On September 1, 2016, time came to a complete halt at Mount Carmel Academy. The upsetting news of Ashley Code’s passing permeated the atmosphere as classmates clung to each other in prayer. Ashley Code, a beloved Mount Carmel Academy student who unceasingly spread the love of Christ, had gained her angel wings that morning due to an inoperable, cancerous brain tumor.
Almost instinctually, students, myself included, began to wonder how God could inflict this upon the sweetest girl in school. No one seemed to have an answer for that question. However, my mind traveled back to the Trust Walk on our Junior Retreat. As I had tied the rugged bandana tightly against my eyes, I grasped Ashley Code’s smooth arm with every bone in my body. Although Ashley was very unsteady herself, she guided me throughout a woodsy area, but I was extremely nervous because I could not see the path ahead of us. Of course, by participating in this activity with her, I decided to place loads of trust in Ashley and her instabilities.
In a similar way, when I found out the horrendous news of her passing, I explicitly chose to trust in God’s plans, despite how hard that was. I’ve learned what ultimate faith in God is. Trusting in the Lord is like wearing a blindfold, knowing that He will lead me safe to shore. Although ferocious waves may thrash against my weary body, I have a loyal Savior who can walk on water and cleanse me of all wrongdoing. What more could I ask for?
Without a doubt, Ashley Code traded her purple butterfly wings for magnificent angel wings. Ashley continues to send little hidden messages to others to remind them of her presence. For example, Mrs. Kurica states, “On the day that Ashley Code passed, Mrs. Mickal brought me a single pink rose from the Grotto. A few weeks after receiving the rose, I noticed that the rose had not turned brown but instead had turned a deep Butterfly purple. Proof that Ashley still is with us!” Evidently, God is working miracles through Ashley in Heaven.
Although Ashley continues to spread joy from up above, Ashley lived her earthly life truly as “Jesus, Others, Yourself.” Even though Ashley was receiving constant radiation and chemotherapy, she could always be seen across campus with a goofy smile asking you how you were doing. As Mrs. Gerrets explains, “Ashley was never first in her own life, and that small fact always humbled me; no matter the circumstances, she had a way of making others feel important, loved, special. We used to go over her to do list on her phone during IS, and my kids often appeared there. She wanted to bake for them because she thought that they were beautiful. This amazing young woman, fighting for her own life, literally, wanted to bake for MY children. Just thinking about it brings a tear to my eye.”
Even those who did not know Ashley personally were touched by her presence. As soon as you met Ashley, she made you feel as if you had known her forever. Somehow, she managed to fill a hole in your own heart with her sincere friendliness. Ms. Hode, Ashley’s 9th grade moderator, states, “The first time I met Ashley was on a Saturday morning in January of 2012 when she, Mrs. Cassi [Ashley’s mother], and Mr. Michael [Ashley’s father] walked into my classroom for Ashley’s MCA interview. She was, of course, all smiles, and as gentle and as kind as could be. The 15-20 minutes or so I spent talking with Ashley sitting across from me was an absolute joy and left me in awe…I was truly blown away and couldn’t write enough complimentary things about her to turn back into the admissions team.”
Due to Ashley Code’s tenacious faith, Ashley turned countless people back to Christ. Suddenly, hundreds of people who had turned away from the Catholic Church began to attend rosaries, the Sacraments, and Mass. In fact, when Ashley passed away, her birthday officially became declared as Ashley Code Day: Pay It Forward. Therefore, on September September 15, 2016, what would have been Ashley’s 18th birthday, the first Ashley Code Day was in full swing. People across the city, state, and even nation began to perform random acts of kindness that Ashley would have performed on any given day. Evidently, Ashley’s impact on the world continues to spread like wildfire. It really makes me wonder; how can I live my life in a way that Ashley did every day of her earthly life?