I will never forget June 13, 2013 for as long as I live. I was on the phone having yet another argument with my current/ex boyfriend when I heard the familiar beeping of a call on my other line. I looked at the phone and saw that it was a call from my homie J. On any given day, I would welcome a call from my estranged buddy, but the vibe around the call was dark. A sense of foreboding drifted over me as I anticipated bad news. I didn’t want to hear it, I didn’t want to feel it, so I let the call go to voicemail. I knew that my friend Ashli had been in the hospital, but I had heard reports that she was showing progress. I called back and after hearing the words “they’re pulling the plug,” my world went completely silent. All sounds around me were muted. It felt as though time itself stopped. Yet, something in me wouldn’t let go of hope. Disney manipulated me into thinking that dreams come true. I guess not all dreams are meant to be realities.
Ashli Hardney died the next day. I remember being at work checking her face book page for status updates. I left my phone on in case her condition improved. On my breaks, I hoped and I pleaded. I remember my phone vibrating. I remember my ex best friend crying on my voicemail and at that point I knew my homie was gone. As I walked home, I grew angry with my surroundings. It was a beautiful, nearly perfect day in Connecticut. I questioned the cruel irony. How could one of the most painful days of my life be one of the most beautiful? It seemed unfair. It still does.
My pain runs deep. I felt a plethora of emotions rip through my heart that day. It still takes my breath away. I felt guilty about all the times we bumped heads. I felt guilty about the times we were supposed to meet and didn’t get the chance to. I felt like I should have been at home while she was in the hospital. I regretted the fact that I let my foolish pride keep me from meeting up with her. Recently, I’ve distanced myself from a lot of people in my life because of the assumption that they wanted their space. I stopped by her house the last time I came home and rang her doorbell once. I figured she didn’t answer because she didn’t want to see me. I wish I had rang that damn doorbell until she came out. I wish I had waited out there all damn night. I will forever regret the opportunity I missed. I feel like someone sucked all the air out the room and still expected me to breathe. I cried for days, lost sleep, and could barely function.
Sometimes I cry when I think about her. I lost one of the best parts of myself. She was my party host, bartender, fellow writer, friend, relationship coach, psychologist, and sister. Even though I didn’t always agree with the things she did, I loved her. Still do. I hope she knows that. I’d give anything I have to tell her that. I’d give the world to have one last conversation or one last laugh.
I just keep trying to make sense of all of this. One of the most genuine people I have ever known is no longer with us and I don’t understand why. The only theory that I could come up with is the only comfort I have had during this whole ordeal. Maybe we’re all sent here with an objective, a purpose for living. Some people take 80, 90 years to complete theirs. But Ashli was special. She only took 25 years to complete her mission. She made more of an impact on this world in her 25 years than most people make in 75+. We may live long, but she lived strong. We should all be so lucky as to touch the amount of people’s lives that she did. Maybe God or whatever powers that be chose her to light the path for the rest of us to follow. I can’t think of a braver soldier for the job. Now that her job is done, she gets to rest far away from the troubles of this harsh reality.
Although I’m still so hurt, I am on the road to recovery. Every time I broke down, I felt as though I was disrespecting Ashli’s memory. She lived such a joyous, outgoing life. I know that she wouldn’t want any less for the people that she loved. Every time I felt like I couldn’t go on, I knew she was out there somewhere telling me to get my punk ass up and enjoy my life. Rather than drown in a pool of my own pain and despair, I want to live for those who no longer have the option. I am in control of my health, happiness, and success. Ashli Hardney lived out loud and not even death was able to silence her. Wherever she is, I just hope she knows how much we love her and how much of an impact she made on our lives. So it is with both sadness and joy that I say “Mission accomplished my friend, mission accomplished.”