If there's anything that can cheer me up on my bad days, it's Ava Ryan's hilarious videos. If you're ever on Facebook, you've probably seen her videos floating around.
It started several years ago when she was just a toddler. Her parents started recording her looking out the window at a sunset, saying repeatedly, "I smell like beef."
Since then, Ava has become an Internet sensation. She has even created a few "characters" for her YouTube channel, such as "Bossy Boss Lady" and "Charlene," your hot mess middle-aged friend.
While her videos are hilariously clever and oddly relatable, there's a heartbreaking story to her adorable sense of humor.
When Ava was just a toddler, Katie's little sister Sarah passed away.
"Even in those times, Ava was able to make me laugh," Ryan told Today. "My parents, too -- they were in such despair and grief. I think Ava gave them a reason to keep going. She became our sunshine -- I know it's kind of cliché -- in the darkest time of our lives."
"I always kind of looked at myself as her protector in the world, because people weren't always nice," Ryan said.
Katie said Sarah was always a huge fan of children, so she was so excited when Ava was born. The two of them shared a special bond.
"She would sit with Sarah, they'd play stickers," Katie said. "We tried to get them together at least an hour a day, anything to help Sarah get better, to fight through it. Sarah was so adorable. She had such a kind face. Ava really took to that and genuinely loved her."
"It was such a weird time in my life because I was going through the most grief I'd ever experienced, but I also had this little girl with me who I just adored," Ryan said. "I think just having a reason to get up, and not kind of wallow up my sadness … I was able to put it aside."
Katie took to Huffington Post to share her beautiful experiences. She said there would be several moments where she would feel "incredibly sad," then Ava would come and tug on her sleeve, wanting to play.
"I would look into her big eyes and be at a loss to refuse," shewrote. "So we played -- we played a lot of the time. We played while I swallowed down the sorrow. We laughed; we made characters and games and a whole little world for ourselves that existed only between the two of us. It continued long after Sarah's passing. We have never stopped playing and laughing."
She said her sweet daughter will never realize how much she helped Katie to move on from the loss of her little sister.
"I never placed that on her, nor did I expect her to be my savior," Katie said. "It was simply that she was able to help me see things purely again, to help me realize that I alone had the choice to laugh or cry. To live or to wallow in pain. It's because of her that I began to choose the former."
This just goes to show the difference children can make in our hearts, and the power they have to make such a difference! I can't wait to see where Ava goes in life.