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Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013
A song for AshleyPosted Tuesday, January 3, 2012, at 11:25 AM
Early last week, Zach Nixon of Aurelia ran in to Ashley Kruse at the local Casey's. Their conversation was short but Ashley recalled the fun they used to have when they were choir members at Aurelia High School. "We need to get the choir back together and sing," she said at the end of their conversation. "Yeah, we do," Zach responded.
Zach carried through on that request, just for Ashley, who was killed in a car accident on Thursday. She had loved being a part of the high school choir for four years.
Nixon, who graduated a year after Ashley in 2010, knew it would be appropriate if members of their "group" were back together to sing at her funeral. He contacted choir director Deb Peterson to get her opinion on his idea and she was all for it and said if he could get the people, she would volunteer her time to work with them.
Thanks to Facebook, he put out the word, on short notice, to those who were choir members with them, that they were hoping to get together for one last song. The response was overwhelming.
The only thing he had left to do was ask Ashley's mom Carolyn, the night before the funeral, if it would be all right if they sang for Ashley, not knowing if the gesture would be too much for the family to handle or if it would be comforting.
Carolyn was extremely touched.
So, two hours before the funeral, Peterson went to the now Alta-Aurelia School to meet with them and work up a song for Ashley. There were 13 "kids" that showed up, nine of which were alumnus of Aurelia High School (two of them were my kids, I am pleased to say) and four present choir members who were in choir with Ashley when they were freshmen. Peterson's husband and teacher Susan Fry also took part. Many more past choir members wanted to attend but just could not make it.
They filed in together to sit in the front of the church and Pastor Missy Brown introduced them as Ashley's Tribute Choir.
There was sorrow - knowing that Ashley would have loved to have been right there with those singers, singing along with them - and there was warmth - knowing that these young adults made time for one of their fallen sisters.
Ashley was only 20; she did not have the chance to accomplish all that she wanted to in this world. I recall her working as a nurse's aide while she was in high school at the nursing home where my dad lived.
She told me she was going on to school to pursue a career in nursing. The career choice suited her - she was very caring with the residents, perhaps getting that from her mom who is a nurses aide. She always had a smile on her face.
Aurelia has lost four young people in less than seven years. Each has lived on and left his or her own legacy. And each left a message for all the other young people of Aurelia - life is precious and we don't know when it will end.
In Ashley's case, those young students, for at least awhile, will be more cautious while driving and that is a good lesson.
Ashley's funeral was concluded with the playing of one of her favorite songs, "If I Die Young," by country musicians, The Band Perry. She had told her mom she wanted that song played at her funeral if she did ever die young.
"Lord make me a rainbow, I'll shine down on my mother, She'll know I'm safe with you when she stands under my colors..." are part of the lyrics..there was not a dry eye in the place. "Go with peace and love, Gather up your tears, keep 'em in your pocket, Save 'em for a time when you're really gonna need 'em..."
My deepest sympathy to Ashley's family and friends.
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Lorri Glawe is a reporter for the Pilot Tribune in Storm Lake.