Asher Lesyshen-Kirlan, 9, of Stagecoach, died Wednesday. Community members are asked to share photos of Asher doing the activities he loved. Photos sent to share@SteamboatToday.com will be added to this gallery.
Rob Douglas' column appears Fridays in the Steamboat Today. He can be reached at rdouglas@SteamboatToday.com.
“Asher was a 9-year-old boy who loved doing all the things Steamboat kids love to do.”
— John Cardillo, father of Oliver Cardillo, Asher’s friend
“He was always a little spark plug.”
— Bill Montag, Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club Alpine coach
“If he was still alive, you would be his friend. He’s a very good person. And he is very awesome and funny, and a lot of people do really like him.”
— Carson Hooker, age 9
Of all the tragedies in life that are incomprehensible, the death of a child is the most difficult to fathom. That assault on our desire to live in a world shaped by natural order is compounded when a child dies in the violent manner that Asher Lesyshen-Kirlan did this week here in the Yampa Valley.
As Routt County Sheriff Garrett Wiggins succinctly put it, “This little guy had it all going for him, and now it’s over.”
One look at photographs of Asher and you quickly realize he did indeed have it all going for him. Not only did Asher love doing the things Steamboat kids do, he excelled at them.
Among dozens of activities, those pictures show Asher:
■ Winning the skijoring contest during Winter Carnival
■ Atop Mount Yale having completed his first 14er
■ Ski jumping on Howelsen Hill
■ Showing off his flag football medal
■ Winning his division of the Town Challenge Mountain Bike Race Series
■ Playing soccer
■ Performing at a violin recital
■ Backpacking in the canyons of Utah
■ Holding a fistful of medals from the Winter Sports Club
While someday we may gain a clearer understanding of the events that led up to Asher’s death, the loss of Asher will never make sense. It shouldn’t make sense. There are certain acts of violence that are so ghastly, so depraved, that we can never accept the proffered rationale for the state of mind that resulted in the violent death of an innocent child.
No matter what we learn in the days ahead, let’s remember that our community has lost a little boy who, as Carson said about his friend, loved to dance on the playground, “had a really funny way of being funny,” loved to use his imagination, and “could probably grow up to be a magician.”
Let’s also remember that the loss of Asher — and whatever future events take place because of the circumstances that resulted in that loss — may impact those who knew and loved Asher and his family in ways both profound and painful. They will need our community’s outreach and support for a long time to come.
Anyone who knows Steamboat knows that support will be there.
There is a passage in “The Angel,” a fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen about the transformation through death of a child to an angel, that reads: “Then the child opened his eyes and looked into the glorious happy face of the angel, and at the same moment they found themselves in that heavenly home where all is happiness and joy.”
That heavenly home has one more angel.
An awesome, funny, little spark plug of an angel named Asher.