don’t know how many people actually read my facebook posts, my instagram posts, or this blog in general. Sometimes I think it’s just me, but if you’re reading this, and we’ve lost touch, I’m sorry. I choose to honor my friend by trying to live my life differently going forward, and that starts with reconnecting to those I’ve lost.
For those considering it, I love you. I don’t want you to kill yourself. Even if I don’t like you, you are a person and worthy of love.
You were a star, Ashley, and a man like you doesn’t come around every day. The world is more dim without you.