Written by Pamela Foster, Mother of Ashlynne, and unwavering advocate for the protection of children in Indian Country
This month on November 13th we celebrated Ashlynne’s birthday. This will be the 5th birthday where the only one who couldn’t attend was Ashlynne. Despite her physical absence, this day still belongs to her. On this beautiful Fall day, we decorated the dining room with yellow balloons and streamers and played music perfect for the occasion.
Ashlynne’s favorite food is spaghetti, but this year we baked her lasagna and a cake made from scratch. During dinner we shared individual stories with Ashlynne; while the kids were laughing, internally I was crying. Five years later, it still hurts knowing all we have left are memories.
Well, we ate until we were full and we sang … “happy birthday to yoooooou.” It used to be “and many mooooooore,” but that changed after we lost Ashlynne. Logically, death means our loved ones never grow a year older, and “many more” is something we can never be sure of.
Never, in a million years, did I think I’d ever be faced with the agony of how to celebrate my child’s birthday after her death. Yet it happened to me. As I look back on Ashlynne’s life, I remember a perfect little girl who only knew how to love. A precious gift to our family and all the happy memories she gave us.
Since Ashlynne’s passing I made a promise to be her voice and bring awareness of child abductions, and this I have kept. As I reflect, I remember those heart wrenching days and living with this tragedy is still very much unbearable. It was pain and loss that drove me to voice my concerns and bring to light problems that we faced on Indian Country. I am happy we now have a law passed in remembrance of Ashlynne and her legacy will be remembered.
Today, I have a message for Indian Country, if you haven’t received any AMBER Alert trainings please do; don’t wait until a tragedy arises.
Do this for your community and make it a safer place for our children.