Saturday, July 13, 2024

Williamsburg Mom Honors Late Daughter’s Memory with Poetry Book Publication

“Honoring Ashley” remembers the legacy that Jamestown High graduate Ashley Cerasole left behind. The book was published by her mom in her memory. (The Rocheleau Family)

WILLIAMSBURG — Michelle Rocheleau still finds notes and poems in photo albums and drawers around the house written by her daughter, Ashley Cerasole — a small part of her lasting impact on those around her.

“Ashley was very outgoing. She had a joy about her and she just loved people. She always saw the best in people. She would be the first to walk up to people and introduce herself. Since the time she could talk, she just started singing and that was her thing and she had such a beautiful voice,” Rocheleau said.

Cerasole moved to Williamsburg in 2005 when her family relocated from Connecticut. She graduated from Jamestown High School in 2010 and earned a Veterinary Certificate from New Horizons. She passed away in 2021 at the age of 29.

As Rocheleau worked through her grief, one thought remained a constant: publishing Ashley’s book.

“Honoring Ashley” is a mixture of poetry, song lyrics, writings, and short stories that Cerasole wrote before her passing. It was her dream to see her name on a book cover one day and Rocheleau wanted to honor that commitment.

“Ashley had a big portfolio of all of her writings. She had so many journals that were filled with her songs. She left me a whole legacy. All she would talk to me about was, ‘mom, when are you going to publish my book?'” Rocheleau remembered.

She first self-published Ashley’s book but struggled to sell copies. A chance encounter with a Virginia-based publishing company led to a new life for the book.

According to Rocheleau, Ashley’s writings are about things that all teens deal with in their lives, from love to faith in God.

“The book really talks about her perception of life and love. She also talks about creation, the glory of God, romance, it covers everything. It’s really touching, it really hits home. There are some short stories in there as well, and the art matches so well to each story being told,” Rocheleau said.

Suzanne Berthier, the book’s illustrator, is Ashley’s grandmother.

“This is the one thing my daughter wanted. She would do backflips if she thought her book was published. My hope that this book gives people a connection to Ashley and that it will inspire those who read it. I believe that this book gives people hope and it touches people differently depending upon where they are at in life,” Rocheleau said.

The book is available on Amazon for $16.95. Rocheleau plans to take the proceeds from sales and work with a music producer to share Ashley’s songs with the world.

“I really want to do something with her music. I have a lot of songs written by her, so I really want to find a way to produce her music for people to hear. Her music is very touching, it’s just totally her and who she was,” Rocheleau said.

The process of publishing Ashley’s memories has slowly helped bring Rocheleau peace.

“I have good days and I have bad days. By doing this, it’s helping me with her legacy. This meant everything to her. This book brings purpose back to her life because writing was her purpose in life. Her purpose was not lost, and I fulfilled her dream,” Rocheleau said.

“Honoring Ashley” is available for purchase on Amazon.

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