I was working on a post tonight when a friend of mine from a few years ago popped into my mind. Her name is Tina and we met not long after Skylar was diagnosed with autism. Her son Ethan had also been recently diagnosed with autism and they went to occupational therapy at the same time. One morning, Tina and I struck up a conversation and chatted the entire therapy session. Each week I looked forward to chatting with Tina and we exchanged phone numbers and talked several times a week. The kids started ABA at the same time and we went to the same D.A.N. physician so we always had lots to talk about. It was so nice to have someone to talk to. Someone that was going through the same struggles we were going through. You see, when our kids were diagnosed, autism was not the household name that it is today and you didn’t run into a lot of people who had children with autism.
Years later we moved from Ohio and Tina and I fell out of touch. We were both overwhelmed with our kids and lives in general. I’ve thought of Tina so much in the past few years and tonight I finally decided to look her up on facebook. When I entered her name a list of information came up. As I scrolled to the bottom of the list a news headline caught my eye. It was an obituary. And it was for Ethan. My heart immediately broke. Ethan passed away last year from brain cancer. I found the link for his Caring Bridge website and spent the evening reading Tina’s journal entries.
My heart aches for Tina. I have cried harder tonight than I have in a long time. I remember Ethan’s infectious smile. I remember thinking the first time I saw him that he was one of the most beautiful children I had ever seen. I remember the sacrifices Tina and her husband made with their work schedules to make sure that one of them was home at all times with Ethan.
After reading Tina’s entries about Ethan’s battle with brain cancer, my other post just didn’t seem so important. I wanted to honor my friend Tina and I wanted to honor Ethan. This little boy had to endure more in his 10 short years on this earth than most of us will endure in a lifetime. I don’t know why this little boy had to battle both autism AND brain cancer. I know that Ethan fought a good fight. I know that Tina and her family fought this fight with grace and dignity. And I know that Ethan is now FREE. Free from autism, free from cancer, and free from pain.
Life is short my friends. Make each minute count. Tell your family and friends that you love them! Let go of your anger and the things that don’t matter and forgive one another. Be thankful for what you do have.
Do it for Ethan!
I love and appreciate ALL of you!