Sunday, August 2, 2009

Well, Elena’s celebration was pretty incredible.

To start with there well over 300 people who attended. The church was filled with family and friends, neighbors and some of Elena’s care givers. This support meant more to us than we could ever express.

Elena’s boyfriend Mike, who is a professional musician, sang two beautiful songs and gave a eulogy that ensured there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Mike’s Dad also revealed just how much she meant to their entire family. Two of Elena’s best buds, Heather and Jeanette, shared special thoughts and memories with us. Pastor “Pete” shared a wonderful message and throughout it all a multi-media presentation prepared by her Stepfather “Vinnie” moved everyone with a glimpse of Elena’s life through pictures, songs and video.

We ended with a meal graciously provided by my friends.

In a few weeks we will close this blog down but not until we create a record of all of your messages. For those that know me, you frequently laugh at my discomfort with all of this technology. That said I can tell you that while this was begun as an easy way to keep everyone updated it became much more. It became a place where we could share our hopes, fears and finally our despair. It also became a place for each of you to pass along your thoughts and memories.

In closing we would encourage all of you to make one last comment. We are comforted by your words and it means a great deal to us. We will make a final post that will include a link so that each of you can view this wonderful media tribute prepared by Vinnie.

Even though we allowed an autopsy to be preformed on Elena it is highly unlikely that we will ever know specifically what took her away from us. What we do know is that these severe upper respiratory illnesses are happening more frequently and most often to people less than 40 years of age. It was reported last week that while pregnant women only represent 1% of the total population they represent 6% of those that are infected and many of these women are giving birth to children who will never know their mothers.

In speaking with Elena’s Doctors her symptoms were parallel with the H1-N1 (Swine Flu) virus even though she did not test positive for this. We are also told that this false negative is not unusual once treatment has begun since many of the medicines tend to mask these tests. It is our hope that through her examinations and treatments some piece of the puzzle will be found that will help to prevent other families from suffering through what we have been forced to endure.

If you want to know more about these confounding illnesses that are affecting so many people please visit ARDSUSA.org

Thank you all for your love and support.

With deepest regards,

The Walters Family and Friends

30 comments:

  1. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the celebration of Elena's life. However, Friday was a day when I reflected a lot on her and her impact on my life. Thank you for keeping this site so we could have the updates of our friend and also with the tribute to be posted.

    Your daughter was special and we love her dearly.

    May peace find you in this time.

    Jen Russell

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  2. Thank you so much for posting the celebration of your Elena for those of us who could not attend. To all of Elena's family and friends we offer our most heartfelt sympathy and condolence. The brightest light of your family is shining brightly in heaven.

    Marilyn and Lee Leymon

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  3. cleveland harrityAugust 2, 2009 at 6:01 PM

    Dear Walters family. I was able to attend the celebration of Elena's life, it was Beautiful. She was and always will be the light of many many peoples life's. She will never be forgotten.
    May peace, Love and Prayer keep the family strong threw hard time's.
    Cleveland Harrity

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  4. To Elena's family. Although we did not meet Elena in person, we felt very connected to the family through our relationship with Laura, Melissa and Rita and we never stopped praying throughout the entire time. However we do not know God's plans and only He knows what's best for all of us. Our sympathy and prayers are with the family. Much regards.
    Jeff & Veronica Thomas, Carrollton, Texas

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  5. I went to the beautiful service Elena's family prepared and I have to show my admiration for her family to be able to go through these hard times with such grace and openess. I want to thank you for letting Elena's friends, share these moments with you.
    I also wanted to share something about her. Elena and I were the newbies at the Mega insurance agency last year and we were part of the same team. I left the agency in October and later Elena sent me an email to let me know about this great charity called Baking Gals, created to send baked goods to our troops overseas for the Holidays. I exchanged a few emails with Elena and I joined her team.
    This April I received a friend request and a message on my Facebook from someone I don't know. Her name is Nicky Bunting. She reached out to me to thank me for the cookies I had sent to her husband for Christmas and she told me how wonderful he felt when he got the package, she also told me that her husband had died in February and she was expecting their second baby. I never knew that this small gesture would actually be appreciated so much and thanks to Elena I was able to make someone happy at war. This experience has changed me profoundly as I marvel at the unknown power of small things... you never know who will you impact in life and Elena was the one who began to spin the wheels for me to have this experience and I'm forever grateful for that

    Thank you Elena

    Rosana Greco

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  6. We went to the incredible service that celebrated Elena's life. It was so wonderful seeing all the people there that Elena has touched. Our prayers are to her family & all that knew and loved her to have the strength to move forward, smile when she's in your thoughts, and know that one day you will meet her in heaven. We Love You Elena !

    Cheryl & Dan Kittle

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  7. It's even more so confirmed now that only the good die young. I knew Elena from work and she was a special person. All those that worked with her always enjoyed her company and there was never a dull moment. She was so very young and seeing her personality develop and watching her grow up was at times heartbreaking. She would always put others first before herself and I noticed this a lot. She was always making others comfort come before hers. There are not many people like that. God has better plans for her than this cruel world. May she be at peace now and forever we will remember her and her kind spirit. Elena has a beautiful soul and we know she will be taken care of in heaven.

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  8. We were able to attend the celebration and it was absolutley beautiful, just as she would have wanted. We continued celebrating with a few close friends at Elena's favorite spot...Murphy's Law at Hardrock. It was wonderful to see the people that love and care for her get together and celebrate her life. Her love was able to bring everyone together and I know she is smiling down on us all today. We love you Elena.
    Andrea & Matt

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  10. I used to work with Elena and she was one of the most wonderful and sweet people to be around. Made your day better if you weren't have a good one just by talking with her. My girlfriend and I knew her and want to express how much we both miss her and think of her.
    The ceremony was beautiful and Mike said the most beautiful and loving things for Elena. We wish everyone in the families our thoughts, condolences, and love. Thank you Elena for being in our lives and our friend, we love you.

    Zach & Lea

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  11. We all celebrated the life of an extraordinary girl on Friday, July 31, 2009. The service was beautiful, just as she was, on the inside and out. Elena and I became fast friends. As we all know, she is so easy to love. It is quite rare and special these days to connect so quickly with someone, and feel as if you've known them forever. I feel blessed to have had that with Elena. We were just getting started. Words cannot express how much I will miss her. She will always hold a special place in my heart. She was truly an inspiration and made quite an impact on me. For that, I'm grateful. Shine on sweet angel!! I'll see you in heaven :) xoxo

    I want to thank Elena's family for allowing us all on the inside. I truly felt every emotion along with you, with each updated post. I'm thinking of you and keeping you in my prayers.

    A huge thanks to Mike as well for the updates and taking us along with him. Most of all, for being so brave and for loving Elena more than life itself.

    My deepest condolences and heartfelt sympathy,
    Rachelle Stella

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  12. Although I kept this blog open on my browser all day and hit refresh every 15 minutes, this is my only comment. Words are hard to find at a time like this, and even when Carissa and I were singing to Elena in the hospital, we couldn’t remember all the words the songs that we know by heart. Your brain turns to mush when it tries to comprehend the incomprehensible and inexplicable. So with saying that, I decided to post a copy of the “speech” I have on notebook paper that I stuck in a frame of a picture of US. (I thank God for the courage and calmness he gave me, and I thank him for sending Ryan up there with me to catch me if I fell.) ::

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  13. Elena,I know you may be the only one who finds this amusing, but I know we can both agree that our friendship might be classified under the “Dysfunctional” category. How many times have we cried together, and purposely added to one another’s hysterics, escalating our sorrow, (if you could label it that), because our definition of sorrow was brought on by the MOST trivial of incidents. I mean – WE WERE RIDICULOUS. However, of all of those “hormonal emergencies”, can you even remember just one that did not conclude with uncontrollable laughter and end in one of the most fun and or hilarious of times?

    I remember after Carissa left us alone – we freaked. We then began going through a series of what they call “random roommates” – Many who were strange and let’s just call them “quirky”. When we finally achieved a place of our own we jumped up and down like McCauley Culkin on Home Alone, yelling, “We’re Living Alone!!, We’re Living Alone!!” We became very excited to know that we could blast Billy Joel’s greatest hits at all hours of the night, while sharing a bottle of wine and cooking something outrageous and gourmet, (Pouring a little wine in the sauce as we sang). Remember how you’d make me sit on your bed and talk to you just so you could clean your room – even though you would be watching Food Network on the TV behind me?

    You went from acquaintance to roommate to friend to best friend to sister to My Entire World.

    I even loved when you would scold me for being ridiculous and tell me to snap out of it when I’d get hysterical for something stupid – You were even my mother away from home. Imagine that you, Elena, we mine and Carissa’s voice of reason.

    I still laugh when I make “that face” and am being awkward as you would call me. You told me you loved how my occasional lack of social skills would show all over my expression when a situation or place or person felt “just not quite right”. Not you though, you were the chameleon. You would, not only fit in perfectly to every place we went and with every crowd we met, but you would be the center of light and laughter wherever we were. With so much confidence and a knack for pulling me right along, I was no longer afraid to be in any situation or place. My new fear became going anywhere without you. I believe every new friend I have met since I met you, I met because of you. I can say with utter confidence that you are the only person and may be the only person I will ever know that can make most people fall in love with you in minutes.
    On such a tragic and confusing day – I feel dizzy – and every little thing looks so different without you here. This is even one of those social situations I mentioned earlier that I would be too afraid to attend without you holding my hand.

    But even today, I have smiled many times, because I can’t help but feel so privileged to know that I have seen every piece of your enormous heart and am so lucky to have known you so deeply that I will never be the same.

    ELENA:
    I love you with all my heart and soul. Thank you so much for all the love, laughter, and intense friendship which can never be replaced.

    I know I am not the only one here who can say that you have Forever changed me – not just during our time together – but who I am right now and who I will be tomorrow.

    Thank you for it all.
    Love always,
    Duh-nutt”

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  14. I am Jeanette's Aunt; I was able to attend Elena's service and I found it to be sad, funny and inspirational.

    I laughed and cried, I laughed because she was so funny, the stories were great and sounded just like Elena. I remember when I met her, I said to Jeanette, "Where did you find her, she is hilarious?!" Elena and I were born the same day, September 11th, and we would just brag about Virgo's :)

    The interesting thing is, I cried because I wasn't for one minute worried about Elena or sad for her in any way! I cried because I was sad for your family and I felt your pain so much.

    I guess what we need to understand is, the pain is "us"! We want Elena here with us but we have to think about how happy Elena is right now and not how happy we would be with her here. I think realizing this, is what helps and gives me a sense of peace and understanding that she really is okay and I really know that. I hope this helps you as well.

    Ron, Elena bragged about you and always know that you were an amazing Dad to her. Most parents in your position will think back and say, "maybe I should have done this, maybe I should have said this, or shouldn't have said this, etc..." You were perfect to her, absolutely perfect in her eyes; always remember that!

    Every time I think of Elena, as sad as I feel because she is not here with us physically, I can't help but see that smile on her face; I don't think I've ever seen her without it and so that sadness that I feel, immediately turns to a chuckle. I just laugh and I can't help it. Elena, thank you for that!

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  15. I was unable to attend the celebration of Elena's life. Elena will always be remembered as a beautiful, young, amazing woman. I am sorry for your loss and hope that knowing Elena is watching over you and your family brings some sort of comfort and peace. She was a dear soul and I think of her often.

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  16. I did not know Elena. I do not know your family. I do know how unbelieveable shaken and torn you all must feel. I am currently a bride-to-be and heard your story through Melissa on The Knot message board. Elena has touched so many, even those she did not know. May the Lord continue to bless you and your family and hold Elena in the palm of his hand. Thank you for your wisdome and awareness you brought to others. Elena lives on!

    - Christine

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  17. I have so many memories of Elena. We were cousins and our families always made sure we all grew up together. I remember the first time I met her she was a toddler. She got a hair brush stuck in her hair because she was playing around with it. One of my fondest memories is when we were all together at Momma Dot and Daddy George's house in Miami for Thanks Giving and Laura, Melissa, Elena, and I decided to cover ourselves in baby powder in Momma Dot's "pink" bathroom. We wanted to be ghosts. Needless to say Momma Dot wasn't very happy. Elena and I were always the "trouble makers." I use that term loosely because I always like to say we were just "busy." We were the ones always causing havoc and doing silly things. Usually that resulted in us getting in trouble but I am sure she would agree that it was well worth it:) She lived life to the fullest and I don't think anyone would be angry about that knowing now what little time she had to do that. I will miss her so much.

    I am sad that we won't get to cause anymore trouble together but I am also glad that she is no longer in pain and her beautiful body is no longer being abused with all the medical procedures and treatments. I say that with some certainty. There is still a part of me that is selfish and wished they could have done more to keep her here with us. My family will never be the same and we will always have a void in our hearts. I love you guys so much and know we will always keep her memory alive.

    I have a happy place in my heart knowing that Momma Dot left us just in time so that the two people who were the pinnacle of our family could be there to guide Elena into Heavan. She is up there with them right now smiling down on us and reaching out to us. She will always be there to help guide us in whatever life throws our way. I feel better knowing I have Elena, Momma Dot, and Daddy George on our side up there. We are truly a blessed family to have had them in our lives and to now have them shinning down on us.

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  18. Dear Ron, Mary, Frankie and the rest of Elena's family:

    We just want to express our deepest sympathy once again. The tribute to Elena on Friday, as well as the messages contained on her blog exemplify how many lives she has touched. Please take comfort in knowing that her "light" (as you called it, Ron), will always continue to shine in your memories of her.


    We were deeply moved by the struggle your family has endured this past month, and we have been keeping you in our prayers. May God continue to give you strength in the days to come.

    God Bless you all......Alan and Kathy and the entire Webb family

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  19. I did not know Elena, but I felt I should write. I just returned from the funeral of my 52 year old cousin Fran, who was in a hospital in New Jersey for 8 weeks before she died. Elena and my cousin shared many of the same symptoms and most likely died from the same illness. I learned about Elena from Mike's sister, Heather. My cousin's sister and mother were closely following Elena's story and praying for her recovery as well as for Fran's. I just wanted to let you know how deeply saddened my family was to learn of Elena's passing and that we thought about her often these past few days. My deepest sympathies to your family.

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  20. I came to learn of Elena's situation early on through a mutual friend and although I did not know her personally, I followed this caring blog through the news of her ups and downs and prayed everyday for her to recover. I think what so touched me without even knowing her, was that Elena seemed like the cool girl next door, that you'd be best friends with and a true joy to be around. The stories that her friends and sister shared were funny, touching and easy to relate to. I bet she was the life of the party that got everyone dancing and laughing.

    It has been moving and inspiring to see such an outpouring of care by from the family toward her friends during the family's difficult time, they really must be commended for caring about getting the updates out to friends and family through this blog. I have no doubt that they thought of their daughter's wishes throughout their pain. Bravo to them.

    And on that note, I'm so sorry that this beautiful young woman was not able to come home to the family, friends and boyfriend that so deeply loved her. It's clear to see that she has touched so many lives, even complete strangers to her. We all know that Elena is in a wonderful place now and looking after her family who so tirelessly looked after her. In our heart of hearts we know that you will all be reunited again someday and what a wonderful day that will be.

    God bless you all.

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  21. Elena,
    It's hard to believe that just 10 years ago we didn't know each other. During those short 10 years we spent so much time together that you went from unknown neighbor, to friend, from friend to confidant, and finally to Sister. You were always there for me; whether we were just hanging at the house or being my wing-woman while we were out partying. I once said after an afternoon at the mall watching you try to find a new pair shoes, trying on every pair in the entire mall, that I would never do that again, but now today all I can think about is how I would give anything to have the chance to spend that time with you again.

    I do not normally believe in an after-life, but now that I, we, the world has lost you way at this early age I find myself hoping and dreaming that I am wrong so as I may be able to one day give you a hug again and sit talk like the old days. I look forward to hearing about all your experiences in heaven and expect you to introduce me to all of your friends up there one day of which I’m sure you already have many.
    Until that day I remember and think about you every day of my life.

    I love you and miss you very much,

    Ryan J.

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  22. Dear Ron and Mary,
    Thank you for sharing Elena with us. She was a bright light in all of our lives and her memory will continue to shine on with all of us.

    As Elena became a close friend and finally a sister to Ryan, she also became another child in our family. We loved her and cared for her as if she was ours. Each of us has been reliving all of the wonderful times that we had with her. There were so many...

    Every time a Billy Joel song is played, I think of Elena dancing and singing...The best of times.

    She is loved.

    Pat J

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  23. Dear Elena,
    I cannot believe you are gone. Not a day goes by that you are not in my thoughts. Through work we became friends, but it was not just friends from work, a real true friend. You and I shared some of our deepest thoughts and crazy times together, I will miss that. You were one-a-kind, beautiful, smart, ecletic, and caring. Those are just a few words to describe you. Who ever met you fell in love with you. I cannot wait till we meet again. You will forever be alive in my heart and all the crazy memories we shared. I MISS YOU!!!

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  24. To the Walters,

    Im so glad I was able to be there, to have experienced at least the energy and legacy of the incredible life of Elena. She was as beautiful a daughter as any man could ever have Ron, and only God can give you the strength to get to the other side of this.

    If I may humbly suggest: someone told me shortly after my darling Eugenia passed last year, to "Not to hold on too tight, but dont let go too soon either."

    Take your time letting go. I bring this up because one of the things I did was to make a memorial page for her on MySpace (search Eugenia Gracer) where I put her favorite songs, tons of wacky fun photos, profiled her life, and opened it up to selected friends where they could share thier own comments as you are now saving from this blog. Everyone will grieve for Elena in their own way, and perhaps leaving an opening where her friends and family can let go of her a little at a time...Just my thoughts.

    Eugenia's MySpace Page is a place where I can go to reflect, and continue to write my own feelings. I dont have to, but its there if I choose to.

    My warmest heartfelt love and sympathy to you Ron, and family. Be well. God speed.

    Greg Gracer.

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  25. To Michael:

    I met you at "Layna's" service, Im the drummer. We spoke breifly about music and I reminded you of something you said publicly to her from the platform. You hoped that someday she would be proud of you, I told you that it was "Today."

    With all of the people walking this planet at the same time, I have to believe that those we become intimately connected to, are part of God's plan for us to learn something from them.

    In relationships such as the one you were gifted to have with Elena, there is no question that she was here to teach you some very incredible lessons for your own spiritual growth.

    Fom one musician to another, sometimes you cant hear the intricate details of a song untill after it stops playing, then the highlights of that song roll on in your head...As it is with yours and Elenas experience on earth together...listen to that song now...get the notes down hard and remember the lessons in love and life that were part of Gods gift to you in that beautiful song.

    Love to you brother. May God grant you healing, and peace and an eternal peaceful memory of that incredible chapter in your life.

    Greg Gracer

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  26. Kathy Knowles ~ Chris Clemons' MomAugust 12, 2009 at 10:55 AM

    Dear Ron, Mary and Melissa,

    Thank you for sharing so much of Elena's journey. Although this is the first time I've commented to the blog, I have been praying and sending energy to you all along. I've known Elena since she was in high school and I loved her from the first moment I met her. I've always felt she was an angel on earth now she's an angel in the heavens.

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  27. To all that knew and loved Elena,
    Although I never met Elena, I came to feel a connection through this blog. I am a friend and former co-worker of Maria Romeu, Mike's mom. I followed this blog and prayed for her daily, together with so many others. Unfortunately, as hard as it is to understand, her recover was not in God's plan. I attended Elena's memorial service and as Ron, her dad, stated, it was "pretty incredible". I want all her family and loved ones to know that they have my deepest sympathy. Her life, although too short, touched many lives, those who knew her and those who did not.
    Linda Maldonado

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  28. I have been trying to find words to respond to this since the day it was posted, and unfortunately, I remain speechless today. All I can say is that I feel blessed to have shared but a couple of years in Elena's life and know she will forever be in mine.

    "Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Others stay for awhile, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never the same."

    I love you and miss you, Elena. Thank you for the instant friendship you gave me and the sense of belonging you enveloped me with. There is no one in this world quite like you, and I am forever changed by the happy go-lucky, beautiful girl who walked into my life on January 18, 2007.

    "Sunny days seem to hurt the most, I wear the pain like a heavy coat. The only thing that gives me hope is I know, I'll see you again some day." - Kenny Chesney "Who You'd Be Today"

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  29. To the Walter family: this is Hubert the bed guy from the RotoProne. I am sorry I was not able to be at the services for Elena. I kept checking on her even after she was taken of the bed. I felt like she was family. Very special lady. On July 20 I was sent to Texas for training for three weeks. I tryed a couple ot times to get information from the hospital about her and because I was not a family member I would not get any. I did not returned from Texas until Aug.6th I went to the Hospital to see how she was doing and was told the news. I am so sorry I wish I would have done more. I had no way of finding you until some one send an email with this blong to our company. I know that Elena is happy where she is at now and wants all of us to be happy too.
    Some day we will all be together again as friends and family. If there is anything I can do for you please let me know. 305 987 9206. I am sorry but this is the only way I have to comunicate with you. My paryers are with you. Hubert H.

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