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September 21, 1999 - 2000

Elijah Joseph Virago was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at Allegheny General Hospital on Tuesday, September 21, 1999 at 1:04 a.m, after 25 hours of labor.  He was a beautiful, sweet, perfect little baby boy who greatly resembled his mother, Jodie. We went home from the hospital the morning of the 21st, just before noon.

His first night home, as to be expected, the first child to new parents, was a trying one for Jodie and I.  All I remember is trying to assist Jodie with breastfeeding him.  We were both exhausted from the long labor, which started at mindnight on the 19th, and lack of sleep.  Jodie could barely stay awake and I was equally drained and easily frustrated and overwhelmed by the seemingly impossible, yet exceedingly basic task of feeding our newborn son.

The next morning a nurse came to check on Elijah and found he had a slight fever.  We were told to take him to the emergency room since he was just a day old.  We ended up staying in the hospital until Saturday (4 days), before the doctors realized he didn't have meningitis, thank goodness, which was their initial theory.  On Monday, he had his one week check-up and was found to have an ear infection.

In Elijah's first 13 months, he had 8 ear infections.  At that point he got tubes put in his ears.  He had only one more ear infection, then never any more.  He also contracted pneumonia and double pneumonia within his first 15 months of life.  Momma Jodie was known for her lack of immune system and it was clear, she passed that on to Elijah.  Although, he was often sick and Jodie and I became pros at ER visits, Eli was always a trooper.

When Elijah was an infant and toddler, my first word to describe him was always 'active.'  And that he was.  From birth.  I have a picture of him holding up his head during his first hospital stay, not even a week old.  In a room full of children his age, he always stood out.  He was the fastest moving thing in the room.  He was always in motion.  Our primary indicator that Elijah had another ear infection was feeling him and realizing he had a fever.  He never slowed down when he was sick.  His ear infections didn't seem to bother him that much.  Once when his fever soared to 105 degrees, I held him in my arms and he laid his head on my shoulder.  Only severe illness slowed him down, and only temporarily.

He was a very strong baby and developmentally always ahead of the curve.  Looking back on it, it seems that some part of him, perhaps subconciously, was aware that his time on earth was limited, and he had much to accomplish in his short life.  And that he did.  As a baby, you could look at him and see him yearning to be able to do more.  He had an agenda.  He had things to do.  Baby Eli looked restrained by his infant body and he pushed to do more, sooner than we ever expected.  He rolled over at 3.5 months, on New Year's Eve.  He took his first steps at 10.5 months, on August 12th, 2000.

Everyone who ever met him always commented on his bright, intellegent eyes, how handsome he was, and how he looked like 'a little man.'  He looked like a wise old soul.  As he grew into a little boy, that soul was further revealed, and yes, for his age he was very wise.

It did not take him very long at all to master the art of talking!  His first word was 'nana' (for banana) at 10 months.  He quickly picked up more and more words.  I enjoyed making a written list of all the words that he could say.  Some of his first words were:  moomie (movie), mama, ju-ju (judy, for aunt judy), nana (for nana, his grandma), pap-pap (for his pap-pap), cook-cook (for cookie), ju-ju (also for juice), pup pup (for puppy).  Most of his first words were two syllables, both the same.  Super cute.  Each month the list got longer and longer!  By 14 months there were 50 words that he could say!!  The list is packed away, but if I come across it.  I'll definitely post a more complete list.  I stopped keeping a list of all his words when it reached 50 words.  Next, he moved right on to 2 word sentences.  They say walk at 1, talk at 2.  Elijah didn't have that kind of time to waste learning to talk, he had stuff to say!  By the time he was two he spoke in 5 to 10 word sentences. 

 
2001 - 2002

Although, Elijah was born in Pittsburgh.  We moved to Baltimore before he turned 2, in June of '01.

For Elijah, the transition meant starting a new daycare, of course.  We enrolled him in Kiddie Academy (KA) in Towson.  He started out in the 1 yr old room, with the 'babies,' he was almost two. At first, dropping him off was really difficult for him.  He cried and became quite upset every morning for about two weeks.  It took a while, but he finally understood that Mama would be back at the end of the day.  I knew he would take a while to adjust, I was hoping it wouldn't be so long for him.  After his initial transistion period, he became a loyal Kiddie Academite. 

Soon, by the fall, he moved to the two year old classroom, located at the back of the school.  His best friend was another cute little toe-head named Annie.  They moved through classes together and always enjoyed playing together.  They were best buds.  They would give each other hugs and smile when they saw each other.  It was super sweet.  They started out together in the 'ones' class, and stayed together until they were three.

When Elijah was three KA in Towson closed down, so we transferred him to KA in Timonium, which was actually much closer to our home.  He made the transistion to his new KA much easier.   KA provides lunch and a snack every day.  When we first sent Eli to KA in Towson, we sent along a list of what he could and couldn't eat.  He was vegan; so no meat, cheese, eggs, milk, or other animal products.  We even included a list of things like 'jello' which has gelatin, and bread, which has milk.  They did a great job of always feeding him according to his dietary requirements.  When he moved to KA Timonium, however, at the young age of 3, he was a pro at knowing what he could and couldn't eat.  We sent the list again.  But, Eli could speak for himself. He knew what was 'okay' and what wasn't and he could tell you.  He was pretty amazing. 

Before leaving KA in Towson, he was invited to a birthday party of one of his classmates, a cute little brunette named Olivia.  Another party-goer was little Annie.  I have pictures from this party. They are on another computer, however.  I will try to get those pics up sooner than later.  I also want to add other pictures from when he was younger to his photo album! :D

 

 
2002- 2003

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There is so much to share about Elijah.  I don't have all of his 'timeline' finished yet, clearly.  But, I enjoy taking my time and cherishing all my memories of him.  Of course, I could never capture everything here.  This is just a snapshot.  But, one that will grow a little more over time.

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2003-2004

...more to come...

 
2004

By the time Elijah was 4 he was finally old enough to start playing organized sports.  We signed him up for swimming classes at the YMCA, as well as "sports mix" which had baseball, football, soccer and hockey.  He really loved the water.  Nana and Pappap even came down to visit and watched him swimming during his class once.  At the Y, he also was in soccer.  He did indoor when he was four.  That was really fun to watch, because all the kids would crowd around the ball and follow it all over the floor and noone understood how to play, of course, they were 4!  Mostly, class was drills that included trapping, dribbling, and passing.  But, those last 10 minutes of class when they 'played' soccer, were super entertaining. 

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2005

When Eli was 5, in the summer of '05, he played outdoor soccer. His team was made up of 4 and 5 year olds. He was nearing 6, so he was one of the biggest and most mature kids on his team. He wasn't quite the star of the team, that was the coach's son (ha ha), but he was pretty good. He even scored a goal or two. One day, I took him to soccer and it was particularly hot and there were a lot of bugs flying around. Elijah was very reluctant to go out on the field because he kept seeing dragonflies. Yes, dragonflies. I would have been afraid of them, too, if I was five! He spent a good deal of time that day on the sidelines. He did get out on the field and I got some great pictures of him that bring back the memory of that day. At the time, it was frustrating that he wasn't participating in class. I let him sit with me for a little. But, now, it would be such a blessing to have him sit with me in the grass and to reassure him that everything will be okay. All the times when I was frustrated as a parent, I would take those days all back and more, if it meant he was still here with me, I wouldn't mind the frustration one bit. Well, I would, but what a small price to pay for the blessing of having a precious child.

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1st grade

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Elijah was killed at his grandparents home when their house burned down on December 10, 2005, at the age of 6.

 
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