How we all loved to watch you as you brilliantly portrayed the character of Lee Haines in Isidingo. How we thrilled to see the beautiful Lee go head to head with her corrupt and manipulative father, Barker. How delighted we were when she did battle with her evil step-mother, Cherelle and won.
But that is all over now and never again will Lee grace our television screens with her beauty and elegance.
On Saturday, 9 February, the news of your terrible accident the previous night, filtered through to your shocked fans. As you lay in hospital in a coma, the people of South Africa began to pray in earnest. All ages, cultures and races joined hands and prayed for your speedy recovery. A website was set up where messages of goodwill were posted for you to read when you woke up.
For you would wake up. We all believed that.
Sadly, it was not to be and on the 15 February 2008, God called you home.
We were all utterly bereft. How could this be?
Your website was flooded with messages of condolence to your family and friends as your fans sought to find an outlet for their pain and grief.
On 29 February, exactly two weeks after you passed away, you won the Stars of Mzansi Best Actress Award.
It was difficult to recognize your tough and irascible screen father as he accepted the award on your behalf. His voice shaking with emotion, he battled to contain his tears as he paid tribute to a truly talented actress and a remarkable person. Perhaps the highest honour that he could bestow upon you were his words: I do not have a daughter in real life, but if I did, she is the one I would have chosen.
Your co-star and real life friend, Steven Miyambo who plays the part of Orlando, caused silent tears to stream down the faces of all who were watching as he said his final farewell, Rest in peace, Miss Lee.
Yet even as we mourn for the life that you lost, so we rejoice in the life that you lived.
Even as we weep for the gaping void that you have left behind, the joy of knowing you rings out like a thousand bells in Heaven.
Even as your bright and shining star fades on Earth, it shines ever brightly in the night sky.
Even as darkness falls, the light still reigns.
Even though you died, yet you still live.
Even in the midst of this terrible tragedy, God is still God.
For one shining moment in the vast passage of time, all of South Africa forgot their differences and stood united to honour the memory of Ashley Callie.
It is fitting that a beautiful coral-coloured rose was dedicated to you, for you truly were the rose of Africa. The Ashley Callie Rose will forever serve to remind us of you.
Goodbye, sweet Rose of Africa.
In Memory of Ashley Callie. 19 May 1973 15 February 2008.
In our hearts forever.
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