These are the kind of posts that I do not like writing about. It is unfair for me to write it because when it comes to something of this nature, it makes me physically sick. As an unemotional sort of fellow, I detach myself from the story, because I feel it needs to be written in a way that isn’t maudlin and all over the place.
Nevertheless, what I’m going to say will not offer solace to everyone, or make things any easier.
Because the emotions are too raw and hard for everyone to wrap around.
I write this because it is the only way for me to convey my thoughts, as fresh as they are in my in mind this evening.
Ashley Okland, a real estate agent for Iowa Realty, was found shot in a model home in West Des Moines Friday afternoon. She passed away a short time later at Iowa Methodist Medical Center.
I didn’t know Ashley very well, but we were acquainted through our membership with the Young Professionals Connection, an organization that is affiliated with the Greater Des Moines Partnership.
Ashley was well respected and very liked. I didn’t write that because it was easy to say it.
Because that sentence is true.
YPC is like a little family. Well, not little, but nevertheless everyone knows everyone in YPC. We meet for gatherings, committee meetings, or run into each other outside of YPC. When someone leaves town for another job or something new, it’s tough but manageable. We celebrate someone’s promotion and weddings. We offer support when someone is laid-off or is having a bad day.
But when something like this happens, unexpectedly, senselessly, and tragically, it makes that small “big” circle feel broken. And empty.
This week, has been, in no other words, a tough, draining, sad week for a lot of people. From the death of Sgt. Eric Stein, the senseless car accident that claimed the life of Chad Wells in Altoona, to this evening’s horrific and deplorable act, there is sadness, people searching for answers, and broken hearts.
Life in disarray.
It is my hope that all of us who knew Ashley will not just relive the memories and the good moments, but also to take one thing that she said or did that stood out to you, and apply it to your lives.
That should be the best and most lasting way to honor Ashley Okland.
Flowers will wilt away, the mourning will end, and we have to move on in our lives, but the lessons that someone provides, whether their time is short or long, is something that will be passed on every day.
Those are the only comments I will make on this. No other words are needed.
I was asked to post the following information with regards to the upcoming events that will take place later this week.
- Visitation will be held Tuesday, April 12, at Fjeldberg Lutheran Church, 209 N. 2nd Ave. in Huxley, Iowa from 4 to 8 p.m. A Celebration of Life will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, April 14, at Lutheran Church of Hope, 925 Jordan Creek Pkwy, West Des Moines, Iowa. A burial will be held in Huxley.
- The Young Professionals Connection Social Hour-Fundraiser for the Big Brothers/Big Sisters’ Bowl for Kids Sake has been changed. YPC members will not bowl or raise money for Big Brothers/Big Sisters. The event has been changed to celebrate Ashley’s life and the donations received will be given to the Ashley Okland Memorial Fund. The event will be held Thursday 4/14/11, at Catoors, 1306 Grand Ave. in West Des Moines.
- This post will remain “sticky”, as we call it on the blogosphere, until Thursday morning. “Sticky” simply means that this will remain as the headline blog. Any new posts will be below this post. There are those who be looking up for more information or to read reactions to this story.
- Lastly, and this is personal, someone has to know, or saw something near the model home and the area. It would greatly disappoint me if this case grows “cold”. The individual who committed this should not be walking the street, and you know it. If you know anything, minuscule or significant, call the West Des Moines P.D. at (515) 222-3363, or the Polk County Crime Stoppers at 515-223-1400.