If you’re a parent, there are a few things that you do with your child that become routine. Brushing teeth, kissing a bruised knee, reading a story before bed — these are all just a part of your everyday lives.
Buckling your child into his or her car seat, safe and sound, clearly fits into this category. And for one grieving mom, who just lost her 4-year-old to brain cancer, that instinct hasn’t gone away. Little Ellie was cremated — and her ashes, temporarily placed in a box as the family waits for their custom urn, needed to come home. Sarah Walton strapped Ellie into her car seat one last time and later, turned to Facebook to share a photo and message about her grief.
“Driving you home the other day, I was scared, but buckling you in felt normal,” she wrote on Ellie’s Facebook page. “Even though none of this is normal, none of this is right. You should be here.”
Walton turned Ellie’s temporary urn, a plain white box, into a mini monument covered in pink and blue lace doily, a photo and her name. The box fit snugly into Ellie’s car seat. Next to the box, Walton placed a pair of Ellie’s tiny purple sunglasses — because of course she would have wanted them.
Ellie was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor at just 4 months, which made chemo, hospital visits and pain constant variables in the child’s short life. But while Ellie’s childhood might have been marred by cancer, it was not defined by it. “I want your laughter and your joyous heart back,” Walton wrote of her happy little girl. “I will forever be grateful to have been your mommy.”
Walton’s agony is unfathomable, but her words bravely articulate what it is like to lose a child: “Death is so selfish baby girl,” she wrote. “I know [you’re] in a better place, and yet no place is better than in my arms. I know [you’re] happy and pain free, and yet I want you here.”
It has been two months without Ellie. While a future without her child seems unbearable, Walton has learned “true bravery, strength and courage” from her daughter and is now dedicated to fighting and beating pediatric cancer. “This will change, baby girl, I will make it change,” she wrote. “I will fight for these other kids so that no other mom has to buckle in the ashes of their babies.”
Like so many of Ellie’s Facebook followers — and the thousands of people who have liked and shared the post — we are sending Sarah Walton and her family our deepest condolences and wishes for healing during this time. And to little Ellie: As your mom would say, rest in the sweetest peace, baby girl.