Paradox, or Balance?

Ashley O'Rear

Ashley O’Rear

Sometimes life defies explanation.

How can a heart be filled with joy and sorrow at the same time?

How can twelve years seem like an eternity, but wasn’t it just yesterday?

How can a simple photograph bring tears to a smiling face?

How can unfathomable blessing give rise to unconquerable pain?

Maybe it’s more about balance than paradox.

Maybe the joy of the first fourteen years is meant to balance the sadness of the last twelve, the sadness of today.

And what’s a mere twelve years anyway, compared to the glorious vastness of eternity?

How can a daddy’s heart not smile at the innocent beauty in those eyes, even as the gentle tears are a reminder of how long those eyes have been gone?

And though the pain of her absence can never be completely conquered, neither can it overpower the blessing of her presence.

It’s that presence, even now, even after twelve years, that brings balance.

And even though tears may continue to flow, they no longer flow from a heart of despair.

They flow in quiet remembrance of a life well-lived, and in anticipation of a grand reunion … someday.

I miss you, Ashley.

I always will.

You make heaven more real, and the anticipation of it a little bit more sweet.

Your absence hurts so much because your presence brought so much joy.

You live in my heart forever.

I will see you again.

Until then…

Paul O'Rear Signature


My daughter Ashley died of cancer at age 14 in 2001, twelve years ago today. This tribute was written in her memory.


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4 thoughts on “Paradox, or Balance?

    • Thank you, Skip. Your words of encouragement are greatly appreciated. As my life takes me further away from the day Ashley died, I have become better able to carry on the demanding duties of work and everyday life in spite of the emptiness created by her loss. The pain has not gone away. It is simply moving from a place of prominence in the foreground of my life, where it started when Ashley died, to a less conspicuous place somewhere in the background. There will always be an emptiness. There will always be something missing. But I am learning better each day how to go on living, and loving, and laughing, and remembering… with a broken heart.

    • Thanks, Micah. She was a beautiful person. She touched so many lives while she was here, and it amazes me how many people continue to be touched by her memory and her legacy. I appreciate your comment and your encouragement.