We will always remember Ellie for her love for others, her creativity, sensitivity, and delight in life! Ellie's light has spread far and wide... may it continue to shine in our hearts.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Letting Go

My dear sweet family and friends:

I have always been honest with you, and the time has come once again for me to meet you with the truth. I truly believe that we have reached the beginning of the end. Ellie has gotten a fever, but she has no symptoms of a virus. After checking her blood yesterday, the doctor has told us that her counts are dropping. The fever and low counts mean that her bone marrow is "compressing" and losing the ability to do its job. Ellie is dying. Yes, God can still do a miracle. And yes, there is that outside chance that the fever means that the tumors are dying instead of getting worse, but if that were true the blood counts would not be lowering (I think).

I went to bed not knowing what to write to you all, but I awoke with one clear thought in my mind. I need to ask all of you the hardest thing I have ever had to ask of you: to let go. You have prayed and loved and cried with us. You have taken Ellie into your hearts and lives, and now I would ask that you join with us as we open our hands and let go.

Ellie is still alive, and so our time to mourn has not yet come, but our time to release her has. Ellie is not now, nor has she ever been - ours. God brought that tiny little bundle of joy into our lives nine years ago, and by His grace we have done our best to protect and care for her. I can honestly come before you now and say that we have not done a perfect job - we have made our fair share of mistakes along the way. But we have given it all that we have, and we have no regrets. I told you some time ago that making the "right" decision does not always mean that it has the outcome that we want. At this very moment, I have a clean conscience before God that we have done right by Ellie. We have honored her wishes while fighting for her life with all that we had. We will not look back. We have trusted God to lead us and guide us, and we believe that His guidance was true.

So how are we really? We are neither brave nor strong. Frankly, most of the time we are a mess. We are sad and overwhelmed and scared. But I have to say that as of yesterday, my heart feels such peace. That doesn't lift the sadness, but the peace is strong and steadfast. John, right now, would rather go sky-diving without a parachute. We have taken turns crying. I found him the other day working on the house and fell apart in his arms, and yesterday he called me from work crying. This morning he called from work and said that he's ok as long as he doesn't try to think about life without Ellie. Yesterday Ethan was a love. He has been happy and sweet, as long as I am close by. He takes every opportunity to snuggle with me and kiss me. And Ellie is the most amazing of all! She can feel quite a bit of pain at times, but Motrin takes most of it away. She is not wanting to eat very much, but has to get some down so the drugs aren't hard on her stomach. That has been a very tricky dance. Ellie has been unbelievably sweet. Smiling and hugging us constantly. Last night she drew the most beautiful pictures for us, and she signed and dated them. She appears to be completely unaware of what is really happening. What is in her heart of hearts, I don't know, but as always, I follow her lead and answer the questions she wants to know. For now she does not ask if she is "going away". She has actually been making plans for the future - things to do and people to see. I have thought about how wonderful it would be for Ellie to plan on having a fun day the next day, and then wake up in Heaven. I don't know if that's how it will play out. If she senses what is coming, I will certainly talk with her and cry with her, but I am trusting God for Ellie's death to be perfect... for her. I do pray that God will allow Ellie to have her wish to die in her sleep. Somehow I think that He will, but I trust Him to know best.

I will leave you to soak all of this in for now. I am sorry. Thank you for choosing to be on this journey with us. Your love and support have made all of the difference.

“The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”


At 10:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We love you guys. Thanks so much for sharing your heart again with us. We love you and pray so much for you and will continue in these days ahead as you trust the Lord for each moment. The Kurz Family

At 11:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

allowing her to go is the most loving thing we can do for her right now.

you're in my thoughts. i pray for quiet and peace for all of you.

At 11:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

God be with you at this painful time. We are praying for you... Praise God HE is strong. Sending you love.


At 11:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Jesus,

May your grace fall like rain on this precious family right now. May your well of mercy fill them up to overflowing. May you grant Ellie her heart's desire to wake up from a peaceful sleep in YOUR arms. Hold this family close to your side and give them a peace in their hearts that truly passes ALL understanding. May they be comforted in knowing that they have run the race set before them in a way that honors YOU and honors their children. For their friends and loved ones, grant them the peace in their hearts too, as they taste the salt in Ellie's family's tears and hurt for them. Fill us now, with your presence and your power and fill us with your hope.

Hear our prayers, Lord.


At 11:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love you guys! You spoke it so well. We know you have made the right decisions for your family and for Ellie. Praying for each one of you. All our love, Vickie

At 12:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To go to sleep in your bed and wake up in the arms of Jesus -- praying for you all. Mollie

At 12:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We love you, Skees family. We serve a mighty and awesome God - may He continue to carry you through.

At 12:55 PM, Blogger HopiQ said...

We've been keeping up with your journey and praying and crying along the way. We continue to bring you before the throne, knowing that the Lord is indeed strong.

At 1:36 PM, Blogger Becky K. said...

You continue to have my prayers. Thank you for sharing so candidly.
My heart is broken for you.
May the Peace of God that passes all understanding be in your home and with Ellie now.
Becky K.

At 1:38 PM, Anonymous dana c said...

Crying with and praying for you all!

~ dana c

At 2:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

May the peace of the Lord be with you all...Amen

At 2:21 PM, Blogger Tammi said...

Thank you so much for sharing your heart with us. I know your blog is primarily to update your family and friends but I'm sure there are many of us, like me, who stumbled upon it or were led to your blog to share in your journey and lift you all in prayer.

I'm so sorry you are facing this difficult time with Ellie. I will pray for peace and comfort for her and peace that passes understanding for Mom, Dad, and Ethan.

At 3:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sarah -
I pray for you all continually. Thank you for letting us in. God is faithful and HE will finish the work HE has begun...and HE will do it perfectly. I can't imagine walking in your shoes - I hope you feel all of us beside you each day. You are loved.

At 3:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We love you so much and are prayers, tears, and love are with you! We are praying for peace and strength. love heather and nick

At 3:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have been on my mind all evening since first reading your post. I am about to go to bed and you will be the last prayer on my mind before I sleep. God be with you dear Skees family. We have never met but I have been reading along your journey over the last year. It is comforting to know God loves little Ellie more than we ever could... He loves you all too. No better place to be than in His arms safe & sound.

At 4:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No words can express what we are feeling for you at this time. Jesus knows, though, and He knows exactly what you need. He will carry you through moment by moment. We are praying for you daily.

Beth Anne

At 5:49 PM, Blogger LindaSueBuhl said...

Is there anything to please Ellie that we can do? Perhaps mail to a po box or family/third party who'll send it on to you?(protecting your privacy is important and understandable - especially since so many of us are strangers to you). we pray for you each and as a family. Your writing has been a blessing - we love Ellie as if we knew her. God loves her and gave her the right family for her time here -

At 6:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know what to say except that the Lord knew who to entrust HIS precious little girl to here on earth. Praying like never before...Les

At 7:30 PM, Blogger Jeffrey said...

Just tonight Jillie was asking for something that has sugar in it. I told her no because she might get cancer again. She said "So?" And I explained that I didn't enjoy it when she is sick and in and out of the hospital. Did she? She nodded. Typical kid that enjoys having all the attention. Then I said "But if you get cancer again you might die." No response and then one of my big kids said "But she'd get to live with Jesus!" and Jillie got a big smile on her face.

If only I could be as innocent and trusting as a child when considering what path our journey may take. Enjoy your Ellie while she is here. We all are living on borrowed time whether we have cancer or not, I am finding.


At 8:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Sweet Skees Family,
We are praying that the God of PEACE throws His everlasting arms around you and take you through this time.

You have taught me so many things as I have read my way through your journey of strength and trust in the Soverign Lord.

My whole family has fallen in love with you all and have prayed for you... and here is our promise NOT to STOP!

In a time when words don't come easily... scripture comes to mind...

Psalm 91:2
I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and fortress, My God in Him will I trust.

Praying for you!!
Penny-Sue Laterza

At 8:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Psalm 28:6,7

Blessed be the Lord, because he hath heard the voice is my supplications.

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise Him.

Praying for His peace.

At 10:38 PM, Blogger Sheila said...

This is so hard! I will be lifting you, your whole family, and especially Ellie, before the throne of God. "

Philippians 4:7

[May] the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,... guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

In Christ Alone,

At 11:36 PM, Blogger c.g. said...

Safe in the arms of Jesus, safe on His gentle breast,
There by His love o’ershaded, sweetly my soul shall rest.
Hark! ’tis the voice of angels, borne in a song to me.
Over the fields of glory, over the jasper sea.

Safe in the arms of Jesus, safe on His gentle breast
There by His love o’ershaded, sweetly my soul shall rest.

Safe in the arms of Jesus, safe from corroding care,
Safe from the world’s temptations, sin cannot harm me there.
Free from the blight of sorrow, free from my doubts and fears;
Only a few more trials, only a few more tears!

Jesus, my heart’s dear Refuge, Jesus has died for me;
Firm on the Rock of Ages, ever my trust shall be.
Here let me wait with patience, wait till the night is over;
Wait till I see the morning break on the golden shore.

Safe in the arms of Jesus, safe on His gentle breast
There by His love o’ershaded, sweetly my soul shall rest.

"...He shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom..." Isaiah 40:11

our love and prayers always.

At 3:54 AM, Blogger Oregon Criss's said...

All our love and hope and prayers! Our hearts are heavy for you, but full of understanding! Have you thought of a cast moulding of her hands for you for always? ohhh...much much love and prayers and may your days together continue to be full of peace!
'In the end, its not the years in the life that count, but the life in the years'- (abraham lincoln)!
~debi for the oregon criss's~

At 5:32 AM, Blogger Mrs. Rabe said...

I can only imagine what you are going through.

Please know that we are praying and believe that you are doing it the right way, knowing that this life is not all we have.

God's bountiful Grace on your whole family!

Tim and Deanna

At 6:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I haven't read up on things in awhile. As I read your latest posting, tears filled my eyes. It must be really difficult to accept that your kids are not your own... you can think it in your head, but I imagine that the heart is another matter (because that is what I feel about my own kids!). I am encouraged by your faith and your trust in the Father...and I am so thankful that you are filled with peace. May that peace carry you through these precious moments together with Ellie...

Praying for you all,

At 7:07 AM, Blogger TheSumralls said...

We love and admire your precious family. We will pray in agreement with you on your desires for whatever length of time God has planned for Ellie's life. Our little John loves and adores ellie and Ethan. He asks about them often and misses them.

Rick, for the Sumralls

At 7:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

we love you and our praying for you always. we pray for Gods strength and grace for all of you as he is revealing his plan for Ellie and all of you.our hearts are with you and we will continue to lift you up.love the simons family.
"God Is Love"

At 7:54 AM, Blogger Conni B said...

Prayers for you all during this tough, tough time in your life. Waking in the arms of Jesus, how sweet! May God bring you peace and hope.

C Brantley

At 8:13 AM, Blogger aliann said...

Loving you and praying for you.
Trent and Allison

At 8:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sarah and family, I don't know quite what to say. I haven't commented in a while, but check the blog everyday. I'm so sorry for your pain but I'm just blown away by your faith. You have been a blessing to us that have been reading your story. I don't know that you will ever fully understand the impact you have had on us. Much love to Ellie and your entire family. You all stay in my prayers. Love, Beth Horn and family

At 8:33 AM, Anonymous Shelby Ebert said...

All of my love and prayers are with your family. The blanket should arrive by end of day tomorrow according to UPS. May it give her warmth and bring a smile to her face.

At 8:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for opening your hearts to us. If the Lord calls Ellie Home, with Him and with your dad, your hearts will be so attuned to Heaven! "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." That is a gift, even though the separation hurts so much.

Alice in FL

At 10:48 AM, Blogger Kerry said...

Sarah, this isn't the time or place to tell you all of the ways the Lord has brought your family into my life over the last ten years or so. But, I met your mother a little over 5 years ago when she spoke at my school. She and I emailed for a long time after that...I remember praying for you when you were pregnant with Ethan. The short story is that through those emails your mom discipled me through some deep, deep hurt and loss. And, really, your family's story of Panama changed my life. I can't talk about why I'm moving to Ecuador next summer without going back to the day your mom shared her story.

One of my coworkers here in Atlanta is a friend of your inlaws so I've heard about Ellie since she was first diagnosed. But, only just recently found out that she is the grand-daughter of one of my heroes. God is pretty amazing in the way He brings things about.

I am praying for you and your family...for your sweet girl and your so special mom.

At 10:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ellie's life has not been in vain. Far from it. She has been used of God to bring many, many of us quietly before Himself, to learn of a Father that loves us when we don't understand. Her greatest impact will probably be on her family, in whom we have observed God...the grace of God in deep weakness, the comfort of God in inexplicable suffering, the love of God that has cast out fear.
I am praying that what you all learn of our Father will be shared often in years to come, especially with others who suffer...thus multiplying the impact and fruit of Ellie's life time and time again. Ellie, God often entrusts great difficulty to those who keep their eyes on Him...and you have done well. You and your family have drawn me to our Father, deeply...and I thank you.

At 11:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our Love and prayers are with you all as you pass through this season! May God give you the grace and strength you need for each day!

Theresa Gustafson

At 12:27 PM, Anonymous Suzanne said...

We continue to pray for you all, for strength and peace.

At 1:32 PM, Anonymous themclauchlins said...

We love you all! As family, and also as parents, our hearts are breaking for you.
May HIS grace and peace be with you, and the whole household, while traveling this journey with Ellie.
If you need anything, just say the word.
You all are in our thoughts and prayers.
All our love,
Angela, Derrick & the boys

At 1:39 PM, Anonymous Jennifer Wiser said...

I've posted in the past and have no words to express the sadness I felt when reading your post yesterday. I've had to let go of a dear child before and although the pain is intense and immense, God is able to give that peace that passeth understanding and make the unbearable somehow bearable. He gives peace in the storm, strength in the weakness, and love to the broken hearted. May God bless you as you continue to seek His face for wisdom and knowledge and peace. The song that comes to mind for you today is this:

"I was sure by now, that You would have reached down, and wiped our tears away, stepped in and saved the day, but once again, I say Amen, and it's still raining. As the thunder rolls, I gently hear you whisper through the rain, I'm with you, and as Your mercy falls, I raise my hands and praise the God who gives and takes away. I'll praise You in this Storm, and I will lift my hands, for You are who You are, no matter where I am. Every tear I've cried, You hold in your hand, You've never left my side, and though my heart is torn, I will praise You in this storm."

Earnestly praying in Michigan,
Jennifer Wiser and family

At 2:07 PM, Blogger oneofhisfriends said...

Hi Skees,

Your posting reminds me of something Paul wished for the Ephesians:

... Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.
For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,
That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;
That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

Ephesians 3:13-21


At 3:07 PM, Blogger Leni said...

We will be continuing in prayer here.

At 3:28 PM, Blogger Mrs said...

You continue to glorify God through this. Thank you so much for stopping even one moment to share your heart. We will pray continually.


At 4:31 PM, Blogger Kat said...

I have no words that are adequate right now. But you are in my prayers for sure. Keep holding on to Jesus.
Love, Kathy

At 5:07 PM, Blogger Jenn said...

Sarah and Family- You don't know us but your stories and hero like love have touched our lives. We lost a dear little boy as old as our oldest years ago and the heart has a way of protecting us. Cry as much as you want. Feel heartsick for a little while. God WILL swoop down and dry your eyes and fill your heart with joy once again. Ellie will be waiting for you but for only a moment in God's timing.
Love, The Johnson Family
(Best Friends of Greg and Missy Pflug)

At 5:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My heart is breaking for you. We will continue to pray fervently for your family. May he grant you His peace through this trial.

The Brown family

At 6:26 PM, Anonymous macphil said...

Your blog often blessed me as I fought my own battle with cancer. Ellie is one of my heroes. No matter how badly I was feeling, or how bad things looked, I could always think and pray for Ellie. Until I get there, I will never understand why an old coot like me is surviving, and Ellie may be moving on. I'll continue praying for a miracle, but I'm fully aware that the alternative is a glorious eternity with Jesus.
Your brother in Christ,
Phil Robertson

At 7:15 PM, Anonymous shana said...

God has a plan for everyone. Only He knows how our lives are going to turn out. Some people are just a little more special and get to go home with Him sooner. You all seem so strong. I admire your courage so much. You're in my thoughts and prayers.

At 7:16 PM, Blogger pk said...

Amen and Amen. love, hugs, and continued prayers for you and yours, tk and pk

At 7:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I, like so many others, have not met you personally, but have been tremendously impacted by your family and your story and struggles. I commend you for your openness honesty through this time.

I am so sorry you all have to go through this. But I am so thankful you know that God is your strength, your supply, your wisdom...

You are in my prayers daily. As a mother myself, my heart goes out to you. You are a remarkable women of faith, and an amazing testimony! Thank you!

Deann B. - friend of the Corley's

At 8:46 PM, Anonymous renee said...

loving, crying, praying and letting...
the nix family

At 8:56 PM, Anonymous Dan & Marlys Orluck said...

"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints. Psalm 116: 15
We are crying with you and praying for you. Your writings have given us the feeling of being there.
We pray that if it has to be that the Lord will grant her wish to go home in her sleep.

At 10:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sarah, (sorry for submitting this again i think i did it wrong the first time)

I was lucky enough to have met Ellie once in my life. I just want to share with you that she has truly changed my life forever. Ellie is such an inspiration; I consider her one of my heroes. She is the most wonderful and special little girl I have met; her bubbly, articulate, happy nature despite everything is incredible and contagious. I am a better person because of Ellie. Her beauty seems to radiate inside and out.

Your entire family is beautiful as well, and courageous, strong, and full of wisdom. Although none of us can imagine what you all go through everyday, I hope you know how much I will admire you always. You handle
everything with such grace and dignity.

I pray for Ellie's health, happiness, strength and peace always.

At 6:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Posting again... just to say we are still praying for you all...


At 8:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your blog brought me to tears! I hurt for you as you let go, but I am also praying that God will hold you close as you go down this path! We are praying specifically for each of you!

At 8:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Sarah,
(You don't need to post this- I just had to say something!)
My family and I have been following your story through connections in Florida and Pennsylvania. My girls have come to love your daughter, daily lifting her up to the Lord. Though they are young, we share details with them so they know reality and so they can understand what God can do. My oldest, Mikayla, feels that it has helped her prayer life. We have all been so involved, though we have never met. My girls remind me we will one day meet in heaven. I don't want to wait that long to thank you.
Not everyone could share their pain, joy and struggles with complete strangers- but you have done it so well.
As I can tell, you like music. I was able to hear Sara Groves speak at a MOPS Convention, and I just got her new CD. She shared in the music and in person, that God is seen in different ways by those who experience struggles. I so appreciate that you have told what you know. I feel our issues are small compared to yours, but we prepare to face some struggles in the future. I am not sure you will ever know the impact you have had on me. Praise God that you did not keep silent. No matter how the Lord resolves Ellie's healing, please know that God is using you in a mighty way.
I will pray for strength for your family. Please consider sharing all your memories and lessons in a book someday. I will be in line to buy it!
May God bless you. We are so thankful for the window you have given into your lives.
To God be the glory!

At 9:07 AM, Blogger c.g. said...

...The eternal God is my refuge, and underneath are His everlasting arms.

Sheltered In The Arms Of God

I feel the touch of hands, so kind and tender,
They're leading me, in paths, that I must trod.
I'll have, no fear, for Jesus walks, beside me
And I'm sheltered, in, the arms of God.

Soon, I shall hear, the call, from heaven's portal,
Come home, my child, this is the last mile, you must trod,
I'll fall asleep, and I'll wake, in God's, new heaven,
Sheltered safe, within the arms, of God.

our love and continuing prayers.

At 9:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a Blessing you are! God has given you that extra amount of Grace to live through this. It is a grace we can't understand unless we are in the midst. This grace will comfort and surround you when you think you can't go another step! My prayers are with you this day! Blessings, Miss Paula

Deanna Rabe SIL!

At 3:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Skees Family: Ellie's journey home is in my faithful prayers - I can't fathom the pain that you must be going thru during this time but as many others said above, there is nothing as sweet as the arms of Jesus - I pray for her to feel His sweet embrace & no pain as she makes her journey home, it puts tears to my eyes as I type & read, it saddens me that one has to say such hard good byes but I do believe you will see her again!!! Much luv & many prayers!!

At 7:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know you wont get any comfort from the fact that she is going but oh what a place she is going to. She will go from the arms of her family right to the arms of Jesus and she'll never know the hardships of this life. That is about the only thing to be thankful for in this situation. My thoughts and prayers are with you. May God comfort you.

Melissa from Indiana

At 10:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult passage. Thank you for sharing Ellie's story with us--we may be strangers on Earth, but we are all God's children. Ellie is a remarkable girl, and you are a wonderful mother.

At 10:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Good people pass away; the godly often die before their time.
But no one seems to care or wonder why.
No one seems to understand that God is protecting them from the evil to come.
For those who follow godly paths will rest in peace when they die." Isaiah 57:1-2 NLT

At 10:14 PM, Blogger Brian Hollar said...

My thoughts and prayers are with all of you. I am so sorry for what Ellie and all of you are going through. You have my deepest sympathies and strongest prayers.

At 7:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My hear goes out to your family, I dont personally know you but have heard such great things about your daughter, god bless u and know u are loved.


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