After the girls were born, I doubted myself, with two at the same time, I was overwhelmed. By the time Ethan was born I was a more seasoned mother, and as his condition worsened, I was able to be patient with him and take good care of him. But when a child has special needs, the parents have special responsibilities, and we faced many really tough decisions about his care and so still I found myself doubting. How would WE know which choices would be best, when there weren’t any good options? And when nothing we did made him better, how would HE know that our decisions were made with love?
And so early on I began to kiss Ethan every time he laughed, in hopes that when he could no longer laugh, he would remember that feeling of love. In the weeks leading up to his death, I began a ritual of kissing him in the same way every night. I kissed one cheek then the other. I kissed his nose and his chin. And I placed three soft kisses — one, two, three — across his forehead, not wanting any one kiss to be the last. I hoped he could feel them and that he would remember that feeling.
And when Ethan passed, my love for him — my caring for him — was still there, but the places where I looked for him, the places he had spent so much time — on the ottoman, in his bed, were empty. I might never know if he remembered.
Two days later, I had a late night. The girls had a hard time falling asleep and when I finally got a break it was late. As I settled into bed and began to drift off, I felt something on my forehead.
One, two, three.
Ethan gave me three kisses across my forehead. It was unmistakable, the same three kisses I’d given him for so many nights, but this time I felt them, truly felt them. They were kisses from Ethan. And I know he was telling me, now that he was free of his body, now that he could speak, “I love you. I know you did your very best for me.”
One, two, three.
Those three beautiful kisses told me that I’m a good mom and that he knows we did our best for him. I am and will forever be thankful for that love and comfort, and for him, our beloved son. I love you Ethan!
That is where my eulogy ended. Indeed, I knew right away it was Ethan kissing me and it seemed like the most natural thing. It was only later that the impossibility of it all occurred to me. But there was a little bit more to the story that I didn't share at the time. The very next morning after the kisses, I sensed Ethan sitting on the windowsill, a little boy made of light, pulling his knees tight into his chin, just watching over us as we walked down the stairs. He was checking in on us one last time, before he went off to run, play, fly, and do all the things little boys should do. And he wasn't alone, another light shone too, and although I couldn't quite make out who it was, I can only imagine it was his cousin, Allison, who passed away when she was three of a brain tumor. But the truly incredible thing to me was that with the kisses, Ethan did things he’d never done before, and by sitting on the windowsill, he showed up in places he’d never been. I wasn’t simply remembering him. He was there. I'm comforted knowing that he is safe, he is with people who love him, and he is an angel flying high. Till we meet again, Ethan!