Asia’s New Wings
by Clifton & Michelle Cottom
Clifton and Michelle Cottom live in Prince George’s County, Maryland and they have one son, Isiah. The Cottoms are the co-founders and executive board members of the Asia SiVon Cottom (ASC) Memorial Scholarship Fund.
Tell me about you and your husband! How long you’ve been married, careers, anything about y’all!
Clifton and I celebrated our 25ht wedding anniversary on April 4, 2015. Clifton is a Behavioral Technician with the District of Columbia Public School (DCPS) System, where he has been employed for over 20 years. He has also coached Girls basketball with DCPS for a little more than 12 years. This is in line with his passion for young people, because he also functioned as the Youth Coach (i.e. Minister) for our local church for a number of years. Currently, he continues to mentor young men and he works closely with men dealing with grief.
I am an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Manager for a federal agency in Washington, DC. I have served as an EEO practitioner for 25 plus years. I too mentor women, young adults and served as one of the Youth Coaches in our church. Currently, Clifton and are I serving as workshop presenters and speakers to bereaved communities. Through our first- hand experiences we now serve as subject matter experts. Also, my MA in Counseling serves as the authority and foundation of our individual as well as our group coaching, mentoring and sharing sessions
Tell me about Asia and her older brother Isiah.
Asia was six years younger than her brother Isiah Batey. However, they were very close. They played, laughed and cried together. He was very protective of her and she was very protective of him. He taught her everything he knew and she in turn taught him everything she knew. As siblings they were inseparable despite their age difference. Isiah remains devastated at the loss of his sister. A void he continues to struggle with today.
When you lost Asia, how did your family function in the aftermath in the short term?
We didn’t. We just went through the motions. Waking-up and taking one day at a time. Actually, we took each minute by minute and tried to make some sense of what was really going on. We each prayed that Asia wasn’t really dead.
How did things change as time went on?
The only thing that has changed is the fact that Asia is not physically present with us in the earth helm as we know it. She remains alive and well in the hearts of all who knew and loved her. This is obvious to us as people speak fondly of her almost daily and it’s been 14 years. People share Asia stories with us all the time. We as an immediate family constantly laugh and joke about what she would or wouldn’t be doing at various times and events in our day-to day life.
How did you help Isiah cope with the loss?
Isiah really helped us. He helped Clifton get closer to God by illustrating his faith. Isiah dropped to his knees and immediately began to pray when we told him about the plane crash. That showed us as his parents tremendous strength and maturity for a 17 year old young man who had just lost his sister; his best-friend. We always talked to him about his feelings, hurt, pain, angry, and frustrations. We instilled in him that revenge and hate was not an option even though everything around us was going to war. He also had to deal with the pressure and questions that came to him from his classmates and friends. All of who, just like a lot of Americans wanted revenge.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of Asia’s New Wings from authors Clifton and Michelle Cottom in exchange for an honest review.
It was an honor to be able to read and review Asia’s New Wings. There are so many passages of this book that I have highlighted as a favorite passage that I now have an eBook filled with rainbows. I pray that Asia loved to see rainbows. As I read Asia’s New Wings I was compelled to share a number of these moments in Asia’s life with my husband as I read.
How many times in life are we tempted to say “I know just how you feel!” in offering condolences for the loss of a loved one? I can’t begin to even fathom the loss of a child due to illness or accident. How much more unfathomable is the loss of a child to the cowardice of a terrorist’s act?
Asia’s New Wings is not a story of the recovery of Clifton and Michelle Cottom, but it is the story of a life taken too early and the huge impact that Asia Cottom made during her eleven short years on this earth.
“At about 10 or 11 p.m. the news reporter announced, “It is officially confirmed that American Airlines Flight #77 has hit the Pentagon.” Then a list of the names of all the passengers scrolled onto the screen, including Asia Cottom. With sinking hearts, we knew our world was forever changed.” (Page 18).
The Cottom family was forever changed on September 11, 2001, but not in the ways one would expect. Through years of grief and personal struggles, each of them has forged their relationship with God, each other, and the world that is truly a testament to the life Asia Cottom lived.
I love the description of Asia as if she knew that her time on earth would somehow be cut short.
“My daughter, Asia, was no ordinary child. She truly lived her life in “double time,” as if she knew she wouldn’t be long here on earth. You could say she fit more into her eleven years than most people do in twenty-two!” (Page 30).
The testimony from classmates, church family, friends and family of this beautiful little girl on the brink of becoming an incredible young woman brought tears to my eyes more than once.
“Everybody wants to move forward, and I get all that. There are a lot of times I just want to keep my best friend (my sister) private. I didn’t mind the scholarship fund. I didn’t mind helping people, but there are just a lot of times I want my best friend to stay private with me. Nobody knew her like I did.’ (Page 69).
Asia’s brother, Isiah, turned his grief and memories to music which allows him to honor her memory in a way that truly comes from his heart.
“The true story is that these parents took this tragic event and they are standing and building upon it—through all of their hurt—and they do this every day.” (Page 86).
The writing in Asia’s New Wings is very intense, very emotional from all that contributed to it, and is a story that I shall keep close to my heart for many years to come.
“Asia’s story needs to become an evangelism tool where others are drawn to Christ and His healing power.” (Page 87).
I highly recommend Asia’s New Wings by Clifton and Michelle Cottom and humbly offer five Christ-filled cups of Room With Books coffee.
Asia Cottom lived eleven short years on this earth. Her tragic death on Flight #77 on 9/11 is forever etched in the hearts of the countless people who loved her. But her wise and influential life, her positive attitude, and profound faith in God are her true legacy.
You may love God with all your heart and soul, yet not understand what He is doing. In Asia’s New Wings, Clifton and Dr. Michelle Cottom, along with family and friends, walk beside you, sharing their thoughts and offering compassion to help you come to a place of acceptance, when trying to make sense of suffering great loss. The people in this book have learned to come to terms with what God allows, and are now in a place where they can help heal others. If you have gone—or are going through—the “valley of despair,” you will find comfort and empathy from those who care. You will also find hope and the strength to move forward as you rediscover your life.
What Asia’s parents and all those who loved her went through, healed from, and learned will bring comfort and relief to those who travel down the road of loss. Reading and experiencing Asia’s story will truly bring healing and life to all who turn these pages.
Win 1 of 15 print copies of Asia’s New Wings (open to both USA & Canada)