Ella's feet

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A letter written by Lyda's mother (Rita Mae Morehouse) shortly after Ella's death:

Lyda and Shawn:

I woke up this morning at about 5:00 with an urge to write to you about this.

In the afternoon, yesterday, I was standing outside by the flowers and a huge beautiful black and yellow butterfly Iíd never seen before appeared and hung about the flowers for all the time I was outside. When I saw it, I thought of Ella. Then later on, when I was in the yard again just staring idly off into the distance thinking about her, I felt a bump on my forearm, and looked down to see a different huge butterfly who had literally ran into me and then flew past me to the flowers. The word summerland came to my mind, but it didnít make any sense. Much later as I was puzzling over it, I remembered hearing Shawn use this word during our time in the hospital.

Then after supper Mort and I went over to the Mall to pick up our glasses, and on the way there I thought of Mortís silver baby spoon we had given you last New Yearís, and I thought while we were at the Mall I might look to see if they still have those and think about having one engraved for Ella. I looked in one of the jewelry stores and one of the people there directed me to a kiosk called "Things Remembered" at the other end of the Mall so I walked there to look at what they had. The first thing I saw was a silver baby shoe and I thought thatís about the same size as Ellaís big foot and I could almost see her foot in it. And then I remembered Shawnís saying that Ella needed to be on a different journey and suddenly I felt like about 500 pounds of weight had lifted off my shoulders.

As Iíve been putting these things together I think Ella must be thinking Grandma is sort of slow. I missed the butterflies, but I think she was leading me by the hand to the shoe. That I got. I was always thinking of her as we were buying stuff all these months at the ropas and the rummage. She had to show me stuff to buy for her before I got the message. And since she got through, I have been at least 50 times better and I can almost see the way out.

And I think it all was how it was meant to be. I know you are struggling with the "what ifs" and "maybe we should haves," but I think Ella wanted to leave from home and thatís what she did. And I think itís actually her who wants me to tell you that.

For myself, I need to thank you both for giving us our pretty Ella. This past year has been such fun with finding things for her and sharing all the moments along the way. Sheís always been so real to me. Iíve seen her wearing all the dresses and the hats. She has been family from the time that she began. You both did such a good job with her. You sent her off with a sturdy little body and some feet for any journey. Sometime when most of the pain is gone, you must tell me about summerland. I think where she needed to go is a place very much like that.



Ella's obituary will be online for a year (until August 2003). If you would like to sign the guest book, please do.

Also, our dear friend Rachel Gold has set up a memorial fund for Ella. If you would like to contribute, you can send a check or money order to: Rachel Gold, 4521 Westwood Lane, Golden Valley, MN 55416 or email her at rgold@einsof.com.


Ella's birth story

Eventually, I would like to write a bit about Ella's birth. Shawn and I lost Ella while she was in the womb. Ella was full-term (actually 10 days late), and had been healthy and happy just days before she died on Monday, August 5, 2002.

The things that I never get to tell strangers (and some friends), is that Ella was beautiful. She looked like her mother Shawn. As Grandma Morehouse has said "Shawn dominated C105" (Ella's sperm donor dad). Ella also had these amazingly big feet, as you can see above. She was 7 pounds 13 and 1/2 ounces, and 21 and 1/2 inches long. She had dark, soft curls. And, despite everything, she was the most beautiful and wonderful child I've ever seen.

Before Ella was born, I used to worry that I wouldn't be able to bond with a child I hadn't, myself, birthed. Now I know that's not true. If anything, you'd think that knowing that she was already gone would make me want to distance myself from her. Even if I had wanted that, it didn't happen. Ella will always be our little girl.

Shawn and I are planning on "trying again"--although Shawn doesn't like that phrase at all. It makes it sound as though Ella was some insignificant mistake... and Ella was neither a mistake nor insignificant. She was intentional, perfect, and profound. Who ever comes next will be so lucky as to have a sister like Ella.