A letter to my family
Dear Mom & Dad,
I'm so sorry I couldn't be with you today. It's not because I didn't want to spend Christmas with my family. I did... more than anything... and I miss you very much.
I hope you understand why I'm not there today. I hope you understand why you didn't see me much this year. I hope you understand why I couldn't be with you... on Christmas day, or Thanksgiving day, or my birthday, or either of your birthdays.
It's not because I don't love you. It's not because I don't need you. It's not because I don't care.
I did it... for them.
I hope you understand why I'm always working. I hope you can appreciate the importance of my job. I hope you can at least feel comforted... by my love for what I do.
Honestly, I don't do it for me. I do it for them.
Mom- I know that your heart is broken today, as you spend Christmas without your daughter. I know how much you want me there... I know how much it means to you. I know that you'll have to go through this day... just trying not to cry. I know that you'll pretend to be okay, even though you're not. I know that your only wish today... is to have me there to share it with you. And I know that... in any joyful family moment today, you'll stop and think, "I wish Ashley were here." I know that I won't be there.
I'm so sorry, Mom.
Dad- I know that you understand my responsibilities, but obviously... you still miss me. I know it's been so hard for you... to watch your daughter struggle, despite how hard I work. I know that you'd do everything in your power... just to lighten my load... just to see me more. I know that you're just waiting... for the day when I get to take a break and come visit. I know how much it hurts you... when that day never comes. And I know that our family isn't complete today --and most days-- because I'm not there.
I'm so sorry, Dad.
I realize that I'm not the only one who's had to sacrifice here. With each of my personal sacrifices... you've both been forced to sacrifice as well. You've had to sacrifice your time with me. You've had to sacrifice your weekends with me, trips with me, and holiday dinners with me. You've had to sacrifice... your daughter.
But I also know... that you'd sacrifice everything --a million times over... just to see me smile.
I know how incredibly lucky I am... to have 2 parents who would do anything for me. I know how much you want to help me... and I know just how helpless it makes you feel when I ask you not to.
It's not because I don't appreciate your offers. It's not because I don't want your help. It's not because I don't need you.
It's only because... quite honestly... you've done more than enough for me... all my life.
And even as I say things like, "I hope you understand" ... I already know in my heart... that you do understand. You do get it. You do support me. You're beyond proud of me.
Even still... I know that it's hard... to constantly miss your daughter. To always worry about me. To always make wishes for me... and have them not come true.
But no matter what, I want you to know... that I'm okay. I promise you I am. You don't have to worry so much.
And more than anything... today, I want to say thank you. Thank you for understanding me. Thank you for encouraging me. Thank you for supporting me. Thank you for loving me through it all.
Thank you for teaching me responsibility. Thank you for showing me compassion. Thank you for helping me each and every time I need you. Thank you for guiding me through my journey.
And thank you... for the unconditional love I've known... every single day of my life.
Because of my sacrifices --and your sacrifices-- I'm able to make a difference in this world. And because I do without --and you do without-- my dogs don't have to. From the bottom of my heart and their's... thank you, Mom and Dad.
While I can't physically be with you today... or most days... my heart is always there. I'm always thinking of you, missing you, and loving you. I'm always with you... always, always, and forever.
And no matter where life takes me... there will never come a day when I don't need you. Because no matter how old I get... I will always be your little girl.
Merry Christmas, Mom & Dad. I love you.