Ethan Smith's Journal
3 Year Angelversary
Written Oct 27, 2013 12:10pm
This anniversary was harder than the rest, by far. I think it's because it's always hard going through the anger and sadness that that day represents. But in the past, I had Sierra there to keep me company and my mind occupied. We'd spend the day together, doing things together and remembering Ethan together. But as Ethan's 3rd anniversary rolled around, she is not speaking to me. So, I felt more alone, more sad, more anger…and it surely made it more difficult.
It kills me…this sadness. I hate that she is so angry with me. In essence, she is all that I have. Don’t take that the wrong way either….I know I have family, friends and a great support network…but I mean, she is all that I have left that makes me a mother, she is all that I have to show my love for….and she hates me right now.
I get it's the whole “teenage” thing. And it's a long torturous road…I know that. Been there and done that myself to my parents. But for whatever reason, I can't handle it. I need her to “get over it” and talk to me again. These last couple weeks have been the hardest…and for the first time ever, she was not there to love me like a daughter should, despite me trying to love her like a mother should.
It just makes me feel more lost than I thought I was…as she has made me realize I’m more alone than I thought I was.
I feel like I want to over react and yell and scream at her for doing this…but I won’t. I have to respect that she is an individual with her own heart and her own mind and I can't control every little thing in her life. All I can do is continue to love her and wait for her to come around. But given the circumstances, this “waiting” is HARD!
As try as I might to explain to her that we can't always get what we want in life…I find myself arguing with what a shitty explanation that is! In my mind, we need to “hurry” and “get over this”….just in case something happens!!! So who am I trying to convince here??? Her?...or myself???
It may be slightly twisted, but the way my mind see’s this:
If there anything we can take and learn from the death of her brother and her father, that could be used as a learning experience…it's that life is unfair, unpredictable and well…that we don’t always get what we want. Let’s use Ethan for an example…I’m sure as heck he didn’t want to get cancer and spend most of his life in a hospital getting poked by needles, receiving medicines that made him throw up and loose his hair. I’m also sure as heck he didn’t want to die. But he didn’t get what he wanted.
I’ve also tried really hard to get what I wanted, like when I was trying to save Ethan's life by putting him on a bunch of natural medications that I researched, I purchased and I administered to him, on my own…without the authority of the doctor. This is what I wanted…to save his life. But in the end, I didn’t get what I wanted.
That is the way life is. You can't always get what you want. But on a positive note, we can learn that while life is hard and while things we don’t want to happen, happen…there is life to be lived, while we’re alive. We can't waste days sulking in anger when we hear you can't get what you want. There is not enough time in life to sulk.
I mean, what if something was to happen to me? It will one day…it's inevitable. If there is one thing that everyone must do…it’s die. It could be today, tomorrow, next week, next year or years from now. We don’t know this. Sierra’s father certainly didn’t know when he went to bed that night that he would never wake up. This is reality. You just don’t know.
I am trying my hardest to except and convince myself that this is just a “teenage” thing…and that I have to just grin and bear the attitude(s) until she is old enough to understand…
…but this scares the living shit out of me! Waiting, that is. I’m scared to death, fearing, what if something happens to me (or God forbid, her) in the meantime. Because it could…we just don’t know. And I don’t want us to be like this with each other when that day comes. I want us to be the mother/daughter we were. I want us to continue to love and support each other, as we had.
If I die in a car wreck today…I want to know, when I leave the house and say what would be my final “good bye” that she loved me…not happy to see me leave. That if I die in my sleep, that what would be my final “good night” was received with love…not perceived as routine.
It’s so hard…having life experiences like ours to compare such events to…but it's true…and it makes everyday living…that much harder.
…on a similar but note….
I read an awesome post the other day that described a new “normal” that a parent lives after the death of their child. It was quite chilling…the truth of it all. It’s so factual that I too, want to share; as outside what I said above, it describes me the rest of the days in the year…
"What Is Normal After Your Childs Death"
Normal is having tears waiting behind every smile when you realize someone important is missing from all the important events in your family's life.
Normal for me is trying to decide what to take to the cemetery for Birthdays, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween, New Years, Valentine's Day, July 4th and Easter.
Normal is feeling like you know how to act and are more comfortable with a funeral than a wedding or birthday party...yet feeling a stab of pain in your heart when you smell the flowers and see the casket.
Normal is feeling like you can't sit another minute without getting up and screaming, because you just don't like to sit through anything.
Normal is not sleeping very well because a thousand what if's & why didn't's go through your head constantly.
Normal is reliving that day continuously through your eyes and mind, holding your head to make it go away.
Normal is having the TV on the minute I walk into the house to have noise, because the silence is deafening.
Normal is staring at every boy who looks like he is my baby's age. And then thinking of the age he would be now and not being able to imagine it. Then wondering why it is even important to imagine it, because it will never happen.
Normal is every happy event in my life always being backed up with sadness lurking close behind, because of the hole in my heart.
Normal is telling the story of Ethan's death as if it were an everyday, commonplace activity, and then seeing the horror in someone's eyes at how awful it sounds. And yet realizing it has become a part of my "normal".
Normal is each year coming up with the difficult task of how to honor your child's memory and his birthday and survive these days. And trying to find the balloon or flag that fit's the occasion. Happy Birthday? "Not really".
Normal is my heart warming and yet sinking at the sight of something special my baby loved. Thinking how he would love it, but how he is not here to enjoy it.
Normal is having some people afraid to mention Ethan.
Normal is making sure that others remember him.
Normal is after the funeral is over everyone else goes on with their lives, but I continue to grieve my loss of Ethan forever.
Normal is weeks, months, and years after the initial shock, the grieving gets worse, not better.
Normal is not listening to people compare anything in their life to this loss, unless they too have lost a child. NOTHING. Even if your child is in the remotest part of the earth away from you - it doesn't compare. Losing a parent is horrible, but having to bury your own child is unnatural.
Normal is taking pills, and trying not to cry all day, because I know my mental health depends on it.
Normal is disliking jokes about death or funerals, bodies being referred to as cadavers, when you know they were once someone's loved one.
Normal is being impatient with everything and everyone, but someone stricken with grief over the loss of your child.
Normal is sitting at the computer crying, sharing how you feel with chat buddies who have also lost a child.
Normal is a new friendship with another grieving mother, talking and crying together over our children and our new lives.
Normal is not listening to people make excuses for God. "God may have done this because..." I love God, I know that my baby is in heaven, but hearing people trying to think up excuses as to why children were taken from this earth is not appreciated and makes absolutely no sense to this grieving mother.
Normal is being too tired to care if you paid the bills, cleaned the house, did laundry or if there is any food.
Normal is wondering this time whether you are going to say you have two children or one, because you will never see this person again and it is not worth explaining that my baby is in heaven. And yet when you say you have one child to avoid that problem, you feel horrible as if you have betrayed Ethan.
Normal is asking God why He took your child's life instead of yours and asking if there even is a God.
Normal is knowing I will never get over this loss, in a day or a million years.
And last of all, Normal is hiding all the things that have become "normal" for you to feel, so that everyone around you will think that you are "normal".
Ethan’s “would be” Graduation Day
Written Jun 19, 2013 12:19pm
Ethan’s “would be” Graduation Day
Today was the Sunset Heights Elementary School Graduation of 2013. This is…would be…Ethan’s graduating class. The commencement was beautiful in how they chose to remember Ethan as a fellow classmate, student…and friend. Sierra and I had two reserved seats in the front row. On our seats was a card with a gold ribbon embellished with white ribbon angel wings. The card read: Forever a Friend (Please wear this pin in memory of Ethan Smith, who earned his angel wings 10/26/2010. He would have been moving on to the sixth grade with all of you). And sure enough, as the graduating class entered the auditorium, each student was wearing this pin.
After all the students settled, they held a slide show presentation of the “then and now” of all the students in each class. After all the classes were presented, a caption appeared that said, “Friends come and go but some stay in your heart forever” and then appeared picture after picture of Ethan. It was extremely hard to keep my composure!
After the certificates were handed out, my graduating niece, Serena, was called to the stage to present me with a check for $250 for Neuroblast This. I was also given a CD of the video slideshow presentation and a copy of the yearbook that has a dedication segment to Ethan with his photo and some heartfelt words… “In honor of Ethan Smith’s Strength, Heart, Love, Life and Courage: The 5th Grade Class of 2013 carries your spirit with them and holds you close, never to forget the lessons you left on their hearts.”
The whole experience was emotional. I had no idea what to expect walking in those doors today. I got to see lots of familiar faces and chat with many old acquaintances. But nothing could have prepared me for the events that took place during the ceremony. It was a bittersweet experience. (Being the hold back public displays of emotions type of person I am…we scooted out fairly quickly after the commencement so I could sulk in my own private space). So, sorry to those who I didn’t get a chance to say “hi” to.
With Special Thanks to Sunset Heights
From first grade till a few weeks into third grade, Ethan attended school here along side of these graduating kids who have grown so much since Ethan died 2 ½ years ago. In his last days the school put together a wonderful video of all his classmates holding signs and saying messages to Ethan along with singing some favorite songs from music class. Ethan never got to physically see the video, but he did get to hear their voices just hours before he died. As the video played, Ethan’s comatosed body lay there with his eyes closed and his vital signs show signs of the end. But several times throughout the video, Ethan’s heart rate would rise and his oxygen stats increased to normal rates…because he could hear his friends in the video. It was a beautiful moment not just for me…but for Ethan, too. I’m sure they made him feel so much love.
Sunset Heights and many families we’ve meet there, have been such great blessings though out the years, both while Ethan was here…and after. From events they’ve held to help raise funds for our family to families providing gifts and financial support to the students making cards and posters for Ethan’s long stays in the hospital…right down to that video and todays remembrance of Ethan…and the piece of playground equipment dedicated in Ethan’s memory…and all the wonderful accommodations they ALL made to make Ethan feel as comfortable as possible every day that he was able to attend school. I can never be more thankful, than I already am, to have Ethan attend such a loving and supportive school.
Now it’s over…and the heartbreak hits. I come home and think…all those kids today are moving on to middle school…a whole new chapter in their lives. And how sad I feel now, knowing, that as these kids part ways from Sunset Heights…they will also part way from Ethan’s memory. Soon, he’ll be known as “a boy I went to school with…” or “a kid I knew in elementary school…”…if they remember again, at all.
I mean, 2 ½ years in the rest of their lives…is such a short amount of time. Long story short, today made me kind of realize that this is a new – beginning of the end journey for me in my grieving process.
My Precious Gem
….and then there is my precious gem. That is my little knickname for Sierra.
Sierra went from having to repeat the first grade because she missed so much school when her brother was diagnosed with cancer…to her whole Elementary School years watching Ethan’s journey unfold before losing him, and then a few months later, losing her father, just before her elementary school graduation at Sunset Heights.
But by the end of Summer when Sierra started Middle School, she bloomed into someone who became more confident, more mature and more determined to find a focus in life. She started with trying out for the school soccer team…and making it. Only to drop out a few weeks later to instead join honor society and running for student counsel and becoming a class representative…and becoming student of the month all in the first few months of school beginning.
This year instead of doing honor society, Sierra decided to go back to dance classes again…something she hasn’t been able to do since before Ethan relapsed. She joined 3 classes and in the meantime continues in all her 7th grade honors classes. She just recently received a recommendation that for her 8th grade math, she can take high school Algebra 1 and start receiving high school credits a year early. She is now planning on taking this class along with an art class offered at high level for additional credits.
She has her eye’s set on going to college and seems to be trying to make her goals part of her priority as she grows and enjoys her teenage years. She has been so strong and has achieved so much in the 2 ½ years since Ethan’s passing…that it just amazes me in how proud she can make me.
She wrote me a beautiful poem for mother’s day in May:
God set this world in place
Filled up stars in the space
But he had one more miracle to be
That miracle was you to me
He knew you’d walk the extra mile
Just to see your children smile
He knew that you’d be strong
Someone for the daughter to lean on
You were there to hold my hand
Until I could find the strength to stand
God knew that you’d work straight to the bone
To make a house into a home
He knew that you’d be my mother and my father
A great friend to me and my brother
He knew that you would never rest
Until you have done your best
God, Thanks for creating the best mom there could be
But most of all, thanks for giving her to me.
…and that is why she is my precious gem. She is so awesome and these are sentiments that I can say right back to her.
In any event…it’s with many thanks to Sierra that I am able to cope with losing Ethan. She is my rock and God knows what my life would be without her love and support.
Happy 11th Birthday Ethan!
Written Feb 17, 2013 3:34pm
Happy 11th Birthday Ethan!!!
I can't believe Ethan would be 11 years old today! It just feels like such a big boy number...and sadly, it's just another reminder of how short a life he lived. It's been 2 years and 4 months since Ethan took his last breathe... yet, I can still vividly remember all his birthdays...all 8 of them.
...and then there is today...11 years from the day my precious baby was born into this world. Today where Sierra and I let the wind blow out all 11 candles of Ethan's birthday cake. Today where Sierra and I visited the cemetery once again to deliver the first cut of cake. And today with our birthday wishes attached to balloons, releasing to the heavenly skies, in hopes Ethan would receive his Birthday messages from his Mommy and sister:
HAPPY 11TH BIRTHDAY ETHAN! I hope you have a great Heavenly Birthday today! What I would give to celebrate with you here, on Earth. I miss you so much! I love you, love you, hug, hug, kiss, kiss, Good Night, Good Night. Love, Mom
Hey Buddy! Happy 11th Birthday! I hope you're getting spoiled up there in Heaven! I really miss you, life gets so boring without you around. Everyone misses you so much, even Pumpkin and Gracie! I can't believe you're already 11, so big! Well, love you bye! Love your big sister, Sierra
...and then...nothing is as it was.
We've taken a dramatic shift here at home. I used to be able to write on Ethan's Journal how everything at home...is as it was...where he last left them. From his skateboard and snowboard in the hall entrance way...to his sweatshirts hanging in his bedroom closet. But now...NOTHING is as it was. And I mean...nothing!!!
Sierra wanted to do a room swap. Being a frequent thing we used to always do when Ethan was here...I figured it was long overdue and agreed to it. Ethan's room had turned into my office. So it was a matter of moving the "Ethan Office" to Sierra's room and Sierra's room to the "Ethan Office". Therefore, moving everything "that once was", and sorting through everything "that once was"...and deciding what to keep and what should be disposed of...or what should be in a yard sale box or kept as a special memento.
It was an emotional battle moving items that were last touched by Ethan. Or carrying items that are too emotionally difficult to hold, like the 2 Boston Children's Hospital bags, tagged from the Pathology Department and containing the blankets and sheets Ethan died in...or the tote bag from the funeral pallor containing many of the sentiments, cards, guest book and other miscellaneous items. Items no parent should have. Items that represent what was taken from our family. Items that basically confirm...Ethan is gone from this life, forever.
...and forever...is a very long time. I miss him so much!
The plot thickens
As if it wasn't emotional enough to endure such heartache as the move...more items that once belonged to Ethan decided to depart from our family as well. The computer, that once belonged to Ethan...went caput. I didn't lose any files...it's just more of the fact of Ethan's last big WOW gift for his last Christmas...is also gone now, too.
...and if that couldn't be enough...it got worse....much worse.
About 2 weeks after the move was complete and 1 week after the computer died, Frodo, Ethan's long lived gerbil died. Sierra and I have taken care of that little rodent for the last 2 years and 4 months for Ethan because he wasn't here to do it...and now Frodo is gone too. I know the gerbil was probably due to die in his already long extended life (perhaps about 4 years) but it was Ethan's gerbil and well, I never thought I'd say this but...I miss Frodo's presence here.
And so...absolutely nothing is as it was...anymore.
Sadly...life does go on without Ethan here. There isn't a day that passes that I don't think of him. However, life finds a way to bring another day into my world and each day that passes is just another day further from the last day that Ethan was here. Time has a tendency to bring about change and our routines have evolved to best fit the present day. But nothing will ever stop me from wondering what life would be like...if Ethan were still here today.