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Before Ellie died, I took my son to his baseball hitting lesson. We really liked the instructor. I was just being friendly and asked him “How many kids do you have?” He informed me that he had two sons, but one had committed suicide several years before. I remember being shocked and at a complete loss as to what to do or say. I think I probably looked very uncomfortable, and I was. I don’t remember exactly what happened, but I probably changed the subject, and I would bet that I didn’t offer up very much in the way of comfort. Before Ellie died, I was afraid of death, pain, suffering. I didn’t want to experience any of those things for myself and it was scary to see in other people. I didn’t know what to say, how to feel, what to do, and the easiest thing was to avoid thinking about it. Sadly, I had never been to a funeral before Ellie’s. Before Ellie died, I didn’t appreciate taking Ellie to the costume jewelry store or playing with her dolls. I enjoyed our bedtime routine of reading and snuggling, but I always wanted to leave before she wanted me to. I had things to do. What was so important? Well, things change. After losing six-year-old Ellie, I have learned a few things. I give people the benefit of the doubt, and assume that they care, even if it doesn’t seem like it. The fact is that unless you’ve experienced […]

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It was a wonderful day when I married my college sweetheart. He was everything I wanted in a husband; handsome, athletic, good sense of humor, committed Christian, etc. He was a school teacher and tennis coach, who loved to make others laugh, and so people were drawn to him and his magnetic personality. We became Youth Group leaders at our local church and spent lots of time with high school students. Eventually we started a family and God blessed us with 2 little girls. My first husband Rick and the girls May 27, 1989, started out as any another Saturday when we awoke and had breakfast with our girls. Megan was 3 and Kristin was just 9 months old. My husband, Rick, grabbed a piece of strawberry pie before heading out the door. He and one of the students from our Youth Group were going to do some painting on the church exterior. It wasn’t long until a storm was brewing on the horizon and I knew Rick would be on his way home. Suddenly there was a knock at the door and as I opened it, I was surprised to see a police officer standing there who said he had some unfortunate news to share. He proceeded to tell me there was an accident at the church, something about aluminum ladders getting too close to power lines and that two people were electrocuted. One of the people was identified by my minister as Rick, and the other was the […]

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We all have a path that brings us to this moment. I’d like to share my story, the ups and downs, what God has done in my life, and a few things I’ve learned along the way. Growing Up I was born in Japan, a military brat. I was named Todd Murdock Nigro. I’ve always wondered where “Murdock” came from. I’ve never heard a good explanation. But, I think it’s pretty cool now. My wife says it’s “distinguished”, I’m not sure what that means, but I’ll take it as a compliment. Sadly, my parent’s marriage did not work out. My mother did her best to raise three children. We didn’t have much and my mother worked most of the time, so I was pretty much on my own from a very young age. I grew up mostly in Utah in a non-religious family in a predominately Mormon environment. I learned that it was okay to not fit in, because we didn’t. My relationship with my mother was always difficult. She would always want to talk, yell, or lecture us whenever we were with her. I get it now. She had no one but us. My older sister and little brother would gladly let me do all the talking and so I did. I felt the brunt of my mother’s instability. She had come from a very difficult home. Both of her parents were alcoholics and she was the youngest of three. I can only imagine the lack of love, abuse, […]

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Ellie’s T-Ball Coach by Todd Nigro I was in line at a restaurant. The man behind me looked familiar, but he would not look my way. He was busy ordering and I considered just not engaging in any conversation. But, then there was a delay at the register, and I thought why not just go for it. I said, “weren’t you a T-ball coach?” He replied, “Yes, years ago”. I asked him about his kids and he informed me about his new twins and other kids. He asked me about my kids, and I told him I had three, two boys and a little girl in heaven. I said, “I think you were her T-ball coach”. Tears welled up in his eyes and I could see the pain in his face. He told me that of course he remembered Ellie and our family. He was so afraid to say anything. He told me that they cried and cried when she died in January and wanted me to know that they sent a card. I told him “thank you, and that it is okay — this has been hard for everyone”. I was fine, but this man was crying right there. I felt good that I could ease his burden, and that he remembered Ellie so fondly. I guess people do look the other way. They are afraid and also in lots of pain. The conversation continued and brought back a bunch of great T-ball memories. I left uplifted and motivated […]

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Dreaming of Ellie by Todd Nigro I was talking with Kristen one night about how much I missed Ellie’s hugs. She always came running to me when I came home and wrapped her arms around me and just squeezed for a few moments. She knew how to hug me and I absolutely loved it. At night, when I was putting her to sleep, I would snuggle next to her. She always wanted me to read a book to her, followed by some cuddling, and then I would usually try to leave as I usually had something else to do. She would give me the cutest little kisses. They were little pecks, but I could tell she was really trying to express her love with her kiss. It was just precious. One of my tricks to exit each night was to get the stuffed horse, who I always jokingly called “Donkey”, to lie down next to Ellie. It was a big horse and she would always smile and just say “Daaaaad, it’s a horse!” I would wrap the horse’s legs around her and the last leg I would kind of clamp down on her tightly. She loved that. Then, she always wanted me to be nearby in the office while she went to sleep. One morning the dogs woke us up around 5am and by the time I got dressed to take them out, Kristen was already outside with them. We went back to bed. I fell back asleep and had […]

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Larry the Cable Guy by Todd Nigro About a week after our six-year-old Ellie died, I was outside with Kristen and a friend. Our dog Maverick was barking at a man up the street in a neighbor’s yard. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful day. We don’t have a fence for Maverick and he slowly wandered up our driveway. He kept barking obnoxiously and moving closer to the man. I had no choice but to try to get Maverick and stop him. As we got close to the man, he began talking to Maverick and to me. He said how much he liked daschunds and how he had owned several in the past. I kept getting closer and Maverick eventually walked behind me and would let out a random bark every now and then. The man introduced himself “Hi, I’m Larry”. He was digging a trench for the cable. Obviously, he worked outside all day long and he looked like it. In the past, I would have judged his appearance. But, I seemed to have a different view. I saw a man who wanted to share and needed to talk. I made a point to just listen. He talked more and more. He told a story about a dog that bit his brother. He respected dogs and was careful with them. He pulled up his shirtsleeve and showed me a scar where a dog had bit him. Then, he said, “What if I was a little kid […]

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Ellie’s Last Sticky Note by Todd Nigro Six-year-old Ellie was always watching people. One day, she noticed that I was leaving encouraging sticky notes around the house for Mommy. She informed me “Daddy, where is my note?” She was irresistible! I began to write her notes and leave them where she would find them. I always wrote her one because it made her so happy (even if Mommy didn’t get one sometimes). Ellie learned and wanted to give back. She began to write notes and cards to everyone. She took it to a whole new level! Her nice words are on all the neighbors’ refrigerators and were delivered to her swim team coaches. She always had time to write a nice note. One day last year, I came home for lunch. Just before I left, I was walking out of the garage to my car and I saw Ellie run across the driveway as fast as she could. She darted around the back of the house. I walked up to the car and saw her last sticky note to me. It touched my heart and I put it over the tachometer, and that is where it was for the last few days I had with her. Ellie was killed in a tragic accident. What a wonderful memory for me. I love you too, princess, you are the best daughter ever!

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I was finally getting around to cleaning up my desk, and I found a piece of paper. It was a “To Do List” that I wrote presumably in early January 2012, just before Ellie passed away. The items on the list relate to buying Ellie’s cello, setting up the kids swim meet, and getting the address to pay Nathan (Ellie’s cello teacher). Ellie must have seen the list, and she added an important item at the end.   I feel like she’s still loving me today when I find these treasures. Ellie and Dad

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