On April 27, 1987, my wife Susan and I were blessed with the birth of our daughter Ashley. She was our first child.

We were living in Corpus Christi, Texas, at the time, where I was serving as Youth Minister for the Weber Road Church of Christ. I was 25 and Susan was 22 when Ashley was born.

As new parents, we were quickly overwhelmed with the amazing blessing that this precious baby brought into our lives, the tremendous responsibility that now rested on our shoulders, and the deep love that we instantly felt for this helpless little bundle of life.

The day you came into my life my world began anew. I didn’t know that love could run as deep as I love you.

When Ashley was a baby, I made up a simple little lullaby that I sang to her as I rocked her to sleep at night. (Press the PLAY button below to hear it.)

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When Ashley was nine years old, she was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor.

The day the doctors broke the news, my heart was torn in two. I couldn’t bear the thought of maybe one day losing you.

She underwent brain surgery to remove most of the tumor, six weeks of radiation treatments to her head and spine, and then a year-and-a-half of chemotherapy treatments. It was a long and grueling journey, but she made it! In August of 1998, we threw a “No More Chemo!” party.

For the next three years she was cancer-free. Even though she was left with a number of lingering side effects and deficiencies due to the radiation and chemotherapy, life seemed to be returning to normal. Granted, it wasn’t the same “normal” as before cancer, but our lives began to settle back in to predictable routines. It was the new normal.

Then she relapsed.

It was September 2001. Ashley was now 14 years old and a freshman at Waxahachie High School. This time the cancer advanced rapidly and was just too much for her tired and worn little body.

Ashley died on Saturday, November 24, 2001.

The day you went to heaven left a hole inside my heart, and every day the emptiness reminds me we’re apart.

All throughout her cancer ordeal, even after she relapsed, Ashley never felt sorry for herself, and she despised the idea of anyone else taking pity on her.

She was full of life and full of spunk, and was always looking forward to the next party, the next trip, or the next shopping adventure.

Her two favorite nicknames were “Sassy” and “Princess”, both of which were given to her by very special people, both of which she wore as badges of honor, and both of which were quite fitting descriptions.

Her courageous attitude and positive spirit inspired people all over the world. On the one hand she was a typical teenage girl who fought with her little brother, rolled her eyes when she thought we were being stupid, and pouted when she didn’t get her way; yet on the other hand she possessed a depth and wisdom that far exceeded her 14 years. Her motto for getting through life’s struggles was “Trust in God, and never give up.” And she lived by that motto.

Ashley is my reason for writing “Until Then”. It is a song about her: my love for her, the heartache of watching her suffer through cancer, the unspeakable grief of losing her, and the confident hope that I will see her again.

It is my hope that others will connect with and find comfort from this song.