Published in the March 7, 2016 edition.

ObitFletcher-webWAKEFIELD — Åshley Marie Fletcher, 23, of Wakefield, formerly of East Hampstead, N.H., died on Thursday, March 3, 2016, at Tuffs Medical Center in Boston following a gunshot wound to the head, which was the result of years of depression and heroin addiction.

Born in Malden on Nov. 4, 1992, she was the daughter of Alicia (Janiak) LaCava and James Fletcher Jr. She was raised and attended school in Wakefield and worked most recently at Dunkin’ Donuts and Five Guys Burgers and Fries in Stoneham.

Ashley was a beautiful girl, with a big heart. She had a soft side and a wild side. Some days she was caring and compassionate. Some days she had a “screw you” attitude. But every day, she was totally loved by all who knew her.

On her best days, when the depression or addiction didn’t have a hold on her, she easily expressed her love to her mother and for her little cousin Liam Janiak and to her many family members and friends. On her bad days, when the drugs controlled her, she did and said things she would later regret. Those regrets drove her to try and be a better person and to try and stay clean. She always wanted to help people and possibly work in the health care field. She loved children and the elderly and wanted to make the world better for them. Kids and older folks gravitated toward her, maybe drawn in by her nurturing ways. As much as she wanted to help others, she was never able to fully help herself.

She was funny and inquisitive. If something was closed, she opened it to see what was inside. If there was a switch, she flipped it to see what would happen. If there was a blank belly button, she would pierce it! If there was a fork in the road, she would drive down the road she hadn’t taken before – and she drove poorly, because she was a horrible driver! – just for the adventure of something new! She wanted to experience everything life had to offer. In her short 23 years, she did and experienced more than some twice her age. And she was the “Queen of Selfies!”  She loved snapping and posting selfies, sometimes several a day in various outfits and most with her famous “pouty lip” pose. She was very photogenic!

She was worldly, yet naive at the same time. She was quick to smile and always made everyone laugh. She had many, many friends and a family that adored her. She was beautiful inside and out but couldn’t see her own beauty or see the promise of a bright future that others envisioned for her.

She was a romantic at heart and believed in everlasting love. She loved watching romantic movies and would often have “girly nights” with her mom to watch favorite movies such as A Walk to Remember or the Divergent series. She loved music, especially rap and hip-hop. She was last heard singing “No Diggity,” by Blackstreet.

Her belief in everlasting love and her desire to find true happiness, are what took her from us at such an early age. She took her own life to find the ‘happily ever after’ that she continually sought here on earth, but that eluded her all these years.

Though Ashley’s life ended much too soon, she is a true hero in every sense of the word, because she was an organ donor. It wasn’t just a symbol on her driver’s license. Being an organ donor was important to her and she was committed to helping others, right to the very end. She made the ultimate sacrifice and gave the gift of her organs to strangers. Ashley was once a bright-eyed little girl with big dreams. Through her donation of her organs, Ashley will help to make the big dreams and bright futures of three individuals come true. And that would make Ashley very, very happy at last.

Ashley leaves behind her mother, Alicia (Janiak) LaCava of East Hampstead, N.H., her father James Fletcher Jr. of Wakefield; her brother James Fletcher; her grandparents Jane Rector of Atkinson, N.H., Richard Brown of Wakefield, James Fletcher Sr. of Florida, the late Denise Goddette and the late Terry Janiak. She also leaves her uncles Jesse Janiak and Justin Kelly of Atkinson, N.H.; Richard Brown serving in the U.S. Air Force, Nakia Brown of Wakefield and Dennis Fletcher; her aunts Diane Leonard of Derry, N.H. and Paula Oxner, of Danville, N.H. In addition, she leaves her beloved cousin Liam Janiak of Atkinson, N.H., as well as many dear friends.

A visitation for relatives and friends will be held at the McDonald Funeral Home, 19 Yale Ave., Wakefield on Wednesday from 4 to 8 p.m. A Memorial Service will take place at the funeral home on Thursday at 11 a.m. A private funeral service will take place at a later date.