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.

Monday, September 29, 2008

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:

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These are the words on the stone:
Tenderhearted
Playful
Endearing
Loving
Critters
Innocent
Graceful
Pretty
Grace
Giving
Imaginative
Precious
Fun
Princess
Sweet
Light
Devoted
Wise
Rainbow
Spirited
Warrior
Enchanting
Exuberant
"Johnny"
Vibrant
Harmonious
"Ninja Butterfly"
Dancer
Friend

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.

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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

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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."
Romans 11:33-36

Back Cover. The verse says: "You will surely forget your trouble, recalling it only as waters gone by." Job 11:16

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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:

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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.)

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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.

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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).

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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.
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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!

24 Comments:

At 10:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are a blessed mom to have such family and friends. I wish I could've met your dear daughter - but still I hold to a hope that one day I will!
From one parent to another - you are a dear woman, thanks for sharing your family with us all. -Michael
The Stark Family, Blairstown, NJ

 
At 10:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thinking of you today friend. Love you!! Vickie

 
At 10:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So beautiful!! I love the stones and I love the fun you had on such a painful day. the glowsticks are great! thanks for sharing with us.

 
At 10:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing the great pictures with us along with all that you are doing to celebrate Ellie. We continue to check your blog as we love to read it to keep up with you. :) The pictures make us want to go west!
We love you all, The Kurz gang

 
At 11:08 AM, Blogger Tonya said...

Sarah,

I was just directed to your blog from a comment on mine. (They thought we'd have a lot in common)

We lost our son Brent at the age of 11 to Neuroblastoma. I noticed in one of your posts that you talked about the children's cancer act that was passed, and of course NB. Is that what took your daughter's life? (Oh, I'm HAPPY to say that we're Christians too - Brent DEFINITELY KNEW his JESUS and was READY to go HOME!)

On another note.. We join you in wishing Ellie a VERY HAPPY HEAVENLY birthday! (Brent's is next month.. October 28) I know all too well that all of these dates are bittersweet. I'm here if you need or want to talk. =-)

Much love & big hugs to you, my new friend!

Tonya

 
At 1:31 PM, Anonymous themclauchlins said...

Happy Heavenly Birthday, Ellie~
Sarah, we are thinking of you, John and Ethan today, and praying for you. Also, hoping the family hike goes without incident! :D
It was wonderful to see everyone at the bbq.
Much Love,
Angela

 
At 1:48 PM, Blogger Elijah's Mommy said...

Happy Heavenly Birthday Sweet Ellie.

 
At 4:52 PM, Blogger Darlene said...

John & Sarah,
I LOVE the Memory Marker! It is so perfect and appropriate for Ellie. Thank you also for the mental picture of Ellie celebrating her birthday in Heaven. Precious.
Love & Prayer,
Mark & Dar

 
At 5:02 PM, Blogger Kate said...

A beautiful celebration of a beautiful life!! Happy Birthday sweet Ellie!!! :)

 
At 5:46 PM, Blogger LindaSueBuhl said...

I read this earlier today - was so overwhelmed with emotions I didn't want to respond then. Now I say - y'all do things right - from the little I know of Ellie she would have loved the whole day -especially having so many people who love her in one place. Some sweet day - we'll all be with her in one place and I'll get to hug that sweet girl for myself! Even better - I'll get to hug you too Sarah - hope your time today was perfectly what you needed and wanted. Oh one of the goats Ellie named for me is probably going to have a baby in late January or maybe Feb - if it is a male it'll be named Duma and if it is a female - well I figure that out when it comes. Just thought you'd like to know.

 
At 7:25 PM, Blogger Tonya said...

Sarah,

No worries with the blog! Gracious, you've had enough on your mind as to have to worry about what to put where. =-) I'm just glad to have found you too! (I've added you to my list of friends on my sidebar - if that's what you call it??)

My personal email address is nason5@aol.com - feel free to email me anytime as well.

Take care,
Love,
Tonya

 
At 7:56 PM, Anonymous Lauren said...

Thanks for the recap, Sarah. Ellie wouldn't have her birthday be celebrated any other way! I'm glad the stone came out so well. Much prettier than I expected. I can't wait to visit it in person.

Missing and loving you in CT!

*steals family photo* :)

 
At 8:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Sarah, I have been thinking of you off and on today. I am happy to read that you were surrounded by family and friends for the last few days and you had some wonderful moments of celebration and some moments alone.
What a wonderful headstone and it is nice that it is close so you can see it so easily. Love you, Sheri

 
At 9:20 PM, Anonymous Jen Johnson said...

Sarah~What can I say.....the last three days have been so incredible! There are so many Skees that 4 four more really just blend in! Thanks for breaking us in "your style"! I am anxious to see the quilt finished knowing all the hands that worked on it. (I think to be nice we should give Belinda half credit....who uses a sewing machine anyways! Hee Hee!) Lunch was sooo good today and I am so touched that you would want to spend the day with me. My soap dispenser works awesome and my Costco Jumbo dish soap is now stored in the pantry where it belongs! Anywho, thanks for being you! Love Ya!
Jen

 
At 12:33 AM, Blogger Amy said...

Happy birthday Ellie! I am so glad you could really enjoy and celebrate this day.

 
At 7:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ELLIE! I prayed for your family yesterday - my heart was heavy as I know you were missing your sweet lil girl yet I believe you are right when you say she was celebrating & having a wonderful time in Heaven!!! God bless you all during this time, you are an amazing family, continue to stay strong.
In Christ, Stac : )

 
At 7:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

WE ARE THINKING OF YOU ALL TODAY. WHAT A BEAUTIFUL WAY TO CELEBRATE AND HONOR ELLIE. I LOVE THE STONE AND THE MEMORIAL YOU SET UP THERE FOR ELLIE. WE KNOW SHE IS HAVIBG A WONDERFUL HEAVENLY BIRTHDAY. WE CONTINUE TO PRAY FOR ALL OF YOU EACH AND EVERY DAY. THANK YOU FOR SHARING YOUR LIVES WITH US. GOD BLESS. LOVE SIMONS FAMILY

 
At 8:16 AM, Blogger Mrs. Rabe said...

What a beautiful way to celebrate her life! She does live on, not only in heaven, but in each of you and in us, every time you share about here.
I love what you have done with her memorial stone. So unique and special.

Deanna

 
At 8:01 PM, Blogger Sharing His Plan said...

To Ellie's Momma,
Your family is amazing! The group picture had me in tears of JOY! God has truly given you all a huge gift of creativeness and no, you don't do thigs half way and shouldn't! You have taught me so much, it's awesome! Thank you! and thank you ELLIE!!!
Love and Blessings,
Jackie and family
missionaries in Guatemala

 
At 8:12 PM, Blogger oneofhisfriends said...

Thanks; what a great party.

Agapé

 
At 10:53 AM, Blogger Allison said...

I have been praying for you alot this week. Ellie's birthday is exactly one week before my oldest daughters birthday. So you have really been on my mind alot lately. Thanks for still sharing all your stories, I always look forward to your new posts, to see how your doing. Love, Allison

 
At 12:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting all of this so we could share in the day from far away. You are all always in our hearts. I loved the "reluctant country girl" story too.
We love you all so much....
The Garcias in Paradise

 
At 1:10 AM, Blogger BreezieGirl said...

How am I just now getting to the commenting on these posts? God bless you and your family... you all continue to be in my prayers.

 
At 5:38 PM, Anonymous m said...

I just wanted to say, I'm thinking of you and Happy Birthday Ellie.

 

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