Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Our old friend, Ashley Leiper. soon to be- Mrs. Koval

I decided to dedicate one of our blogs to our friend, Ashley Leiper. Many of the people who read our blog are family and close friends of mine who also know Ashley. I met Ashley in 6th grade at St. Anthony School. She was "the new girl" in class, and shortly after we became friends... It wasn't too long until I told her I had a crush on this boy named Mark McGuire. He didn't attend our school, but a middle school down the road called Sunrise Middle School. She met Mark and we then basically did everything together. Later on, Mark started to drive as a sophomore in high school. Ashley and I, being only in 8th grade went along for the ride but always together. I know when you're that young, the age difference seems quite extreme...I know Mark received the backlash for hanging out with the two of us for being "so much younger," from his "friends" at the time...
 Ashley's and my parents trusted Mark- even at that age. It is not hard to see that Mark was a 40 yr. old stuck in a teenager's body. He was always the responsible guy and so it was never odd for us to all hang out together. For those of you girls reading this, and even guys I suppose- you can probably understand that girls like their girlfriends to be with them during new situations or events that can make you nervous. Even today, guys joke and girls know its true, when girls all file up to go to the ladies room...talking, advice being given, make-up touch ups, and who else knows what goes on when you're with only your girlfriends...

A typical weekend or even weekday after -school day.

To me, Ashley was a girlfriend of mine that was always there for me. I could count on her for great advice, help when needed, or basically to wake me up and show me the bigger picture at times. Ashley is a very level-headed person, even though many new mutual friends of ours have come to know her later in high school and  can see her as a fun party girl :) She has bartended and worked in the hospitality industry for many years now, which fits her fun personality to a "T." But, back then before jobs and going out, my friend was the one who went through the beginning of my first love with me.
Later on, as we headed to high school, Ashley and I went to St. Thomas Aquinas High School together and remained friends. We hung out in different circles, as old friends sometimes do when growing up.. but I always felt like she was still right there.

A visit during college.
 We were kind of the "sister- type friend" that you know is there even if you are meeting new friends and doing different things on the weekends. It was the kind of friendship that you share with someone that no one else may really know or understand, and that was fine with us. We had our memories and shared stories, and we still always knew that the other one was always there no matter what... those unspoken understandings that rare but special friendships have.

I felt that I had to recap that in order to relay how excited I am for Ashley and her soon to be husband, Joseph Koval. When I first heard about her getting married, I was excited, curious, and had so many questions. As I said before, we had grown up doing different things. We went to different colleges, moved to different cities (and states at times) and obviously different jobs. I found out that they had one of those love stories that you watch in a movie. Joey is in the army, which adds that much more to their story. I won't get into the mushy details as I didn't even tell Ashley I would be writing this blog, but will say that the two knew right away that they were perfect together. It is how you hear, "you just know" type of love. From flying her out to Germany to see him, to building their relationship over the phone which was their only option most of time, one could see how they really got to know each other. I tell Ashley that people who say the long distance thing doesn't work,  are wrong. I know from first hand, as well as with her, if you want it- you can have it. Their relationship was all communication, and to me, many couples often struggle because once that physical attraction isn't so hot and heavy- you need to know that you enjoy each other's company with words, ideas, and interests. They have that, and through that, will be great in whatever their futures may bring them in the service.

I recently spent time with Ashley during her bridal shower and bachelorette party. I was so nice to catch up with her parents, extended family, and new friends...

Ashley and Joey will be married on Valentines weekend at our childhood church, St. Anthony. It will be beautiful and I cannot wait to stand up on the alter with her as her bridesmaid. I have a feeling I will be crying like baby...but am so excited to see my friend as a bride. Marriage is a huge step in a person's life that changes everything. So for her to have found her partner, and us getting to celebrate that with her as she was with us on our wedding- will be very special. We love you, Ashley.
Ashley with me on my big day.

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