To briefly introduce myself, I am yet another sister of Ashley's, the one just younger than her. My name is Elyssa Jean Squires, and I am currently studying English at BYU-Idaho.
Within my major, I had the opportunity to take a creative writing class. Needless to say, with six siblings, five of those being girls, I was provided with plenty of real-life inspiration for my stories.
The following is an excerpt from an essay I wrote about my sisters and what I learned from them. I hope you enjoy it, and see that it expresses to you the true faith and hope that Robert and Ashley both hold.
It was Ashley who taught me about fashion.
She taught me how to apply mascara, tweeze my eyebrows, and use bobby pins. She went with me when I bought make up for the first time, and picked out colors of eyeliner and foundation that looked good on me. Countless tiffs were started as a result of a shirt of hers gone missing, or my “borrowing” her shoes. Still, she guided me through the awkwardness that is puberty. From her example, I learned how to use such contraptions as eyelash curlers, straighteners, and shaving razors. She was a walking teen magazine, always ready with tips on anything style. Even when I rolled my eyes and wished I didn’t always have to hear her opinion on my outfit or hair, I always knew that she cared when she took time to notice.
Then, of course, there were the boys. For whatever reason, Ashley had been endowed with something I had not: a knack for attracting the opposite sex. She acquired her first boyfriend at fourteen, when I was only ten. Throughout the varied and numerous boys that followed, I observed closely, wishing to learn all I could.
When I was twelve, we sat on the carpeted stairs of our house, and I asked her about kissing. Was it hard? Gross? Nice? Mostly, how did you do it? The light poured though the west windows and reflected off the rich wood floors, illuminating her amused smile that would have shone even without it. With patience, she demonstrated on her hand, and had me try it out. She explained it all, laid out the mysteries of kissing. I listened intently, hanging on every word: the teacher and the pupil.
Years later, my parents, my younger sister and I walked into a hospital room. A man lay there on the bed, and Ashley sat beside him holding his hand. Her husband of a year and four months at this time, Robert had just been diagnosed with acute mylogenous leukemia. It was November, Thanksgiving time, and there they were, in the hospital. Ashley cradled his hand, careful of the IV tube, and looked at him, hair gone, pale, with dark circles under his eyes. He looked so different, not a shadow, but something approaching one.
To her, though, it was apparent that he was the most beautiful thing in the world. One could see this because that beauty was reflected in her face; she looked so lovely, glowing almost, her warmth a contrast to the cold white and steel of her surroundings.
They smiled, talked, laughed with each other. She leaned over and they kissed lightly. Their affection was so heavy, so dense, that it made everything else light. Sorrows, fears, doubts; they all floated up to the ceiling, up and away into the heavens, displaced by the love that would not allow them to stay. She looked at him, past the fear, weariness, and pain, and loved him all the more for it.
Later, on the drive home, I hunched in the back seat of the car and watched the orange streetlights pass. Tears burned down my face, half from pain, and half from awe. It wasn’t fair. They were so young, so in love. I wished with all of me that I could wipe it away as easily as I did my tears, erase all that was hard and painful. It just wasn’t right. But, as I wept, hands trembling, the image of their hands clasped tightly flashed through my mind, and I felt—no—I knew that it would be alright.
That night, Ashley and Robert taught me what I will never forget: what true beauty and true love is.
*Robert is doing well. Still a little discomfort and pain, but it is getting better all the time. He slept the day away yesterday, then posed the comment/question to Ashley, "I just don't know why I am so tired!?" Ashley smiled at him and said, "it couldn't possibly be that you are still fighting an infection, on antibiotics and pain meds, and it definitely isn't because you just finished a round of chemo!" ;) Ashley told Robert she was proud of him for listening to his body and taking care of himself, and if he needed to sleep the week away that would be okay! Robert is completely enjoying the comforts of home and Ashley's pancakes and sloppy joes! Robert is very thin and is looking forward to his appetite coming back more and more! They have an appointment with Dr. Gollard soon, and hopefully that will yield more information about his future plans! We'll keep you posted! Thank you for your thoughts and prayers! With love!