November 9th, 1994: It was a stormy 4am as David and I pulled into the dark parking lot of Mercy Hospital in Redding, California. My husband scored a parking space by the front door, and I huffed and puffed as I tried to heave my massive belly out of the car. As I stood up, I realized I was a bit more off balance than usual. The wind was blowing pretty hard, but that couldn't be it. I looked down. I had 2 different shoes on my feet. One was my favorite tennis shoe, and the other was.....my husband's. Now you have to realize how much bigger David's feet are than mine to appreciate the way I laughed hysterically at that moment. In fact, I howled as I flopped all the way through the lobby, up the elevator to the third floor and all the way through the hospital construction zone to the maternity ward. 3 hours later I met my youngest son, Ellis MacKay Benton. He was perfect, except for one thing; he was blue. Born 6 weeks early, my little guy's lungs weren't developed yet. Did I mention he was 9 pounds, 3 ounces?! Even through the scariness of it all, it made me smile to see my big boy amongst all the tiny ones. Ellis lived in the NICU for a few weeks until one day he decided to spit out the ventilator and breathe on his own. He was ready to go home to meet his brothers.
As soon as Ellis came through the door, our lives were different. There were nights we left the TV off and the four of us just sat around and watched him. He has always had the knack of entertaining us, even when things were stressful.
Today Ellis is a bright spot in my every day life. Sometimes I just lay in bed and listen to him play his guitar late at night. And if you've ever seen the boy play the drums, you know that he pounds them like he lives his life. To watch him up on stage is one of the great joys of my life. He is quick-witted, tender-hearted and passionate. Last summer he took a trip to Guatemala without us. I worried, but he came back with a new discovery; Ellis loves to travel. He is full of adventure. He's a hard worker and has a fierce love for his family.

What else can I say but this: Ellis, I loved you before I met you. You are one of the great joys of my life; an overwhelming gift from God. In fact, your name means "My God is Jehovah." May you never forget. And may this be the happiest of days. I love you more than my own life. Love, Mommy


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