Eighteen years ago at around 1:00am-ish, a baby girl came into this world that would change life as I knew it. I was 20 years old going to BYU. I remember getting woken up in the middle of the night with the words, "Ellen is here!" Ellen was a light, a joy, and healed so many of our heartaches with her beautiful smile. Never was a child more doted upon and adored!
For the first 3 years of that little girl's life, I took care of her at least 1-2 times a week. She was my first baby. She said my name before any of her other "aunts" because I taught her to. I remember when she first smiled, ate solids (and blew them out at her grandma when I encouraged her to), sat up, did her backwards scoot into corners, started drooling (never have you seen a baby drool as much as she did), stopped drooling, walked, etc.
I loved her from the first second I saw her in the NICU and love her just as much today. When she was 3 she moved away to the big bad world of Oregon. I thought she would forget me, but when she was 4 and came home for a visit, she jumped into my arms. I carried her around for a week, and she was heavy. I also learned that week not to be afraid of monsters when I go to sleep.
When she was 8 and got baptized I flew to the edge of nowhere to Fargo, North Dakota. She had me give the talk on the Holy Ghost because she said I wouldn't cry. I bawled my head off.
When I was 10 she was one of my Junior Bridesmaids at my wedding. She stuck like glue to my side for most of the day. 17 days before she turned 11, I had my first baby. The following summer I took pictures of her holding him. When she was 13 I had my baby girl. Then I took pictures of Ellen holding her and cried. Even today when I look at my little girl at 4 1/2, I am reminded of Ellen at this age. Summer of 2009, when she came to visit we went to the open house of the Oquirrh Mountain Temple. In one of the sealing rooms, my son sat on Ellen's lap. We looked in the reflecting mirrors together and I cried. This past summer my cousins and I had a girls' night/sleepover. Since Ellen was in town for the weekend, we invited her to come along. We made her try on wedding dresses and prom dresses and took goofy pictures and stayed up late and ate junk food. When Ellen turned 16 I decided to take her to Hawaii. So we went and had the best trip ever. She kept me young and made me hike where I didn't want to so that I would see fun things like waterfalls and giant sea turtles. And now that baby girl is 18 and a Senior in high school. When I look at her I can see every phase of her life flash before my eyes. I see that blue-eyed baby. I see that four year old with freckles. I see the eight year old in a purple dress. I see a Junior Bridesmaid in a navy blue dress. I see a little girl holding my children. And I see her today - a stunningly beautiful girl with an amazing personality and wonderful sense of humor.
Happy Birthday, My Ellerbaby! I love you as if you were my own, and I am grateful to have known someone as wonderful as you for the past 18 years!