Cory and I hadn't been dating very long when I met his family. It was their yearly Ellis Family Reunion, and it was being held in Heber City - about an hour from my family's home in Orem. So Cory came to spend the 4th of July weekend with me and my family, and we headed up to the reunion with his family for part of that weekend. Now Cory and I had only known each other for a little over a month, and most of that time had been spent with him in Idaho, and me in Orem. So the idea of a huge extended family totally intimidated me. To add to my nervousness, Cory had only been home from his mission for a little over a month and this would be the first time he'd see his extended family in over 2 years! So I remember literally shaking with fear when we walked into Aunt Lynette's back yard to meet everyone.
We walked into the backyard that afternoon and Cory introduced me to a couple of people and walked away. He left me! Fear came rushing to me and I thought I might actually die right there with all of his family watching me! But know what? Within moments I was a part of the family. I wasn't just the girl Cory brought, but I was welcomed with loving hearts and welcome hearts. I knew by the end of that afternoon that if I didn't marry Cory, I would have to marry a brother or cousin because I had to be a part of the Ellis family! Every aunt, uncle, his grandparents - everyone hugged me, asked me all about myself, were genuine and interested in me. And they made me feel a part of the family, something I'd never felt outside of my own family.
The reason I bring this all up is that yesterday morning we received a call from Cory's mom to tell us that his Aunt Margo had passed away in the night. This was totally unexpected and devestating. When Cory told me what his mom has reported to him I kept saying, "Margo, as in Aunt Margo? Aunt Margo Sears?" It just didn't seem possible that someone so young could be taken from us with literally no warning. Thinking of her family, children, husband - everyone whose life she touched, and all that we would miss out by not having her in our lives broke my heart.
But then I was reminded of something. The reason that I was drawn to Cory's family in the first place - the plan of salvation, the gospel, and the idea of families being sealed together forever in the temple. The Ellis family lives these principles, and through his Grandparent's example they really are creating families that will be together even after this life. Grandma and Grandpa's example of temple service and devotion to the gospel has created an extended family whose love will last even beyond life on this earth.
So while this time is sad for those who love Aunt Margo, it is reassuring that we have our beliefs and can be assured that we will see her again, and that really we never have to say goodbye to our loved ones forever. This is something I am so grateful for! So thank you Ellis family for welcoming me with loving arms, and thank you for sharing Aunt Margo with me for the short time we had. Her vibrance and excitement for life will always be with me!
(The Merthen and Vonnie Ellis Family - 7 children and their spouses. Photo taken July 2006)
(Aunt Margo with her typical smile - she really has always had a fabulous smile on her face, and really a wonderful attitude in her heart!)