Dear Ellie,

It’s been a while that I’ve written on here. Life got real busy this year and I’m really trying to take care of myself so I can be strong and healthy for you. I know you understand and you get it. You somehow always seem to understand. I joke to the other kids how good you are to me. You never talk back, your room is always clean, you hug me and love me whenever I ask and you never ever fight with the others!! Ha, they can all learn something (else) from you.

Happy 12th birthday, Girlfriend. I feel like it’s time that I do another letter to you. (Please excuse the grammar and structure as this is a from the heart letter and I have to get ready for hosting Thanksgiving tomorrow).

12 More Things that you are Teaching All of Us:

  1. Compassion. Yep, you’ve always helped us with this BUT I have had some tears of joy the past few weeks when I asked your 14 year old brother, Gavin, to carry you into bed and he says, “Sure, no problem.” You know how he can drive me crazy sometimes but the way he is towards you melts my heart and you are helping to make him into such a good young man. Thank you for that! It is huge. And that birthday card, little Delaney wrote to you today…. and the way all the cousins support you and have your back (literally, this was them jumping on treadmill with you today). Thank you Ellie for teaching them compassion. 2. The saying, “This To Shall Pass” is so true. I have said that saying so many times over the years, I have lost count. There were many many days/years when I wondered if the tough times would pass but they have and they do. For many years, we said you had the “no sleep gene” and you did NOT like to sleep. We were some tired parents for about 8-9 years but now you are sleeping and you actually like it. You will even get up (yes, you will walk–I said that) to your bed. There are so many miracles in that sentence. Your Dad and I are especially grateful that you started to sleep because they were some challenging years. Thank you for that!

          3. Family Matters. You’ve really help me keep my priorities in check. You have grounded me. You are a rock star participating the past 2 years in the triathlon with Gavin as your guide and you killed it. With so many external pressures of places to be and other things pulling for our time, I have learned to say NO and prioritize things that matter and YOU matter. This is your one big event each year and we will do everything we can to all be there for you.  Many times, I have learned when we have to make tough choices, I ask myself, “Will this matter in 6 months, 1 year, 5 years?” It really helps keep things in check. Thanks to Molly for always documenting it.

We love Miss Cynthia!

 4. So Many People Have Come Into our Life Because of YOU. I remember when you were first born, we read that poem, “Welcome to Holland” and it talked about the new people we would meet. So many of your wonderful aides have become family to us. I could go on and on about the amazing people that have come into our life. It seems like every person that works with you has this beautiful and kind spirit and we instantly click. It’s a great thing.

5. My Faith is Strong. Even though I may not get to mass every single Sunday (sorry, Mom), I do rely on my faith, a LOT. While I’ve always been faithful, I know it was strengthened because of you, Ellie. We’ve had some tough years but we did it! As of result of this, I feel more courageous and strong and have learned to live the saying, Let Go and Let God. It is the only way and it is applicable to all aspects of my life. Thank you, El.

6. Deep real conversations always. It is really hard for me to have shallow conversations. If anyone knows me, they know I go right for the good stuff. I’m sure it can be annoying sometimes, though. Sometimes, it is hard for me when people complain about other people or complain about their little problems but I’ve learned that everyone has their own hardships and we all deal with life differently. But I’ve learned if it is shallow talk, it is best to walk away and find my tribe. I feel like you’ve really helped me with this because without you, I’d probably be a different person too. I like this about me so thank you!

7. It’s all about Love. Enough said. Love rocks. You give it, you take it, you love it. You know what real pain is but somehow no matter what you’ve been through, you smile and you melt when you are loved. Guess what–we are fueled by your love tremendously too. We are all blessed by having you in our lives and thank you for the love you share with the world.

8. You can pick the March Madness brackets like no other. You’ve got mad skills Ellie and you look out for the underdog too. Thank you for fully participating in activities when you can. I always think of your Uncle Kevin who said to me when you were very little, “Come bring Ellie here so she can do everything like the other kids.” So now whenever it is feasible, we really try to do that for you. Not gonna lie, sometimes, I don’t and take the easy way out but we try to include you as much as possible. Here’s a video of that moment picking your brackets like a champ.

9. We all need a break from each other once in a while. I can’t thank you enough for allowing us to go on a vacation to Europe without you this past summer. No, it was not easy to leave you behind and yes, you were missed but it was awesome. I really bonded with the other kids, we were adventurous and did everything that we couldn’t do with you. We took full advantage of our time away but you were missed. There isn’t a day that goes by that I wish you could have more independence and be there with us but that’s not our reality right now and I’m ok with that. I know you needed a break from us too and you had a ball at camp. I say it was a win-win situation. Thank you!

Reunited after 2 weeks away from each other!

10. It’s the Simple Things in this Life. Love, clapping hands, playing ball, dressing up, hanging with your family and giving you attention are all you ever really want. Who needs fancy things when the basics are usually more than enough. Thanks for the daily reminder especially as we enter into the holiday season.

11. There are so many good good people out there in this world. I know this because I am constantly amazed at the kind people who stop and take a minute to engage with you, El. Remember that time you and I were sitting in the penalty box at ice skating watching the others when the kind owner came up and said I could take you in there with the wheelchair. Yes, that was amazing. And now we go ice skating every year with you. So many people treat you as though you know exactly what they are saying (and you do) and they love you and talk to you and acknowledge you. There are so many people that have been praying for you since day one and even still now. We have been given so many opportunities because of you from kind and generous people. We often say to each other, “Thank you, Ellie, this is all because of you.” And for those that don’t acknowledge you or look away, their loss because you have something amazing to offer to everyone. 

12. I Still have Hopes and Dreams for You and Me. I think I told you that I am still waiting for that day when you walk into my room, wake me up by being in my face to say, “I love you, Mommy.” I know we still have a long way to go for that to happen but so many miracles have happened since Day 1 that I didn’t think would happen.


Happy Birthday, Sweet Angel Ellie! I love you so much and I can’t wait to see what the next year will bring to you! You

are so loved!

Remember this day, Ellie? We were so happy that you were standing all by yourself. Now look at you! I know you’ll be running into my room someday and talking to me too!!!

xoxo, Mommy

PS– If you want to read some of my other love letters (I mean, lessons, I’ve learned from you), you can from your 6th birthday and your 8th birthday.