Ashley Wilda


from Friends for Life by Andrew Norriss

“She could remember how nice everyone had been that day… particularly nice… But by then of course, she was in The Pit, and when you were in The Pit, people being nice to you didn’t mean anything. Nothing did.

‘It’s funny, isn’t it,’ said Roland, ‘how people being nice doesn’t help when you feel like that. You know they want to help, you know they’re trying to help, but it’s like they’re in another world. They have no idea how you’re really feeling. Or what to do about it.’

Yes, thought Jessica. Yes, that was pretty much how it had been.

‘And you can try and pretend that everything’s okay.’ Roland was still talking. ‘You can act as if you think it matters whether you’ve done any schoolwork or what you eat or what you wear, but in the end… the pretending is such an effort, and you get so tired, that all you really want is for it to stop. For everything to stop… You look around, and everyone else seems to be able to get up in the morning and smile and laugh and enjoy themselves… and you think, why can’t I do that? Why can’t I be ordinary?  Why do I have to be different from everyone else?’

‘And that’s what gets you in the end, isn’t it?’ It was Francis who was speaking now. ‘The being different. You want so much to be like everyone else but…’ He looked sympathetically across at Roland as he spoke. ‘You know it’s never going to happen. You’re always going to be different.’…

It was one of these letters that described something Jessica remembered and that the others instantly recognized as well. It talked about the extraordinary speed with which the feeling that life had no meaning could disappear on certain occasions and everything become normal again–for a while, at least. How one day you could be in the depths of despair and the next you could wake up feeling… okay. How little things like something someone said, or a scene from a film, or even a piece of music could change your mood in the blink of an eye. And how, when you were in one mood, the other seemed so silly. When the sun was out you could hardly remember the clouds and, when you were in The Pit, it was difficult to believe that sunshine had ever existed.”

from The Midnight Dress by Karen Foxlee

“‘Do you know what love is like, Rose? It’s like having a sky, a whole sky racing inside of you. Four seasons’ worth of sky. One minute you are soaring and then you are all thunderclouds and then you are deep with stars and then you are empty.'”

from Martian Child

“When you love somebody… it’s really hard when
you can’t see ’em anymore…

but, right now, you and me, here… put together entirely from atoms… sitting on this round rock with a core of liquid iron… held down by this force, that so troubles you, called gravity… all the while spinning around the sun… at 67,000 miles an hour… and whizzing through the Milky Way… at 600,000 miles an hour… in a universe that very well may be chasing its own tail… at the speed of light. And amidst all this frantic activity… fully cognizant of our own imminent demise… which is a very pretty way of saying… we all know we’re gonna die… we reach out to one another.

Sometimes for the sake of vanity… sometimes for reasons… you’re not old enough to understand yet… but a lot of the time… we just reach out and expect nothing in return.

Isn’t that strange?

Isn’t that weird?

Isn’t that weird enough?”

a poem by e. e. cummings

a poem by e .e. cummings

your homecoming will be my homecoming–

my selves go with you,only i remain;
a shadow phantom effigy or seeming

(an almost someone always who’s noone)

a noone who,till their and your returning,
spends the forever of his loneliness
dreaming their eyes have opened to your morning

feeling their stars have risen through your skies:

so,in how merciful love’s own name,linger
no more than selfless i can quite endure
the absence of that moment when a stranger
takes in his arms my very life who’s your

–when all fears hopes beliefs doubts disappear.
Everywhere and joy’s perfect wholeness we’re


I have felt, lately, that I have no new words. I do not have new things to say. I have said it all already, even if I feel the desire to express the same feelings and thoughts over and over again. For when expression does not bring change, and does not bring some new revelation, then it starts to feel useless. Words do not feel as powerful as they once were. For words to be powerful again, they must bring life. And right now, I do not see the life I wanted my words to bring about. My journal sits unfilled. I started writing about my life first because it was new and wonderful and the emotions and experiences begged to be chronicled and understood and valued, and then later because everything was so hard and I felt so lost and alone.

I find myself returning again and again to the words C.S. Lewis wrote. “I thought I could describe a state; make a map of sorrow. Sorrow, however, turns out to be not a state but a process. It needs not a map but a history, and if I don’t stop writing that history at some quite arbitrary point, there’s no reason why I should ever stop. There is something new to be chronicled every day. Grief is like a long valley, a winding valley where any bend may reveal a totally new landscape. As I’ve already noted, not every bend does. Sometimes the surprise is the opposite one; you are presented with exactly the same sort of country you thought you had left behind miles ago. That is when you wonder whether the valley isn’t a circular trench. But it isn’t. There are partial recurrences, but the sequence doesn’t repeat.” If I wrote every day, there would be bright spots, but mainly sorrow. I cannot change that. But it feels pointless now to chronicle it, when I do not know when it will end. Perhaps I have done all the understanding that I can do. I am sure I will write about it again, when I am driven to, or when my thoughts produce something worth writing. I am a writer. I cannot help myself, when life reaches its heights and depths. I must record the words to keep from bursting.

For now, I will turn to the words of others. Books are my friends, I hide and find comfort in their worlds and people. They affirm me. They remind me of hope. And so, when words of a wiser writer reach my heart where it needed to be found or express  what I feel better than I, I will share them here. For after all, understanding is also a function of writing. And I, like everyone else in the world, long to be understood.

I Do

Do you ever wish there were

stress-o-meters for every person so that

when the level jumped into the yellow edging

toward red it would start

beeping so that everyone would know to just

back off?


Do you ever wish there were

better things to say than the flat, stupid

words ‘I’m okay’ which call for extra, evasive

explanation when pressed which cause

your bald friend in front of you to say ‘I’m

worried about you’ and you just force

a laugh, a playful

punch to his shoulder and say, ‘How

are you feeling?’ because he has

leukemia and what right have you to

feel depressed?


Do you ever wish there were

better solutions when you wake up and

just feel nothing but know that nothing really means

something means this awful ocean of

everything deep pressed down inside you

and you just

sit and stare at the woods of your backyard and feel

empty and pointless and realize that

you can feel like you don’t exist even when

you’re breathing thinking walking and that

sometimes feels the worst of all?


Do you ever wish there were

reasons you could reach out to the person

you love rather than freeze when that song

plays in the coffee shop and you get up and walk

out into the cold or make some silly

excuse to go to the bathroom once twice because you just

can’t handle the sound wave memories

of him and his closeness and everything

you used to have?


Do you ever wish there were

days you could go to sleep again after

waking up because you went to church and then

crawled back and bed although

it’s not socially acceptable to go back to bed after

having emerged and trying

to explain to your mother that it’s like

there’s this ocean of sadness and pain inside

your chest and soul and you’re just trying

to keep the lid on but when you open it just

a crack for release the whole darn thing tries

to escape?


Do you ever wish there were

lists of all the ‘rules’ that make your life just

a tad easier like

don’t listen to acoustic music

don’t remember anything at all

don’t talk about work or school

don’t ever say you’re not okay

don’t step foot on campus

don’t get too close

which are all so obvious and easy to remember but

there are always others, hidden IEDs that

blow up in your face because you didn’t

even know they were a rule and now

you’re crying and wishing

you could go back a few seconds or minutes or hours to

avoid them?


Do you ever wish there were

things that made you feel like you

used to feel without the anticipatory

fear of that momentary light being

snatched away

things better than the

awful crushing sensation of driving

back onto campus for the first time in

six months even though you knew you

knew it was a rule but you needed to

break it anyway and

the fake smile waving your friend goodbye at

drop off and driving

away to the river after and striding in

determined even though its

February and feeling the

shock when the icy cold closes

over your head and emerging to

look at the silvery blue-gray world and remembering how

this used to inspire laughter and alive but

those days are gone and

the people are just echoes in your heart and at least

now it still makes you feel

awake like

your eyes work again?


Do you ever wish there were

roadmaps to guide you to the correct journey, the one

that tells you what to say what to do

what you should have said should have done

what you shouldn’t have said shouldn’t have done

what is needed and what is true

that leads you back to the person

you love?

on this day of love

the more I know about love

the more I can only compare it to

natural things, forces of nature

unfathomable, constant

powerful, beyond us

the mountains, blue

curving one after the other


the flowing river, alive and beautiful

over mossy rock and through quiet forest

the tree, branching and green

rooted, reaching

rough and brown, alive

the pair of hawks, wheeling

feathered and fierce, borne on wind

wild and unstoppable

the more I know about love

the more I can only follow it to God

the more I know about love

the more I can only think about you


I’ve never seemed to care much about what people think. In fact, there are some who would say I think about others’ opinions too little. But actually, I often care too much.

I care so much about if other people accept me or not, whether they approve of me or not, that I try hard not to. But that doesn’t mean I’m secure in myself. Quite the opposite. And I think that’s the root of the problem—I find difficulty in accepting myself and not letting others’ opinion’s influence me. Just letting God’s thoughts define me.

But when life goes dark, you have to think about it.

Self-criticism can go a long way when used to push yourself to reach a material goal, or do better at work or in a sport. Analyzing your weaknesses and areas where other people seem better than you. But when it comes to emotions, matters of heart, I’m finding that kind of judgment can only ever be damaging.

I’m weak.

I’m worthless and lost.

No one thinks I’m beautiful or strong.

I’m stupid and cowardly for avoiding things that hurt.

I’m weird for not wanting things I should want. For wanting things I can’t have.

I’m wrong for not being able to be happy.

I’m crazy for avoiding things I used to love.

I hate the person I am.

When I’m feeling down, it is so crazy easy to think like this. In a way, it’s my mind’s attempt to get me to feel better, heal myself. But unlike physical problems, the “you’re so weak, try harder, be like everyone else, see what they think of you” motivation strategy doesn’t work. It can’t move my heart a muscle. It actually digs me deeper into whatever hole I’ve curled up inside.

And in fact, it’s nowhere near the way God sees me.

Oddly enough, it’s probably not the way most other people see me either. So I’m trying to accept everything that I am right now, in this day, instead of obsessing over the past or future or trying to “fix” myself. It’s okay to accept the way I feel. As long as I don’t let it take over all my actions, make every decision for me, halt my ability to think. That’s one thing. It shouldn’t immobilize me or stop me from trying things that feel improbable or even impossible. It doesn’t mean I don’t seek hard after truth and challenge the way I see the world. It doesn’t mean I don’t do hard things, right things. I should always do that, but I should do it while not hating myself for how I feel while I do it. And my feelings are not always right… the feelings that say, this is beauty. this is love. this is goodness. this is pain. this is loss. this is longing, those are almost always true. the feelings that say, there is no hope. that dream is not possible. you should be afraid. you are empty and worthless. you should never try, those are almost always wrong. I should accept the fact that I feel those negative things while refuting them with what I do, how I act. That’s so so hard for me. I’m bad at it. But it’s worth it to keep trying to be better at it. But accepting where I’m at—that’s a powerful thing. It’s saying, I’m okay with the way I feel. And the way I live and try to fight for love and truth, regardless of how I feel—well, that’s important too.

No one can take that away from me.

Can tell me to love someone or stop loving someone.

Can tell me to live this way or that way as long as I’m striving to live what is good and true.

Can tell me what’s possible or impossible.

Can tell me whether to be sad or happy. Because I can’t tell myself that either.

As long as I let God define truth and goodness and chase hard after that, no one can define any area of my life for me. And I’m not wrong or sinful for being me.

Being kind to myself, when life is hard, when I’m not happy, when I’m stuck in a waiting I cannot change—that is one of the biggest and hardest things of all.

Here’s to giving it my all, no matter how much I have to give. It is enough.

on a year and four days ago

I don’t think anyone

falls in love all at once.

I think it’s gradual



almost like magic.

but looking back

I can remember the moment

I began to realize–

Mario Carts

tickle fights

laughing as the projector

almost met its end

sitting close

everyone falling toward sleep

in the dark

feeling a little cold

feeling you wordlessly

lay your blanket over me

as if you knew.

quietly walking out into the street

looking up at the sky

this odd, incredible feeling

filling my chest

pushing at the boundaries

a feeling I had never felt

didn’t know what to do with

or how to understand

but oh so strongly drawn to

almost like magic

and I knew it had to do with you.

and as I looked up

a shooting star streaked

lighting up the sky behind the clouds

almost like magic.

and so I went to my room

wrote about the night

went to sleep

but I treasured that feeling

paid attention to it

and as it grew it changed

into something beautiful

and aching

and totally unexpected

almost like magic

definitely like you.

and beneath it all

my heart has felt it

ever since.

1/24/18 – for you


I’m on the train

heading south

heading to memory

to all I’ve ever known

to where I started from

where so much started from.

and you—

you are about to fly across the ocean

to a place you’ve never been.

I pray that good winds

will lift your wings,

I pray that if you’re looking for something

you’ll find it,

I pray that you’ll know what your heart tells you

and that you’ll have the courage

to follow it,

I pray that God meets you there

in ways you’ve never felt,

that you’d know yourself better,

deeper than ever before,

I pray you will come home safe.

I am always on your side,

always here to lean on

if you need it, if you let yourself.

I will always be waiting here

as I always am

and one day, if you want to tell me

I’d so love to hear

all about it.

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