Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Overwhelming Loss Leads to 'Something Beautiful'

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Overwhelming Loss Leads to 'Something Beautiful'

Article excerpt

Byline: Charlie Patton

Although they were six years apart in age, sisters Megan and Ashley Walden were unusually close.

They married brothers, Mark and Jonathan Walden, who owed a roofing business together. For 11 years, the two families lived across a pond from each other in a small Clay County subdivision near where Swimming Pen Creek enters Doctors Lake. Both were mothers to two children.

So watching her older sister's 13-year battle with breast cancer, with which she was first diagnosed at age 22, wasn't easy for Ashley. During the last few weeks of Megan's life, Ashley took leave from her job so she could spend each day as her caregiver.

When Megan died in her home, at 12:10 a.m., May 10, 2010, 10 minutes after Mother's Day had ended, it left "a huge void," Ashley said. "I lost a whole lot of people in one person."

Ashley, now 31, said Megan's death left her deeply depressed.

Someone suggested that it would be therapeutic to write about her feelings. As she began writing, memories of the day Megan died came back to Ashley. She remembered walking out to the pond that separated their houses and sitting on the bank near some purple water lilies.

"An incredibly red dragonfly landed on one of the lilies," she said. "I knew there was some sort of spirit there."

Later, as she stood by a willow in their backyard, Ashley told her husband about seeing the red dragonfly. As she spoke, a red dragonfly landed on the willow. Then, as her brother-in-law sat outside his house, reading a book on grief to his children, she saw a red dragonfly again, landing on the book's binding. Later, as she looked through Megan's jewelry box, she found a pendant with the red dragonfly on it.

And so, as she began to write about her memories of Megan, a red dragonfly became a character in the story that began to emerge. The dragonfly would become the spiritual guide to Daisy, a lost Labrador retriever puppy mourning for her sister. …

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