Day 282 – The Tale of two Ashtons

Newborn Ashton kitty : )

Two years ago Ashton kitty was born. Two years ago today, at almost the exact same time, a wonderful young woman named Ashton Miller drew her last breath with her family by her side.

I never met Ashton, I wish I had that opportunity. I know of her from the pediatric cancer community. She had Rhabdomyosarcoma, the same type of cancer my friend Crystal’s daughter has. I was connected to her Caringbridge site via Ariel’s and so I followed her journey from the time she was finishing up her chemo/radiation protocol and declared NED (no evidence of disease). This was just as my husband was starting his journey.

Ashton did well, she was in college and thriving when she found out she had relapsed. There were options, and then there were none. This is a brute of a disease, it moves FAST and it’s rare, only 350 cases a year in this country. When her tumors didn’t respond her friends started a fund to send the entire Miller clan to Paris for Christmas, something Ashton had always wanted to do. I donated and was ecstatic when, a few weeks later, the whole family climbed on a plane! From their photos and trip updates they had the best time possible. Ashton went back to school and next we heard she was making plans to go to the beach for spring break with friends.

The next time I signed onto her page for an update all it read was “It is easier to leave than be left”. Stunned, I just sat and cried. I was also holding the kitty in the photo, waiting for Jim to get back from the store with newborn kitty formula. I knew instantly that this tiny creature would need a guardian angel since saving kitties this little is an uphill battle. I immediately named him Ashton, and after we attempted an initial feeding I put him into a basket with a towel and light and tucked in the card the family had signed and sent to me as a thank you. I also took the picture at the top of the page to document how little he was. Yes, that is a quarter next to him : )

Feeding the week-old baby

 It worked. He started to grow and thrive. We fed him every couple of hours around the clock. Even before his eyes opened he was curious and wanted to just be around us.

Six weeks later

He grew fast : ) And yes, that tail is unusually long. He has also never meowed, he coo’s like a dove. I debated for some time whether to write to Ashton’s family and tell them about him but in the end I did. It’s not every day someone names a rescued kitty after your daughter but Judy seemed amused by it. I later wrote his story for the Great Animal Rescue project and it was published on Care 2 Causes. You can read the whole story here. (If you notice the date that story was published you’ll see it was just before the one year anniversary.)

I dedicate today’s post to the Miller family. I can’t imagine losing a child and yet 7 families a day do just to cancer. I just happened to know of one family on one day. Their Ashton was only a few years younger than my daughter and a little older than Sue’s daughter. Our kids are our lives. I know Ashton loved Art and was an Art and Art History major at the University of North Carolina.

“She was a talented artist and dreamed of owning her own gallery.  She wanted to live in Paris, and through the generosity of hundreds of people, she was able to visit Paris with her family in December.  She loved photography, music, reading and spending time with her family and her friends.  Ashton was a member of the Zeta Tau Alpha Sorority at UNC-Chapel Hill and enjoyed cheering for her beloved Tar Heels.”

She also loved Carolina Blue, the color that the family requested people wear to her memorial. In that vein I decided to use this amazing and unique cloth today:

Elephants and Egyptian figures and ???

How utterly COOL is this? I hope that, as an Art major, Ashton would have liked this as much as I do. I have absolutely zero idea what era this is, possibly 30′s, possibly earlier. I bought this from Bekah at the Alameda Flea market last month and knew it needed to be used for a special occasion. Today is that day.

We pulled out ALL the Fiesta color stops! Only colors not represented are green and purple but they had their day in the spotlight a couple days ago so they’re fine : )

Modern blue, vintage blue, vintage yellow, modern orange and scarlet, its all there. I guess there isn’t enough orange on the table since Ashton kitty didn’t hop up : ) He’s actually been curled up on my bed with all this rain!

Ashton and Max

I know every day is a struggle for Ashton’s family. I know a part of their hearts is missing and they have to go forward. Today is going to be hard so if you’d like, you can go to Ashton’s page here and leave them some love.

“The only thing standing between me and total happiness is reality.”

Ashton

Cancer sucks. That’s all I have to say about that.

Tomorrow – Calder Part 2

84 days to go!!

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