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.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Winner #2

Last night we lit our candle for Ellie and placed it next to the Elephant drawing as well as a tiny photo of Ellie signing "I love you" with her hand. Our family bought us some gorgeous lilies, which completed the grouping.

Here is Ethan doing the honors (with a little help).


And here is Ethan moving the little picture. Apparently we had creative differences...


Then Ethan reached into the box to draw a name. I don't have a photo of this because things were a little crazy. But he mixed up the names and pulled one out. (I have Ethan do it because he can't read yet so all is fair!)

And the winner of Ellie's Elephant is:

Allison from Boone, Iowa

This was her comment:
"I stumbled onto your blog from a little picture of Ellie in someone else's blog that I had found and I have felt connected to your family ever since. I live in Boone, Iowa. You have really touched my family, I have 3 girls and at the time of when I found your blog a little over a year and 8 months ago, my daughter was almost 7 at the time and she was so close to the age Ellie was when she first got sick. My family still continues to pray for you guys. One of my favorite pictures of Ellie is the one when you guys went to the American girl store and she got the matching outfit to her doll, She looked so happy and excited. What an exciting giveaway, enjoy reading all the comments. We love you all and will keep praying for you."

Congratulations, Allison! And thank you for your sweet comment. Please email me with your address and I will send that out to you!

I've decided to hold the final drawing tomorrow morning instead of tonight. I finally have photos for you of the pillow! (Because I just finished it this morning.) I hope that the person who wins will enjoy it. It brought me great joy as I worked on it. I love touching her soft clothing and remembering Ellie in each outfit. Along with the pillow, I will be sending you a copy of the photos of Ellie from Monday's post.

The pillow is about 9 inches square. This is the front:


This is the back (which is a piece of Ellie's white sweatshirt):


Some details:




For those who have not yet entered to win, here's how:

Leave a comment. Please give your name, where you live (City and State, or Country - obviously for security reasons, do not leave your full address and you don't need to put your city if you're not comfortable with that. I just thought it would be fun to hear where people are visiting from.) and a description of how you know or have heard of Ellie.


Send an email to: seskees at hotmail dot com (replace at with "@" and dot with "." and run it all together). I know that some people have had trouble commenting, so I want to make sure that you have an alternate way of reaching me. When I receive your email, I will copy it and put it into the blog comments.

Everyone who has commented since Monday's post is eligible to win the pillow. You do not need to re-enter. But feel free to comment just for fun and remind me that your name's already in the hat! Thanks. :-)

The special treat that I have for you today is that you will be hearing from three of Ellie's special people!

My Mom, Nancy Hamm, has shared some wonderful thoughts and memories of Ellie.

Before you hear from Mom, I wanted to show you a few pictures...

This is a photo of Mom and Gary with their grandchildren (at the time). They have since added two from my brother, one from Gary's daughter Jenn, and one on the way from Gary's son, David. The kids from left to right: Ethan Ellie, Libby, Mady (these are the girls I told you about yesterday.)


This one was taken just before Mom and Gary were married. Baby Elijah in the foreground and from left to right: Libby, Ethan, Mady, Ellie


This is just one of the cutest pictures EVER. Ellie and Mady. Can you feel the love?


This is what Mom writes:
How do you summarize a life — even a short one? Ellie holds a special place in many hearts…because although her life was not long it had the depth of love that reached into the lives of those who knew her. I’ve often wondered whether we immortalize the dead and only remember their good — or whether Ellie was truly the extraordinary child that I remember. I believe she was extraordinary — not perfect, but truly amazing for her young years. What made her that way? There are her genetics, the environment in which she was raised, and also the fact that she accepted Christ as her personal Savior.

Other than the Lord, I believe that what impacted Ellie the most was all of the love that surrounded her from the day she was born. She blossomed from that first day in the warmth, love, and acceptance that encircled her. She had the undivided attention from parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts and uncles. She had a special “Grandma Jean” day to spend with her great grandmother. In return I believe that Ellie had a depth of love for all of her relatives and friends that is unusual for a child.

I used to pick Ellie up and drive her to school every morning. When we got to the school she always wanted me to get out of the car and go in with her — all the way to her classroom. It was a lot more work to turn the car off and go in, but I had a hard time saying no to Ellie. It seemed so important to her — or was she just wrapping me around her little finger? I really don’t know why she wanted me to escort her in — but it almost seemed like she wanted to share her school-life with me and me with her school friends and teacher. Ellie didn’t like to say good-bye, if she’d had her way I think all of her extended family would have lived in the same house and school would have had to come to her.

Ellie didn’t grow selfish and spoiled; instead she always wanted to give back. She was 100% with the person she was with and had a way of making that person seem like the most important person in her life. She was fun and enthusiastic, gentle and loving, kind and empathetic. Ellie was very observant — she noticed your clothes or new finger nail polish and she would compliment you on it. She was also very thankful and thoughtful. Ellie loved to snuggle close and hug you. Even after she died I would wake up and night and I could almost feel her snuggled next to me like on one of her over-night visits. It was fun to do things with and for Ellie. Ellie was not a “taker.” She always seemed to give back more — whether in appreciation, smiles & hugs, enthusiasm or thankfulness. I believe we all have a lot that we could learn from Ellie’s life.

We have an Ellie shaped hole in our hearts…but we need to fill it with love and contentment that Ellie is whole and happy and that someday we will see her again in heaven. I believe that is what Ellie wants! Happy 1st Birthday in Heaven my little sweetheart!


Thank you so much, Mom. Ellie loved you with all her heart and always enjoyed spending time with you. You had such a way of making Ellie feel special and completely loved!

I also want to share with you a comment I received yesterday from one of Ellie's friends. I just loved it!

"This is Aubrey Myers here. I am 9 years old and live in Sanford,FL. I love Ellie, she was my BFF. I loved playing at her house with her. It was special to be able to visit her in the hospital when she first got sick. One time before Ellie got sick, we got stuck in my room and the door would not open. We had to wait for a looong time. Ellie stuck her fingers out of the bottom of the door and said " we are hungry, we need food." That was soo funny!!! I miss you Ellie!

Aubrey and Ellie:


Myers and Skees kids! (Myers have since added Ella - remember when I was visiting Vickie in the hospital when she was in labor with Ella, back in Nov. 2006 - when Ellie was diagnosed with the chickenox?) Clockwise from Baby Julia: Ethan, Aubrey, Nicholas, Ellie


I would like to introduce you to John's cousin, Neal. (Neal is Belinda's son.) When we got married, Neal was two years old, and was one of the ring-bearers in our wedding. From the very start, I fell in love with that little boy. He was the most loving little guy I'd ever met! Well, he's not so little anymore. He's about to graduate from high school, and when I look at him, I have to look WAY up. Over the years, Neal has grown in height and knowledge and wisdom. But the one thing that he has never grown out of is his loving heart. Both of my kids have loved Neal from the time they can remember. Just this week, Neal gave us a gift that John and I will always cherish. I would like to share it with you. He wrote the first just after Ellie died, and the second one as the first anniversary of her death approached.


by Neal Stanley
January 2, 2008

I believe there is nothing more devastating
than the death of a young child.
My sweet Ellie of nine years died of a merciless cancer.
Our once strong family tries to rise out of its own ashes
after the blazing inferno of grief caused by Ellie's departure.
There is no reasoning with death.
He comes when he wants, taking what he sought.
Death doesn't hear the cry of a mother
who knew how perfect her daughter was.
Death doesn't bat an eye at a father who is torn between
working to provide for his family
and spending precious time with his baby girl.
Ellie has left this world and if you didn't know how special she was
you need only look at the wake of devastation she left behind.
The faces in my family all wear the same broken look
of someone who lost something truly precious.
Ethan, Ellie's little brother,
even grasped this horrible event despite his youth.
"Where's my Ellie?" he'd say.
When ever he sees a picture of his sis he just gazes at it for minutes.
I felt much closer to Ethan when I found out that he too can't escape
the sadness of Ellie's memory in his dreams.
We were touched by an angel and then death ripped her away.


Why Was She Born
by Neal Stanley
December 4, 2008

A decade ago a sweet baby girl was born to a family of love
And an angel cried why was she born if only to die

As she grew, so did the family's admiration and love towards her
And an angel cried why was she born if only to die

A boy in that same loving family cherished
the friendship and good times he would share with her
And an angel cried why was she born if only to die

As time carried on so did her pain
and a helpless boy sunk with a heavy heart
And an agnel cried why was she born if only to die

At the age of nine men in white coats gave her news
she would never fully understand
And an angel cried why was she born if only to die

And so finally when the cancer extinguished Ellie's beautiful spark of life
The boy cried why was she born if only to die

And God replied she was born not to die.
But to show the grace and poise
of one touched by the eternal light of heaven.


At 10:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh Sarah,

Each post brings tears to my eyes. Your mother's description and memories of Ellie are exactly how I pictured her. The poem by Neal was beautiful and so insightful for such a young man...The pillow turned out amazing of course because they were made by your talented hands and sown together with such love...Your family is so precious and inspires each of us to change our ways of thinking and living. Praise be to God for your courage, strength and love...

We love you guys!
The Haviland's
Charlotte, NC

PS. My name is already in the hat :)

At 11:22 AM, Anonymous TeamBettendorf said...

I wasn't going to enter (too much emotion) but then I thought Jillian might like the pillow...from one cancer girl to another. :)

At 11:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Sarah!
I first heard of your family from my good friend Julie Chaleski. She asked me to pray for your family and we did and still do. Part of the reason I was so drawn to your blog was because our son Levi had passed away in January 3, 2006 and the death our child was still so heavy upon our hearts.The other reason was because we have a 8 year old little girl too and I can't imagine losing her. BUT we have learned that the Lord is so real! He lives for us when we can't! I have seen Him do that for you and know how He has done that for me.
Ellie inspired me to live life to the fullest. You all made such wise decisions to enjoy her last months on this earth. She got to experience things that she would never have been able to in a hospital. Ellie also reminded me to enjoy my children. We never know what the Lord's perfect plan is and we need to spend as much time and make memories with our children. Life gets so busy and sometimes enjoying our children just doesn't get all the time it should.
Thank you for sharing your life with us! I can relate in so many areas and things you are going through reminds me of the healing the Lord has done in my own life. God is so good and this day is one day closer to when we can hug and love our precious children again in a place where nothing can separate us from them again!:) What a day that will be!

Love Your Sister in Christ,
Duncan, SC

At 11:39 AM, Blogger Elizabeth said...

I heard about Ellie through another blog. I have found such encouragement from reading the blog and Ellie's story. Sarah you have true gift in writing. There are no ways I can let you know how blessed I have been by sharing a small glimpse into the life of Ellie and the rest of the Skees family.
PS. I dont think I have entered before - I think it crossed my mind but alas I did not follow through...my life story these days:)

At 12:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dearest Sarah, John and Ethan,

I am Kathy from Orlando Florida. I married Michael who is Ellie's great-uncle (Papi Stan's brother). I come from a loving but small family. When I was a little girl I prayed for a big family and when I was 24 God answered my prayer!
I was so blessed to be one of Ellie's great-aunts. I miss Ellie more than words can describe.

I want to share a "Ellie" story. One night at the hospital I was getting ready to go back to the Ronald McDonald House and Ellie handed me one of her stuffed animals, an adorable bunny. She said, "Here Aunt Kathy, you don't have anyone to snuggle with, you can have her." I told Ellie that I felt bad taking her stuffed animal to which she rolled her eyes and said, "Pleeeaase I have plenty!" and pointed to all of her animals. We decided to name her "Snuggle Bunny".

This was the essence of precious Ellie. Eight years old and in the hospital for chemotherapy and she is worried about her aunt being alone. What a generous, gentle, loving little girl!

I have many beautiful, precious memories of Ellie, a drawer full of little Ellie "gifts" and I have "Snuggle Bunny"! So Sarah no need to enter me in the contest I have already been touched by your angel!

With tears of joy and sorrow,
Aunt Kathy

At 1:32 PM, Anonymous Jenn said...

Isn't it amazing how children see life & death...
One day not to long ago I was reading the blog, remembering all of our fun times as a family, smiling at pictures and crying ( the last couple weeks I think I have cried enough to fill up a pool or two) and Mady (Ellie's 8 yo cousin)walked into the room and said, "mom are you crying? Yes I said, I am remembering how much I love Ellie & how much I miss her." She said..."I know I love her too but just think mom, she gets to see Opa, Nana, Ryan, and her Grandpa Dave(how cool that she remembered him, she never knew him!!!!!) all the time...how cool is that!" She gave me a hug, kiss rubbed my back for a sec and went on her way! From the mouth's of babes!!! I learn so much from my girls!

Recently Libby (our 5yo)said..."mom...I think it is pretty cool that Ellie is an angel, will she come and get me when I go to heaven?" It was a lump in the throat moment though one that I answered simply by saying, "You bet babe, Jesus, Ellie, Nana, Ryan, Opa and all the other angels will be waiting for you in heaven to fly in the clouds." She loved it and kept eating her mac n cheese!
So simple, so sweet, so much love, just like Ellie. Forever in our hearts!!!!

At 2:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The poems by Neal really touched me. Like the angel, I have repeatedly cried to God wondering why He would allow someone to be born only to die in such pain, leaving so many hurting. His poem answered this beautifully. Thank you, Neal, for sharing Ellie with me in this way. And thank you, Ellie, for being yourself, for being "touched by the eternal light of heaven" and then for sharing that light with all of us.

LizAnn Jordan, Mobile Alabama

At 2:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. Neal's poems were good, they had so much feeling in them. They made me cry. Sometimes I feel that way when I remember Ellie or my brother or my Grandfather. But God has a plan and He knows hat he is doing and we can rest in that comfort.


P.S. I have already entered in the contest. Don't count me again.

At 5:14 PM, Blogger Jackie Davis said...

Hello Sarah,
I have missed the last few days and am totally bummed! But i am all caught up and want to be entered :)

We are missionaries in Guatemala. We go to "Chapel by the Sea" in FL, and we get the church's Forwarded updates from Chad Mankin and family. I was so excited to be introduced to them through getting their updates since we seem to share a church. Ellie's blog link was posted on an email to the church list. And this is how I've come to know ellie and you and family! I've been reading as I can since. I feel I've laughed and cried with you so many times! You are amazinng and you help me be a 'better' mom.

I also am on a committee here to put on a conference for missionaries here. At one of our meetings i mentioned how fast Chad's adoption went for his second son and another missionary confirmed who it was and found out she's Chad's wife's Aunt. Small world, the Christian community is, I call is a glimpse of Heaven. So if I don't meet you in person here, i will meet you there!

Love and HUGS!
Sister in Christ,
Jackie Davis
Florida & Guatemala

PS: loved Aunt Kathy's post!!!

At 5:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautiful post, Sarah. Thank you for the great photos of Ellie's younger years. I hadn't seen some of them and they are precious. Sheri

At 6:37 PM, Anonymous Amy Merrill, Davenport FL said...


I will try to keep this short but I do not know how I can. You and your family have been a part of my live for more years than you realize. I have never met you or Ellie but my daughter, Lorenza, had lunch with Ellie when she was about 5. My mom met up with Stan for lunch somewhere on the outskirts of Orlando (Sanford I believe - it has been many years and my memory fails me). My mom knows him from church - she attends the chapel at NAS Mayport. Once Ellie was diagnosed, my mom told me about the blog and reminded me about Lorenza and Ellie having that meal. My daughter will be 10 in January (I have a wonderful son as well who turned 4 in July). I have read and kept up with your blog ever since. But you are more intertwined in my life than that lunch Lorenza had with Ellie or my mom knowing Stan. Lorenza's dad is Colombian. On our first family trip to Colombia my mom told me the story of a missionary that was taken from Panama by Colombian rebels and how the church was praying for him each week. She was petrified of my going to Colombia - especially with Lorenza who had just turned 2. It was through your blog I realized who that missionary was. The last little link was discovered last year. My husband of five years and I had started to get back in touch with people we had gone to high school with and my husband reconnected with one of his very good friends from high school who had married his high school girlfriend. As my family spent time with their family, my mom asked me if I knew the wife's maiden name - my mom thought maybe she could remember her from high school. I said 'her name was Hope Skees' and my mom responded 'As in Ellie Skees???' I later confirmed with Hope that she is indeed related to John.

Your blog has made me smile. It has made me cry. There were times when I could not understand the magnitude or difficulty of the decisions you were making. I am, by nature, a very private person and have never commented before but I felt compelled to write this evening. Ellie has touched so many lives. I continue to marvel at your family’s ability to cope with this lose.

Now that I have said all that I find I am suddenly at a lose for words. I just want you to know that Ellie has touched so many peoples lives and I wanted to thank you for allowing us to share your life.

At 7:35 PM, Blogger The Claar Family said...

My name is Amy Claar and I follow your blog from Michigan. I found this site when you posted the link on Marissa Monroe's CaringBridge site. So, I wanted to identify myself as one of Ellie's blog followers and enter into your super neat contest. If I happen to be the winner of the pillow, please know that I would love to use it as a creative tool for research funding. There are a few ideas floating around in my mind, and I'm not just talking auctioning it off to the highest bidder...no way! Ellie was so creative, so anything done in her name should be creative as well! May God bless all of you and hold you close as you walk through the tough days ahead. Thank you for allowing strangers like me to be blessed by your precious daughter and her memory. Thank you!!
~Amy Claar

At 8:57 PM, Blogger Dirkey said...

I just found your blog tonight. Your little girl was so special, I've spent the past few hours just reading about your journey and your life. For some reason it struck me to look to see what your life was like on my own wedding anniversary and found out that our anniversaries are only two days apart. Seems silly but I know that I will think of you on our anniversary from now on and ask God to bless you and your Family.

At 9:20 PM, Blogger sumi said...

Oh Sarah, I don't know where to begin commenting.

Just know I loved every bit of this post.

You are celebrating Ellie so beautifully, and hope you don't mind if I copy some of your ideas when Jenna's first "heaven day" rolls around in February.

Thank you for being such a sweet "cyber friend" - I am so glad our paths crossed in blogland!

I love your Ellie pillow, and am thinking that a similar one out of Jenna's clothes would make a great Christmas gift for Jenna's granny.

Was it difficult to cut the clothes? I imagine it might be, for me.

At 10:18 PM, Blogger BreezieGirl said...

I don't even know where to start... each portion of this entry was simply beautiful. But where was our tear warning?

That pillow (and the one you made for Ethan) is BEAUTIFUL... you are SO talented!!!

Your mom's, Aubrey's, and Neal's words spoke volumes about Ellie and her life for those that did not know her personally. Thank you for sharing.

And Neal? Your writing is fantastic!

At 2:37 AM, Blogger Mandy Caley said...

beloved people
you are still in our thoughts and prayers especially at this time when THE anniversary draws near, you know we lost our baby grandson Leon on Dec 22nd so I kind of feel like he and Ellie are together....even though he passed four years ago now.
We won't be online on THE day so we wanted to send our love and assure you of our prayers, sweet Ellie has touched so many lives, including ours as have you both. [and the poems by Neal are amazing.]
we send you our love in Jesus

At 9:34 PM, Blogger oneofhisfriends said...

Dear Sarah and all,

Thanks for all of the postings in your blog entry today. The Elliephant shows that your daughter has some serious artistic talent. I've made it my new desktop picture.

Allison's, your Mom's, Aubrey's and Neal's words are most edifying. They manifest the goodness of God.

For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him.
Luke 20:38



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