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New Grief, New Loss

Ellie After Her Performance In Auntie Mame Two Weeks Before She Passed

Today marks one month to the day that my boyfriend's sixteen year old daughter passed away in her sleep sometime between the hours of 3 AM and 7 AM. And what I want to do today is sit with Ellie's memory and write about her and our journey. I have not blogged for quite some time because my life so quickly filled up with new love--love for Chris, love for Ellie and love for Hank. I didn't want to share publicly about our relationships because, well, I wanted to 'be sure'. But now, with the loss of precious Ellie, I feel the need to share our journey with a new kind of grief.

For now, I will share what I wrote on Facebook just three days after Ellie's passing, since many of you are not on Facebook. We have been getting asked a lot of questions, and I will do my best to share our journey here on my blog.



Facebook Post: December 21st, 2023

We lost a beautiful bright light, my boyfriend's daughter and my future stepdaughter this week. She died unexpectedly in her sleep Monday morning. Elliana Grace (Ellie) was 16 years old.

For those who want the full story:

Last spring, I fell madly in love with the kindest, gentlest man. In turn, through Chris's stories, I grew to love his children. I met Ellie and Hank for the first time at Rowe's Research Runners this fall.

After that, we began to integrate as a family. Hank, who is almost 14 and autistic, loves having Emily come over to hear about marching bands and Thomas the Train and buses and is loved by all for his warm and loving spirit.

As soon as Ellie met me she wanted to cook a meal for me and have me over for dinner. She asked if "Emily had any dietary restrictions" and researched gluten-free recipes. She decided on taco soup.

She welcomed me with open arms, love, acceptance and charmed me with her humor, intelligence, passion, but most of all, her kindness and empathy and loving heart.

We were so similar sometimes in our feelings and our experiences, and she spent her life living with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS), meaning she was born with half of a heart.

Last week on Tuesday, she had a 10 1/2 hour surgery to repair her tricuspid valve and place a pacemaker. She seemed to be recovering beautifully.

Chris and I took care of her over the weekend, he took her to her mom's on Sunday evening, and by Monday morning she was found unresponsive.

Bearing witness to Chris's grief is one of the most painful and difficult things I have ever done. I can only sit with him in his grief. What is asked of a parent who loses a child is superhuman--writing an obituary; picking a casket, cemetery and plot location; uploading your favorite photos of your child; making sure everyone has clothes to wear--all while just trying to survive the pain of losing a child.

My feels and grief are all over the place. Grief for Chris. Grief over losing Ellie and having such a short time with her. Grief over lost dreams. We had so many plans for Ellie and our new little family. We couldn't wait to take her to the pool, cook more meals, play lots of Scattergories, paint nails, watch Abbott Elementary, take her to musicals. Grief over how such a beautiful, kind spirit didn't get more time on this Earth. Anger over what has been taken away from us and from Ellie. Fear of how we can endure this loss as a couple.

I know that the only way through is through. That we will take it one breath at a time.

We love you so much Ellie and we miss you so much. Tovah Rose and Gershwin loved you as much as you loved them. We grieve that you didn't have more time to experience life, and we grieve our time lost with you.

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