One of the many things that Ashley and I would relate on was our love of reading. She was always offering up good book recommendations and I want to pass on a few of them here.
After her diagnosis there were several books that Ash spoke so highly of. I had put them on my mental list, but hadn't gotten around to them. Since her passing I have made my way to them and have accumulated a few others that I have a sense she put in my path.
I can remember being in our hotel room in Houston when Ash told me about this book. Shortly after I happened upon an extra copy, courtesy of my mother-in-law, but it sat on my shelf until a week ago. The stories shared by Jesuit priest, Gregory Boyle, about his experiences working within the gang ridden community where he founded Homeboy Industries, offer such a deep view into the true spirit of compassion. I found reading the same words that Ashley once read to be such a profound way to connect to her and to appreciate the perspective she had formed as her time drew short.
I am in the very beginning of this one, but I know it had a real impact on Ash. She spoke often about, "her girl, Pema," and the lessons she had gained from her teachings. I was always so amazed by Ash and Miguel's ability to find joy and gratitude despite everything falling apart and I think for Ash this book may have helped with that.
This book was just sent to me by another great friend and native Skagitonian who happens to now be a grief counselor (what are the odds?). The author was one of her professors and while I haven't dove in quite yet, based on the dedication it seems she suffered the loss of one of her own children which then catapulted her into the work of grief and bereavement.
This book came recommended by one of Ashley's other favorite spiritual teachers, Tara Brach. She mentions it in one of her talks on loss that are linked here.
I'm sure you can find these books most places, but I have linked to Amazon Smile, where after you follow the instructions in this video you can donate to the Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation with each purchase.
I'm a firm believer in the power of words to transform us and I promised Ashley that her death would change me for the better, so it is my intention that somewhere in these pages I will experience a shift of sorts and I hope they can for some of you as well.
From my aching heart to yours,