Ashley Simpson: Love and Loss on Family Day
Cindy and John Simpson celebrated their wedding anniversary this weekend, even though they were both down with the flu. They played some cards, ate some cake, and remembered the good times, and the very bad times.
Like most couples who've been married nearly three decades, they count the raising of their children into adulthood as their greatest success. Cindy and John have lots of them in their blended family, including a gaggle of grandkids. Most recently they welcomed their first grandchildren, the imp Cyris, who is killing everybody daily with his cuteness.
The kids keep John and Cindy going through the tough times. And their times have been tougher than most.
For the second Family Day in a row, the Simpsons will be missing a bit piece of their hearts. Their daughter Ashley still has not been found and John is hoping to take one more trip out to Salmon Arm to find her with the help of people in the local community who refuse to give up looking for Ashley and a number of other women and girls who have mysteriously gone missing.
"We miss her dearly," John wrote to me yesterday. "We strive to go on and do right by her. Having the community coming together to try and find these missing women makes my heart leap for joy."
Thanks to John's efforts, and the determination of local women, including the incomparable Jody Leon, there is now a MMIW Drone Service which is helping search and rescue, and law enforcement, comb the woods, streams and vast wooded acres around the area, providing eyes where humans cannot see.
John is hoping for a miracle, hoping the floods don't come this year, as they did last year, and stop the searchers in their tracks.
"Things are looking up," John told me. "I'm proud to have started the ball rolling."
In the meantime, John and Cindy try to keep heart and soul together. In a twist that wounded John's already mangled heart last year, his beloved Long House was felled by twisters. It was the one piece of work he could count on, in a place both he and Ashley loved.
How many things can be taken away from a family?
I've asked myself this question, and I've failed to hear a little voice saying "it's going to be okay." Like John, I know nothing will ever be the same. We just have to keep on keepin' on.
For the family.