Autumn Leigh Pasquale (and Paco)
10/29/1999 – 10/20/2012
We didn’t spend a lot of time together, you and I.
But your mother and I are best buds. I still remember the day I found her on classmates.com – it had been years since we’d spoken, ever since she moved to New Jersey in high school. From the very first time she and I spoke after that long break, I could tell how proud she was of her children. Of all the things that she’s done, bringing you and AJ and Natalie into this world are the three proudest moments of her life. She loves the three of you and everyone else in her life like only a mother can.
She’s being strong now, Autumn. So strong that nobody can see the cracks. She’s being strong for you, because Mom doesn’t really know any other way to be. She’s the one who always takes care of everyone else, because that’s just who she is. And now, people are taking care of her. Because of you. Because of all of the hearts you touched in your incredibly-too-short life.
You tested Mom. Tested her patience, tested her resolve and will, tested her love. And you passed, each and every time.
You’d be proud to see how AJ acted like a man at your prayer vigil. How he stayed together, even with hundreds and hundreds of people expressing their sorrow to him. And Natalie – she looked so grown up, yet so vulnerable. Crying for you with all of her friends there to give support in her time of need. All of the people from Clayton and hundreds more from all over the area were there for you. The police officers, the searchers, everyone was there, to pray for you, Autumn. To grieve and share stories about you and how you had touched everyone in your own special way.
You’d be overwhelmed at how many people from your community came together to look for you when they knew you were missing. And blown away at how your story touched so many hearts and lives across this country. Thousands of people sharing your photo and information, asking for help to try to find you. My friends are grieving for you even though they’ve never met you. People all across the country, and the world, are thinking about you.
Your community came together for your Mom and Dad and the rest of your family. They were out searching by the hundreds in all of the areas you used to go. People who would drive by each other and give a wave suddenly were shoulder-to-shoulder as they looked for you or any sign of you. No sleep, no food, no rest – just Autumn, and where you were. I am sorry I could not be here to help look for you, but I am thankful for all of the people who could.
You and I have more in common than you might think, Autumn, despite the large difference in our ages.
There was a time when my BMX bike was everything to me – I spent hundreds of hours just practicing tricks, riding around with my friends, being a kid. And I had a bike stolen from me, not long after Mom and Dad gave me a great new set of wheels for it for my birthday. I knew who did it too, but I could never prove it because I didn’t see him do it. I know you put up a hell of a fight when those two scumbags tried to take what was yours. Perhaps it’s Mom’s greatest achievement – teaching you to stand up for what is right and true. And you did so, admirably. So…I get it. I know why you tried to protect what was yours – because it was everything to you.
And you’re everything to us. So many of us are hurting right now, knowing that you are not here anymore to grace us with your smile and laughter.
But you will never, ever be forgotten. I promise you that.
My heart hurts for you today, tomorrow, and forever, sweet girl. Rest in peace, Autumn.
Information regarding Autumn’s memorial services can be found here.
Those who wish to make donations in Autumn’s memory can do so by mail or bringing donations to the following bank -
Autumn Pasquale Memorial Fund
C/O Fulton Bank of New Jersey
35 N Delsea Dr
Clayton, NJ 08312
THIS IS THE ONLY AUTHORIZED MEMORIAL FUND.