Many thanks to everyone who attended Ella's memorial service, or sent their condolences.
The program for the service is available here.
Here are the texts of (most of) the speaker's remarks:
Denise Brown, director of the Montclair High School Dance Company where Ella danced all through High School, dedicated this year's performance to Ella - see the dedication in the program.
The Macalester Theatre and Dance Department Spring Concert Program also dedicated the performance to Ella, and donated proceeds to her fund.
Today we're here to celebrate the life of my remarkable Ella. You'll hear of her talents, accomplishments and beauty, her love of her friends and family and her hopes and dreams for the future. But to me she was my daughter, my best friend, my sister, my inspiration, my partner at the ballet and at art shows, my cooking companion, my teacher of all of her discoveries, my movie critic, my political conversant, my pop culture and fashion consultant, my curly hair coach. She was my connection to the larger world and its injustices. From the time she was a baby I would always say, being with Ella is intoxicating. She had a pure spirit and sense of joy that filled me with light.
Like every parent I wondered how I would love any child as much as my first born Ian. There is no one smarter, or more generous than Ian. He is the most open, wise, funny, talented and compassionate person I know. His easy going temperament and independence made us feel like good parents. Since he was born, for the whole family, Ian has been our center, our moral compass. Through this tragedy he has been our rock.
When Ella came along, her quirks and needs brought our lives to a halt. She was frequently sick, wouldn't sit in a stroller or a car seat, she refused to go to strangers and she was on her own timetable for everything. She slept more than any other child but wouldn't nap anywhere except her own crib, she didn't walk until 18 months, she refused to wear socks even in the dead of winter, she wore the same purple jumper every day for 2 years, and from the earliest age she would criticize anyone who wore sweat pants. As a baby and toddler she relied on us to make the space for her naps, attend to her continual respiratory infections, and protect her against the onslaught of people in the world that overwhelmed her. She was a quiet, introverted girl and clung to me for safety. But we had so much fun together. She amazed us everyday with her curiosity and focus. She was interested in everything and only wanted to explore the world within the safety net of her family and her best friend through toddlerhood, Parker.
Ella's shyness brought her a sense of pain that drew her closer to me, even as she started to develop friendships in middle school with Lindsey, Caroline and Gabby Styles. We used to lie on her bed at night reading the book Conquering Shyness. We practiced having conversations and making small talk. She asked me to help her develop a sense of humor. She had an innocence and inability to process mean girl behavior so we spent hours dissecting the meaning of human encounters. But all the while she relied on her joy of learning and in her talent in the arts. She loved her art, dance and music and took after her grandfather, my dad, in becoming a true renaissance woman. Throughout her life, we marveled at her talents every day.
In high school she added science to her list of interests but found her place in the high school dance company where she finally met her soul mate friends, Gaby, Jessi and Lilah along with Alyson and her childhood friends, Sarah and Julia. I remember as a freshman she felt so alone and was convinced no one would ever notice her. One day she started talking about this girl Gaby who she thought would make a good friend but she didn't know how to approach her so we spent hours strategizing how to get Gaby to talk to her. Let me tell you, these are amazing friends. I didn't want to, but I had to let go and share Ella because these were kids I knew I could trust not to hurt my sweet and sensitive girl. They have grown and nurtured each other, shared talents and a respect for humanity. I love them all so much. Their devotion to Ella at the hospital showed a maturity and depth of emotion that was astounding and gave us so much strength. Gaby and Jessi barely left her side and Jessi was her guardian angel for 24 hours when the hospital made us go home to sleep before it was time to finally let her go. Words can't express our gratitude and respect.
When we sent Ella and her abundance of talents, ambitions and social anxieties off to Macalester College, we couldn't imagine how she would manage to give shape to all she wanted to accomplish. But it was a transformative place for her and she loved every minute. She continued to rely on me to interpret the social world but slowly she gained more confidence, made beautiful friendships and was given the freedom and encouragement to explore all of her interests and abilities. In her time there she considered majors in biology and neuroscience but ended up with her double major in studio art and psychology, and she found a strong community in the college dance troupe. She fell in love with research and did volunteer work and internships in the Twin Cities that inspired in her a desire to do something meaningful for the world. She frequently talked about her dream to make a difference, to do something important. She was thrilled to start an internship after college in Dr. Beebe's lab and to learn more about research and mother infant attachment. Just last week she talked to me about how this knowledge would help her be a good parent and she couldn't wait to be a mom one day.
Ella and I had so much in common. She included me in her world, her friendships, her inner life, her love of the arts, her zest for travel and her frustration that there were so many things she wanted to do and she couldn't do everything. She was disappointed she couldn't find that one special guy to love and lamented the fact that she didn't know how to flirt. But she also knew there was someone out there for her and in the mean time there were things to accomplish, dreams to pursue and wonderful friendships.
From the beginning of her life I knew that the only way I could share this amazing daughter with the rest of the world was to make a life for myself. I am fortunate to have a beautiful husband, work that I love and family, friendships and co-workers that sustain me. Ella was proud of my life and my career. She inspired me everyday to learn more, become more skilled and overcome my own insecurities and challenges because she worked so hard herself and had such determination. But always we had our own special world and had to admit to each other — the time we spent together was cherished and meaningful beyond words. We had so many plans for our future as mother and daughter.
Ella was a humble person who avoided attention. I was always so proud of her but she refused to let me brag. If she ever caught me in a brag, I would have hell to pay. As all of her friends have said during this ordeal, Ella would hate this. She would hate being fussed over, stared at, talked about in public and celebrated. She had a quiet charisma that I would point out now and then but she just laughed at me. In a world that celebrates the loud, the aggressive, the competitive and the "me," Ella was a rarity. Her desire to connect with people and express her goals and talents was for personal fulfillment, not for outward attention. Later in the service you will see a short video of a dance piece she choreographed and performed in at Macalester. When she was working on it she asked me whether she should feature herself in the piece. I said, "yes, go for it — it's your artistic vision and you should showcase it." But instead she wanted to feature all the other dancers and make them look good. You'll see, she remains in the background and in typical Ella form, gives everyone else the spotlight.
She loved to express herself through her clothing, always careful to portray the right message, artsie but understated, not flashy, not expensive. She would see beauty in everything, even in her lowest, most anxious moments. She always knew there was something larger than herself. With Ken and Ian, the four of us had many amazing travels together. We delighted in every minute of our trips, sharing our love of food and the local culture, meeting amazing people, making new friends and being in a world unto ourselves for those weeks. Way past the age when most kids want to travel with their parents, Ian and Ella were always up for a trip and we looked forward to so many more travels together.
More than anything, Ella admired and adored her family. She expressed her love to us everyday and although I can't conceive of a future without Ella in our lives, I trust her spirit will console us and teach us how to go on. And I also have my Ian, who shares so many of Ella's unique and beautiful qualities.
In conclusion I just want to read part of a poem that helps convey the depth of this loss for me.
She was my North, my South, my East, My West. My working week and my Sunday rest, My noon, my midnight, my talk my song. I thought that love would last forever; I was wrong.
Ella, you will live forever in the deepest part of my heart and I will rely on you always to guide me in whatever awaits me in life.