* This is the letter that I sent in for the Regis and Kelly dream home giveaway...
I fell in love with my late husband Bryan back in the first grade. His beautiful blue eyes and fun personality was irresistible, even to a six-year old little girl. After many years of having a crush and drawing hearts next to his name in my yearbooks, I finally got the courage to ask him out to sno-daze, our sophomore year of high school’s dance. It was on that day that Bryan and I became good friends and started on our path through life together.
After three years of wishing and hoping that Bryan would ask me out, Bryan and I went on our first date, the summer before our senior year began, to a movie and dinner. On September 23rd, 2002 Bryan asked me out and we officially became a couple. After praying that we could be together for almost 10 years I finally could call him my boyfriend. I was dating BRYAN PRAIRIE, my life-long crush.
On September 22nd, 2007 Bryan and I got married at Holy Nativity Lutheran Church. It was the best day of my life. Bryan and I were so happy and excited to start our family. And on July 27th, 2008, after 4 positive pee sticks, we found out that we were having a baby.
On March 19th, 2009 our son Owen was born at 11:04am. He was healthy and beautiful. When Owen was born Bryan took him from the doctor and handed him right to me. He kissed my forehead, kissed Owen, and said "I love my little family". From the moment Bryan held Owen he was deeply in love with him. Bryan was born to be a father. He was so natural at it and seemed to know exactly what to do.
After Bryan graduated from Augustana college at the end of May with his nursing and biology degree, we decided to move home to be closer to our family. Since Bryan could not find a job in the nursing field yet he decided to work for his friends window washing company to try to get enough money to pay our bills.
On September 3rd at roughly 3pm our lives were forever changed. We received a call that Bryan had fallen off Methodist hospital while trying to save his friend/co-workers life. After we arrived at the hospital they informed us that Bryan had passed away. It was at that moment that my life stopped.
I was sitting in a room trying to process the fact that the love of my life and best friend was dead all while looking across the room into my 5 month old sons eyes. He would never get to know his father. The father that loved him more than life it self and was looking so forward to watching him grow. I went from the perfect life, with the perfect man and the perfect son... to an unemployed 24-year old widow and single mother, all within a couple of hours. My life was turned upside down and I had no idea how to make it any better.
How do you know who you are when you don't have the other person that completes you anymore. I have always been Ashley/Bryan (also known as bryley) and now I have to try to find Ashley somewhere.
This past year and a half has been a challenge. Learning how to become a single parent and how to move forward has not been easy. Owen and I have tried to take one day at a time and find our new rhythm. Although I am currently a stay at home mother, I have been trying to enter back into the work force and find a job in marketing. Shortly after Bryan passed away I started a blog (http://prairiefamily-ashleyprairie.blogspot.com/) that has since caught the attention of many readers. I hope that I can turn it into a book someday and help other young widows, just like myself.
Receiving the dream house would be a fresh start for Owen and me. I want so badly to give my son all of the things that Bryan and I intended on giving him while he was still alive. Due to my income and status it is nearly impossible for me to afford a house. I can barely afford rent. I would love to be able to try to create some stability in our lives. Have a place where Owen can grow up and play ball in the back yard. Winning this home would not only be life changing... but it would be life starting as well. Starting out on this new adventure with my now almost two-year-old son in a new home would be a dream come true. Something Bryan wanted so badly for us to have... a place to call home.