Rediscovered this image as I packed up my photographic life last week, taken early on as a staffer for The Pilot. Ashley had just returned home after being beaten by a roommate at the institution her mother Wendy had reluctantly placed her in. I can't remember the exact nature of Ashley's diagnosis, but she was severely developmentally delayed, largely non verbal, and prone to violent outbursts. Snow White soothed her that morning, for a brief time, anyway. During the interview we talked about what was different about Ashley, and the turmoil and challenges associated with their lives.
Days later, Wendy sent a letter to the newspaper, and amazingly I found I still had it, 20 years later. Pack rat for the win. "I hope very much that you have not finished writing your article. From the moment you left and throughout the night I realized that something was wrong. I didn't know exactly what was bothering me. At first I thought that maybe it had been my nervousness from the interview or my worrying about Ashley getting upset while we were talking.
I walked you through Ashley's life by only skimming across the medical details. I spent time talking about the hardships and completely overlooked the miracles. I told you about how Ashley cried when the wind blew on her face or the sun shone in her eyes. I didn't mention that the same little girl who once cried now holds my hand and walks me to the door to take her outside, even on windy days. We often go for drives, Ashley particularly loves to drive around with the windows rolled down when it's warm enough. I look at her smiling at me through my rearview mirror and I realize that she's learning to enjoy her life rather than fear it.
I may have talked a lot yesterday about how difficult it has been to meet Ashley's needs but I want you to know that Ashley has shown me the possibilities for achievement in this life, beyond all excuses. Most of all, she has shown me the resilience of the human spirit. Ashley will pull through this in time because that's just Ashley. She will somehow manage to fight life and win. She'll do it looking at the sun." I would say that sums it up. Look for the miracles, friends.