Last Thursday, Dec 11th, 2008 Isabelle Elaine Ellis died of heart failure at the age of three and half while waiting for a heart transplant at St Louis Children’s Hospital. We gather together today as family and friends of Isabelle to grieve our loss, to pay our respects, and to celebrate Isabelle’s life.
Isabelle was born February 4, 2005, in Topeka, the daughter of Chris and Amanda Ellis.
Isabelle enjoyed and embraced every moment of her brief life – singing, dancing, making things, playing with her sister Elorah and her parents, taking swimming lessons and picking flowers, cherry tomatoes and strawberries from the garden in the back yard. The strawberries would not even make it back into the house because she would eat them all up on the way. That was Isabelle – savoring all of life - living life to its fullest. Isabelle lived as if she knew that she would not be here forever.
To know Isabelle was to love her. Everyone adored her. Her light burned so bright that she lit up any room she entered. Isabelle was the welcoming committee where ever she went. Especially at her pre-school at the University of Kansas called Sunnyside and EduCare. She would greet people with a smile and a compliment: “You are so beautiful”, “You look like a princess”. She won people over with her out going personality and her genuine sweetness. She was always the teacher’s pet.
Clearly, Isabelle had the heart of a princess...
Isabelle also had the heart of a warrior!
Isabelle was the Warrior Princess.
She faced her many medical challenges with an incredible toughness and quiet calm. She endured tremendous pain with a courage and strength that many adults wished they could have. Isabelle did not resist or refuse any medical procedures. She was not fearful or anxious. She did not complain.She accepted the situation with a peaceful poise and wisdom beyond her years. Many have said that Isabelle had a really old soul.
Isabelle would even show concern for those who were caring for her. She would pat her mom and dad on the back or the nurse on the back and offer a look like “it’s okay.” She wanted to help those who were trying to help her. Isabelle is an inspiration to so many nurses, doctors, teachers, friends and family. As is evident by your presence here today.
It is astounding to think about all the diseases and serious medical conditions Isabelle endured. She had multiple heart attacks, at least 8 heart catheterizations, 4 open heart surgeries, acute liver failure, dialysis, a bacteria infection called C-DIFF, edema caused her to swell up with a gallon and a half of fluid, and she had a large blood clot called a thrombus. It is truly miraculous that Isabelle survived for three and half years! How did Isabelle survive for so long?
Isabelle drew her strength from all of you who surrounded her with love, especially her mom and dad. Chris and Amanda love Isabelle with such intensity and dedication. They were always by her side through everything – doing everything they could to help her. When others would have given up, Amanda and Chris kept their hope alive. Chris and Amanda’s tireless devotion to Isabelle through out this ordeal is an inspiration to all of us. Your deep love for her is very evident. Just look at all the care and attention to detail that went into planning Isabelle’s service today with the decorations, the bulletin, the harp, the choice of songs, photos...
Chris and Amanda told me that they feel so blessed to have been given the opportunity to know and love Isabelle. Isabelle was also blessed to know and love you. Amanda and Chris, I hope you find some comfort in knowing that you gave Isabelle the best you had to offer.
I have to share one last story about Isabelle - a miraculous and sacred event which occurred for about two weeks around Thanksgiving in St Louis. Even though Isabelle was tired and weak from fighting so hard and for so long, she dug down deep and pulled it together for one last hurrah. She came to life – she had an “awakening” so to speak. Isabelle played with her sister and family; they had tea parties and took care of her stuff puppy dog. Elorah sang the alphabet while Isabelle played her drum. Isabelle played with her dolls, made art with stickers, watched movies. Isabelle was being old herself again. Isabelle gave her family the gift of one last precious memory of her.
Isabelle fought the good fight. She gave it her all. She poured out her heart – the heart of a warrior princess. Now, she has left us and gone home to live in the God’s palace in heaven having made her part of the world a better place. It is truly astounding how such a short life can touch so many lives. The out pouring of love in cards, poems, music, and art are a testament to how much Isabelle affected so many people. I want to share with you a poem written about Isabelle by Tangela Welch, one of Isabelle’s many angels who cared for her.poem reading
It is time for us to say good bye to Isabelle Elaine Ellis. While her brief life on this earth has ended, she lives on in the memories of her that you carry in your hearts and she lives on in eternal life with Jesus Christ.Discussion about loss
This is a devastating loss - a gaping whole in our lives. This tragic loss of young life reminds us just how fragile life really is and how precious it is. All funerals are times of sadness, but the funeral of a child - a baby - is especially devastating...
The grieving process is all the more difficult and all the more essential, there is: no one way to grieve or right way to grieve, numbness and confusion, disbelief and denial, anger and resentment, feelings of failure, guilt, deep sorrow and sadness. As you grieve together try to be patient and understanding with one another.
If you are struggling to hold onto your faith right now, you are not alone. Many people of God, good and faithful people, saints, leaders have called out to God in scripture lamenting their losses, and pain, and struggles.scripture reading
Is this God’s will? It’s tempting to give answers as form of comfort, try to fix it, make it better. There are no good answers. How do you offer a satisfactory answer in the midst of profound questions about life and death? Are we comfortable with ambiguity, mystery, unknown?
God’s grace and healing power is released when we just gather together.... listen, be present, lean on each other, share in the grief, hug, say I love you.
Trust that God is walking with you, weeping with you, worrying about you and washing over your aching hearts with his healing grace - even if you don’t have the desire or strength to pray.scripture reading