Since Ashley passed away back in the summer of 2012, I have been fortunate enough to still be in contact with some of her close friends. I am able to continuously hear memories her and her friends shared, some of which make me laugh, and some that bring tears to my eyes. It has been a true blessing, and because I have wanted to start having guest bloggers on my own blog- it gave me a great idea. With Ashley's two year just a week past, I thought having one of her friends guest post would be perfect! This is Holly from The Catz Meow, she has known Ashley since the two of them were young college girls partying the nights away at fraternity houses (and yes, I was snuck into some of those parties at 16- thinking I was the coolest girl in town!) Holly runs her own blog filled with beautifully written pieces, many of which have given me a dose of inspiration. Many of her beautifully articulated sentences will send chills down your spine- I highly recommend you checking her blog out after you read this amazing post she wrote in honor of Ashley. She also has a Facebook group The Catz Meow, and a twitter handle: @hollyamber28- go send her love!
"All I could do was feel. I felt thankful that her battle was over, thankful that she was now in a place of serenity. I felt thankful for the memories we had made, for the fact that she could now
It was Sophomore year of college, year 2006. Freshman year had come and gone, and I had pretty much stuck with the same crew, I had my best friends, and that was safe... But this year I wanted to do something different, maybe join a club, meet some new people. I found myself partying in the dirty basement of a fraternity house, new faces looking my way, unfamiliar voices asking me my name. There were Greek letters all over tee-shirts, or lack there of, and strange girls "accidentally" bumping into me. I was trying to get a beer, trying make friends, trying to fit in, still trying to figure out who I was. Luckily, I spotted a couple faces I knew. Thank God.
Skipping over the next few blurry hours of the night, I ended up hanging out with the girls of Kappa Delta Phi, National Affiliated Sorority, Kappa Upsilon Chapter. One of my best friends was already a sister, so I knew these girls would be fun to hang around. The Kappa girls didn't seem like typical sorority girls to me at all. They seemed kinder, not so judgmental, they seemed like they wanted me to be their friend. Thank God again, I thought.
The next day, I was sitting in my dorm room, my mind drenched in thoughts of homework, who my new roommate would be, fears of getting stuck in the elevator going down 12 floors. These thoughts were quickly interrupted when I got an instant message (back when AIM was the thing to do) from a girl named Ashley. "Hey Holly. This is Ashley Dias. I met you at the fraternity party. Would you wanna go to another party with me tonight?" "Sure," I said. "Come to my dorm, let's get ready together." After a million outfit and hair style changes, Ashley and I were ready to hit the streets of UMass Lowell. Sidenote: we probably thought we looked a lot better than we did, but tight belly shirts and lots of bronzer seemed like the perfect ensemble for us. "Um, Ashley, your heels are really high. Are you gonna be able to walk all the way to the party with those on?" She didn't even have to say a word, and I somehow knew that Ashley probably didn't even own a pair of flats, so heels it was. She was tiny, but damn could she strut her stuff in those stilettos. I knew then that this girl was hiding a lot of strength in her fragile little frame.
Ashley and I quickly decided to rush and pledge the KY chapter of the KDP sorority. Through this period, we quickly became close. We shared laughs, tears, excitements, let downs. We would take any opportunity to sneak selfies in, and we would also sneak some butterball shots before sorority meetings even though the pledge process was supposed to be "alcohol free." Through pledging, sisterhood, eventually leaving the sorority, growing up a little bit, holding my hair back on my 21st birthday while her car was outside getting towed (Thank you for that again, Ash!), and eventually becoming roommates, I not only found myself a friend, I found myself a sister. We had our ups and downs, our fights, our periods of not talking. We screwed up, made up, and toasted to the good times. I became close to her family, she became close to mine.
We both grew up a little more after college and 7 room mates in one apartment days, but I never forgot some strong lessons she taught me. "Never give up" she would tell me. "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger..." "I may lose some battles, but in the end, I will win the war."
I always knew deep down what she really meant by that. Ashley hid it well, but she was battling a huge fight against Cystic Fibrosis. She had good days and bad days, and we talked about them all without one tear rolling down her cheek. It never seemed to phase her, she never acted like she was any different than the rest of us. She was a tiny girl, but she had the fiercest heart. Through so many doctors appointments, and uncomfortable procedures, Ashley never complained. Instead, she would text me and ask me how my day was and how work was going. Really? She had so much more going on in her life, so many more important days to get through. My work day didn't matter, but that was just the kind of friend Ashley was. Always putting other people's issues first.
In the summer of 2012, Ashley fought as hard as she could to win her fight against CF. Again, she impressed me as she blogged, and posted on Facebook, and showed the world how strong she was. To me, that's a true win. Laughing in the face of something that would knock a normal person to the ground, is real authentic heroism. This girl was a forced to be reckoned with, rising no more than 5 feet tall... she was the strongest girl I knew.
"RIP Ashley..." "Rest in Peace Angel..." "Breathe easy now..." I would type into my Facebook status over and over trying to find the right words to say once I heard the news of Ashley's journey to Heaven. No matter how many times I typed it, somehow hoping she could read it, I never found the right words to say. I never found ways to thank her for giving me the courage to go out and make so many new friends in college. I never really thanked her for wiping the tears off my eyes when my college boyfriend would break up with me, or for building me up when my confidence would kick me down. I never got to thank her for all the lessons she had taught me, the bravery she gave me. I never got to tell her that the backbone I have is owed to her. All I could do was sit on my bed and cry and pray that Heaven was ready for this beautiful little powerhouse to stomp around in her sparkly high heels, demanding all the candy she could eat, while giving dirty looks down on Earth to all the girls that would piss her friends or family off. I knew I had a new guardian angel, and I knew that I was lucky to have her.