Happy Birthday Ellie!
Ten years ago, I was in labor. I was miserable, but it was worth it because I was about to hold the most amazing little girl that I have ever met. I thought that labor would be the most painful thing I would ever have to endure. I was so wrong. But I also underestimated the joy factor! I think that we packed in an entire lifetime's worth of love and joy into nine short years.
This is Ellie's first birthday in Heaven, and while it is bittersweet for us, I know that it is full of the kind of endless joy that bubbles over into the very depths of her soul. I just know that soul birthdays have to be so much better than physical birthdays!
We are going into our third day of non-stop celebrating! (I don't know if anyone has noticed yet, but we don't tend to do things half way.)
Ellie's stone marker was ready on Thursday! This came about in a wonderful way on so many levels. Our families contributed money to buy us a better memorial to Ellie than we could ever imagine! The man at the masonry place gave us a huge stone. The people at a quarry gave us a number of smaller stones. And the guys at the sandblasting place bent over backwards to make sure that it was all done on time. The end result is astounding. We had Ellie's family come up with words to describe her, and those words were sandblasted into the stone. The smaller stone near the bottom of the marker has Ellie's name sandblasted into it. And at the very bottom, do you see the small rock with "Pippin"? Pippin was Loretta's cat - Ellie's favorite - who is buried in the hole with half of Ellie's ashes. There is a very large stone on top of that grave, and the memorial stone is propped up against that rock. Belinda got a wonderful picture just after sunrise:
These are the words on the stone:
This reference was sandblasted into the right side of the stone: Psalm 63: 1, 7-8 (It is the reference for the verses from the origional blog header.) John wanted to make sure that someday when we are gone and someone looks at the stone, they will be able to see that Ellie belonged to God!
And the copper colored plaque in the middle says "Elizabeth Anne Skees September 29, 1998 to December 19, 2007" We plan to get a more permanent metal one that will have that on it along with "Our little Angel has left a lasting impression on our hearts."
The family made a beautiful flier with Ellie's picture and Scripture verses. They also wrote up an amazing description of Ellie, using all of the words that are on the stone, and then some! I'm sorry that these photos do not do it justice, but I wanted you to have a glimpse of the wonderful tribute...
Cover - they decided to use today's date instead of her birth year or date of death. This is all about our celebration of Ellie - today. I love that.
Inside. The verse above the picture is: "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jer. 29:11
The opposite page from the above picture says:
We remember our Ellie with joy and sadness...
She was a sweet, fun loving, tenderhearted, wise warrior. She had the ability to bring light and grace and joy with each playful hug or word. She enchanted us with her graceful dance and her ingenious imagination. Ellie was as adventurous as she was loving and her love and compassion flowed out toward all "critters". She devoured life in her vibrant and spirited ways. Innocence and exuberance dominated our little princess's being. Ellie was as a "Ninja Butterfly" - cautious and bold,
timid and tenacious - as she fought her fight and finished her race. And best of all, she was an endearing and devoted daughter, sister, granddaughter, niece, cousin and friend. We think of her and the hope that our Father promises with each rainbow that we see. Ellie was generous and peace-loving. Our precious and pretty little angel continues to give to us and leaves a deepening impression on our lives.
"Oh how great are God's riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways! For who can know the Lord's thoughts? Who knows enough to give him advice? And who has given him so much that needs to pay it back? For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen."
Back Cover. The verse says: "You will surely forget your trouble, recalling it only as waters gone by." Job 11:16
On Saturday, we had a big family Barbecue. We were able to enjoy each other's company and visit the grave site. We had a little fire going for people to sit around. It was just a glorious evening! This is Kathy's picture of the beautiful backdrop of our party:
And this was the family - Reni always has her camera ready to document an event! (To all of our family who were not here, we missed you so much and we have fliers and pictures for you! Thank you for loving us and finding ways to make this day so special for us.)
Yesterday was just a day to hang out around the house. I have been trying to put together a quilt from Ellie's clothes, so I pulled out all of the squares and some of us sat around sewing them together. In the evening we had birthday cake for Ellie. Ethan was so cute. We were all sitting around eating cake and Ethan leaned over and said to me with a sweet smile, "Happy Birthday to Ellie." He then called out names in the room to get their attention and said it again.
Kathy brought temporary tattoos of fairies and butterflies as well as pirate ones for the guys. We had some fun putting those on in Ellie's honor! All of us, but Ethan. He was not pleased that I had them stuck to my shoulder. Kathy also brought lots and lots of glow sticks. Last year, for Ellie's birthday, we had a bunch of glow sticks. We pushed the furniture to the perimeter of the room, turned out the lights, and the kids got into the center and danced and played with their glow sticks. I remember sitting there in the dark and crying because I sort of knew that it would be Ellie's last birthday. Last night, after it was dark, we all went out into the yard and played around. Before going inside, everyone began throwing their glow sticks into a tall pine tree. They stuck in the branches and made it look like a gigantic Christmas tree. Ellie would totally approve! I was doing fine until I stood back to watch the festivities. Ellie's friend Bailey was dancing around in the yard with her glow sticks, and I watched her come over to the porch and grab the stuffed animal of Ellie's that we gave her after Ellie died. She took the snow leopard in her arms and went back out in the yard with her glow sticks. I don't know what was going on in Bailey's head, but in my mind she was just trying to include Ellie somehow. It is one little memory that I will file away with the others that I treasure.
These are a couple of Kathy's pictures from the evening (it was too hard to get one of the tree that would show up well - it was one of those things that you have to see in person).
I don't know if you can see it, but Ethan is stretched up as tall as he can get, trying to hold up the bottom of the last E.
Today dawned clear and cold and beautiful. John and I left to go out for breakfast before the sun was even up. I cried a little as we sat with our coffee and remembered Ellie. We are now back at home and the gang is all preparing for a hike. John had wanted to "bag a peak" and sprinkle some of Ellie's ashes, but the peak is covered in snow. The family (including Ethan, as we let him take the day off of school) is going to go on an easier hike instead. I will not be going. I am going out with my friend, Jen. I'm not sure exactly what we will do, but I just wanted to spend the day quietly.
Thank you all for your love and prayers. They really do make such a difference in our lives!