I must admit the truth. Hearing of Ashleigh Paris death in the tragic van accident about a month ago hit me the hardest. Just the night before, she and her best friend Morgan had helped a homeless man at our building and we shared some very meaningful conversation.
It was not just for her that I grieved, but also Morgan who I knew would be devastated. The next day at our impromptu gathering to support the program folks involved and others who joined as well in support, she sought me out in the crowd and wept in my arms. It was Ashleigh who convinced Morgan to come out of addiction and into recovery and at every encounter I would make sure to remember Morgan's name because Ashleigh told me not to forget it. She treasured her best friend and others as well.
Many times Ashleigh would come into ATB and head straight for the Women's Clothing Closet, and I would ask her did she not have enough clothes? Her response was that she was getting some for her roommates. That was typical Ashleigh, more concerned about others. She and I had multiple conversations about how she and her mom made spaghetti and how she would make some for me, and as I stared at her slightly crooked but beautiful nose, I saw the Italian, knowing that would be a special treat.
But my favorite moment with her was when she asked me to baptize her. Maybe asked is too gentle a word - she demanded in a strong way that I do so as soon as possible. Maybe she knew something, but there was no doubt this woman, regardless of her young age and past had made me think of her as a daughter, and more truth be told I have cried through typing this blog.
I miss her badly, as I also miss the other courageous women who perished. But I know heaven just gained a most beautiful soul who earned her angel wings on her last days on this earth!
Glenn is an ex-Marine Viet Nam vet who is also a recovering alcoholic, clean and sober for 30 years. He has been involved in start up and ongoing recovery ministry at North Atlanta Church and Campus for the last two decades. He has a passion for outreach and to spread the message that the answer to lasting and fulfilling recovery from addiction is in a relationship with Jesus Christ. He and the ATB team are available to assist in your questions or needs on an individual basis and will do so maintaining complete confidentiality. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.