I am somewhat hesitant to post about this topic because if there is one thing that most people have a strong opinion on- it's religion. I'm not sharing my thoughts of this topic because I am looking for a lot of conversation (read: arguing) on it. I believe that everyone has their own thoughts and beliefs on this topic- and that's great- I don't really care to argue about it. I don't want anyone to comment and get all "churchy" on me. Seriously- no bible verses, no sermons- it will just irritate me and I will likely delete them... Thanks
So one year ago, on October 16th, exactly one week before Ellie got deathly sick, we had her baptized. Since Ellie had died, a few people have asked if she was baptized. I was very surprised by their response of "oh good" when I said yes. Huh? And if she hadn't been?? Are you implying that my child would have not gone to Heaven?
I believe in God and I believe in Heaven. I have no doubt in my mind that Ellie is in Heaven. I believe that had she not been baptized, she would still be there. I believe everyone goes to Heaven, even those who do not deserve to while they were here on earth. It is my belief that people who do wrong, bad, and even horrible things here, are "healed" when they get to Heaven. They are no longer that bad or evil person- that person ceases to exist. I'm sure this doesn't sit well with a lot of people. I don't really care- everyone has their beliefs. But here's why I believe this...
Despite what many religions would like their followers to believe, I refuse to view God as vengeful and punishing. I refuse to believe that my daughter is spending her all-of-eternity with “someone” that would seriously sentence a person to an eternity in Hell. I just don’t buy it. It seems a little like a scare tactic to me… It goes along with my strong belief that God doesn’t necessarily cause the bad things that happen in our lives.
When I was working as a nurse on the pediatric oncology floor, I saw some of the most heartbreaking things that I thought I would ever see (until I saw my own daughter go through something just as horrific…). You can’t be in that environment of suffering and pain every day, and not wonder why. What could those families, and those children have done to deserve something to completely awful? Obviously, the answer is nothing. They didn’t do anything- a child could never do something bad enough to deserve years of cancer treatments. After a while it just became obvious to me- sometimes bad things just happen. There isn’t a reason. No one was being punished, or being taught a lesson. God wasn’t trying to give a family a harsh reality check or make them pay. I refused to believe in a God like that. I wanted no part of that.
It’s my belief that God is loving, caring, forgiving and supportive. I believe He lifts people up, not knocks them down. I came to this conclusion long before Ellie was even in our life. I will say that having her ripped out of our arms in such a painful and dramatic manner, made me wonder. Sometimes the thought still crosses my mind- what did we do? What am I being punished for? These doubts come into my mind when the pain is at its greatest. When my thoughts start to clear again, and the pain recedes, these questions just don’t still well with me… I don’t think we did anything to deserve this.
Even after everything we’ve been through, I still don’t believe that God made any sort of decision about my baby dying. I feel like God knew and gave us last precious moments with our girl, knowing that pain we would soon endure- like Dave and I taking her out for dinner the week before, her waking up before her fever got too bad to give me smiles, her last moment of alertness in the ER before we took her to the PICU. I feel like God put certain people in our lives years and years ago, knowing they would play an important part in our survival of the last year. I believe that God gave us the strength, faith, grace and clarity to get through this.
When people say things like, “God wanted another angel,” “God had a plan for her,” “God must have known that something more painful was in her future and he spared her,” I get mad. I don’t believe any of that. There are some days when I can go along with the idea that God finally let her body give up at about 11:55pm on 10/24 when things just got too bad. There are times when I can believe he saved her from that pain. I’m ok with that. But I won’t for one second, believe that God took my daughter for any reason. I don’t believe that he would cause that sort of pain to Dave and I- I believe Ellie died, and God has helped us through it. So please don’t ever say those things to me…
People have asked if we go to church. No, we don’t. I don’t believe that I need to go to a place specific building every Sunday, listen to “stories” and be told how to earn my way to Heaven. Like I said, I believe I’m going. I don’t need to go to church so I can learn how to be a good person- I try to be a good person every day. It’s not that I’m against church; it’s just not for me. For some people it lifts them up and serves as a great source of community.
There is one place where I would go if I was going to go- the place where we had Ellie’s funeral. When it came time to plan Ellie’s funeral, we were at a loss. We didn’t have a church or a pastor. Thankfully my aunt stepped in and offered to talk to the church/ pastor that her and my grandparents go to. This is one of those instances where I believe that God jumped it and led us right to Pastor Paul. We could not have asked for a more perfect person to do Ellie’s funeral. Dave and I never felt out of place, and we were never once told that this was “God’s Plan.” I believe Pastor Paul even said “God didn’t do this…” “There’s no reason…” “This sucks…” It was the perfect place for us to say goodbye to our girl. So if I had the desire to go to church, I would go there- to Pastor Paul… But sadly, now, that place will always be where we had Ellie’s funeral…
So you might be wondering, no church? How did you baptize Ellie?? We had the guy that married us (yes a real pastor that you can pretty much rent out…) baptize her, just like he did Max. To be honest, we mostly got the children baptized for the sake of our parents and grandparents. We got sick of hearing, when? When? I don’t believe that the pouring of water of my child’s head will in any way affect their future. Our children will be raised knowing about God and believing in Him and Heaven, but all of the rites and rituals seem like lot “hooey” to me. I believe that a lot of it was established to scare people into acting a certain a way, and now, they’ve just been around for so long, people are still stuck doing it. I believe that if you want to have faith in God and Heaven, etc., than just do it. Just be a good person. Love those around you, be kind, and be grateful. Be faithful. Being faithful means you don’t necessarily have any proof that what you are believing in exists, you just believe.
I’m not trying to say my thoughts are right for everyone, but for me- they are what I lean on every day to get through. So yeah, we got Ellie baptized a week before she died. To me, this doesn’t mean anything. I feel like Ellie still died and where her beautiful little soul went afterwards had nothing to do with it.
I am thankful, in a way I can’t even express, that we had everyone together to be with Ellie on this day. For several of them, it was the last time they saw Ellie, as Ellie. And I am so grateful we took the time to take some pictures of our little girl with every one…
Ellie's expressions are hilarious...She's very concerned with what seems to be going on... Such a curious little Peanut!
Trying to get a decent family picture...
Ellie with Grams and Gramps
Ellie and Grandma and Papa
Ellie with Ma and Bompa
I had to show this picture because of Ellie's crazy mohawk hair
Trying to get a picture of the three cousins... the boys weren't too interested. Ellie just kept sitting there, wondering where the boys were going or just looking at the camera being sweet...