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I still remember that afternoon in the NICU as I watched the mother smiling through swollen-starved eyes and holding her brain-damaged daughter in her arms. Next to her stood her grandmother, my dear friend. Not much was said—just a loving presence, fresh tears feeding the grief and more hugs. That was in 2002.

When stable, the newborn would return home. Never was there mention of an institution to provide the 24/7 support she would require for the rest of her life: hands-on care and tube feedings that afforded nutrition and the medical management of her chronic seizures and cerebral palsy.

Years passed. Daily, she was fed, washed, dressed, and placed in her special chair in front of videos that seemed to spark something in her. Birthdays and holidays celebrated her smiling psyche, always in blessing toward others. Daily, she was kissed and blessed with holy water. Illnesses were infrequent.

However in 2018, a significant respiratory infection almost ended her life, save for the twenty-four hour intervention by her mother and grandmother in their home. In no time, she was back to her normal and remained so until the beginning of this month.

Again, she became gravely ill: more high fevers, intermittent seizures, and respiratory symptoms that required constant suctioning for over a week. Rather than send her to the hospital for treatment, they chose to work with her at home, as before. Given the impeccable care she has always received, no one could surmise the cause of these disorders.

Yet, two days ago, her old normalcy began to reappear. Spirits lifted, for a time. Only last evening’s brightness around her blue eyes evidenced something else was going on—something near the ceiling. Kissed and blessed with holy water as always, the grandmother retired for the night—but found her remains this morning.

Ellie, another angel, has returned to Precious God from whence she came. On April twenty-third, she would have been twenty-one years old. May we all learn from Ellie and her caregivers.

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