Ellie Smiles

On November 6, 2010, my eight year old daughter, Eleanor Finola Murphy, died.

How do you move on?
Those early days after her death were a fog.
My husband was the one who did everything.
I was useless.
He organized her wake, funeral and burial. He asked
people for help with cleaning up our home, and he
documented Ellie’s journey through her sickness.

I was just her mom; that was my job.

I am Katherine’s mom, too.
So, I got up each day.
I saw her off to school and walked my dog.
And cried.

We talked about Ellie all the time.
We cried.
We tried to live a life without Ellie.
We cried.
We went to counseling. Not so great.
We cried.
We went on vacations.
Good to be together; sad to be without Ellie.
It’s a “we” because I couldn’t have gotten through any of this
without my husband and daughter.

A new family of three instead of four.

I kept on getting up each day.

I wasn’t prepared for how people reacted to me.
I couldn’t go work out. People stared at me, asked me
how I was able to go on with my life?!? I couldn’t believe

So, I got up each day, saw Katherine off to school,
walked my dog.
And cried.
Being outside helped me. I could walk and cry, and my
dog didn’t care.
I was lucky to have many photo albums to keep me busy
and see Ellie’s face every day.
I didn’t think I had the tears in me, but they kept on

Slowly, I was able to find things that made me happy.
I began finding my smiles.
Maybe Ellie sent them to me, maybe I needed to find
some happiness, but they came at me everywhere.
I saw smiles in leaves, sticks, stones and sky. I took
pictures of the smile and compiled them into books to
share with family and friends.
I had a different outlook on life.
I didn’t get mad as quickly as I used to.

The person who cut me off in traffic,
maybe they were having a horrible day.
The impatient lady behind me in the grocery store,
maybe she was late to an important appointment.

I needed to be happy again.

Little by little, I made it through the rough days.
Finding smiles on the darkest days.
People started sharing their smiles with me!!
I was happy that I could help people find their smiles.

One of my favorite quotes on grief:
“It has been said that time heals all wounds. I don’t agree.
The wounds remain. Time — the mind, protecting its
sanity — covers them with some scar tissue, and the pain
lessens, but it is never gone.
~Rose Kennedy

I am still finding my Ellie smiles. She is never far from my mind.

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