Hardest. Post. Ever.  But compelled to write it.  If you know me on Facebook, you know that my 19 year old niece died this week in a car accident.  We are stunned, bereft and anguished by her loss.

She, however, is dancing with the angels.

Ashtyn is the one who made me an aunt.  She was my parents first grandchild, my brother’s first baby.  She was special in that regard.

I got to spoil her when she was little.  I was showering yesterday and remembered the little leopard outfit I was just giddy to give her because it was going to complement her coloring and her curly red hair when she was so little.

We have the funniest stories to share about her growing up.  Her imaginary friend, Doolah.  The way she called my dad “Papa”.  Her little giggle.  How much she LOVED her dad and mom and brother.  Her Instagram account where she posted awesome selfies and so many of them smiling.

She just graduated high school in 2013.  She was attending college and living at home.  She was coaching for her high school track and field team.  She had a promise ring from a sweet young man.  She loved dogs and had a beautiful green butterfly tattoo on her right foot.

Ashtyn was not perfect, and I am not here to immortalize her as such.

But she was a star in this dark world.  Her facebook page is flooded with memories and tributes to her, even from kids who didn’t know her that well.  She sparkled and shined and touched everybody she came into contact with.

She loved Jesus and she knew Jesus – and so we have HOPE.

We are devastated and sad that we won’t see her engaged, married, mothering.  That we won’t see her graduate college and excel at whatever work she took on.  That she won’t be here to celebrate family holidays, and just everyday, with us.

I watched my brother, sister in law, and nephew crumple under the weight of the news that Ashtyn was no longer with us.

And bravely, they chose to give life to others through her death.

We know she lives on in eternity with a Father who had a plan for Ashtyn’s short 19 years.  While we suffer the loss of her presence, we know that SHE is indeed rejoicing in Heaven and feels no pain or sorrow.  While we stumble through the next few days, weeks, months, and years – she is in perfect communion with our God and one day we will see her again.

While He holds her hand, we are held in His arms.  Oh how we will miss our fiery Ginger girl.  What a blessing it was to know you.