My Sweet Ethan,
I sit here writing you this letter, when I wish I could be cuddling you, changing your diaper, nursing you. We are at the beach today, the same beach house I have been vacationing at since I was 1-year-old. I wish I could be introducing you to the beach and your extended family. You should be 2 weeks old tomorrow. Instead you died 13 weeks ago today, and I buried you, spread your ashes 5 days ago.
As I write this I am dipping my feet in the same ocean water I spread some of your ashes - so you are here with me. I can see Appledore Island, and am envisioning your apple tree.
Everything about Friday was beautiful Ethan, everything except the reasoning behind it. On the way to the boat in the morning, your oldest brother (Jackson, 3 years old) out of nowhere said "Hey Mom, Ethan's not dead anymore. He's all better." At first I thought, oh no, Jackson thinks you are alive on Earth, and then I realized he didn't think that at all. Here's your 3 year old brother teaching me about faith. He was reassuring me that you have life in Heaven , and that you are no longer suffering or sick.
We took a boat ride out to Appledore with Mark and Pam Boutilier. The first boat we took broke down in the harbor and we had to go back for the other boat. No worries though, Caroline, Jackson and Ryan LOVED being on a boat. The weather could not have been more beautiful. Mid to low 80s, sunny with a light breeze. I had prayed for good weather - a blessing that God granted me.
Got off of the boat at Appledore's dock and felt a sense of peace take over me. It just felt right. The right place, on the right day, with the right people to do the thing that no parent should ever have to do.
Your brothers and sister took turns getting rides from Mark on the Gator - they loved it. But I think you already knew that, I think you were there. There were 80-100 monarch butterflies, maybe more, fluttering around us. They felt like you and your little heavenly friends visiting us. Nature welcomed us to their island, now a home to your earthly remains. Countless seagulls and geese serenaded us.
Pam showed us around Celia Thaxter's garden - the garden your tree will grow to shade. The blooms were spectacular and I took pictures of poppies, a flower of remembrance. Pam had been waiting for the morning glories to bloom, also known as the "heavenly blue" flower. The first bloom came that very morning, it felt fitting. That garden was FULL of butterflies.
I took a walk alone to a remote part of the island, just me, seagulls, rocks, the ocean, God and you. You know that I spoke to you then and prayed to God. I spread some of your ashes in the ocean. And took some seashells from that beach, Sandpiper Beach. The seashells are now in a vase I look at daily - a small part of the island that now has such a large part of me.
Back at the garden everyone was busy planting you MacIntosh Apple tree. We put your ashes in with the soil, your Dad said a beautiful prayer and we buried you. Your siblings took great care in arranging the beach stones they had chosen and painted for you. Two circles around the tree. The names of some of your heavenly friends are on the stones as well.
Then it was book time. We read you the books your siblings and I chose for you. Ryan chose The Red Ripe Strawberry, fitting as he had strawberry juice stains on his face from snack. Jackson chose The Very Hungry Caterpillar, at the end of which is a monarch butterfly - just the creatures fluttering by us all morning. After reading that book Pam and Jackson found the monarch butterfly caterpillar crawling around us. Caroline read The Giving Tree, perhaps one of my favorite stories of all time. About the mutual love a little boy and a red apple tree have for one another - just the tree that we had planted for you and laid you to rest with. I read you On the Night You Were Born, something I had hoped to read to you in the hospital, but never got the chance to do. There was a line in the book... "So whenever you doubt just how special you are and you wonder who loves you, how much and how far, listen for geese honking high in the sky. (They're singing a song to remember you by.)" And the Appledore geese started honking as I read that line to you. They remember you Ethan, as I always will.
Your sister and brothers were so well-behaved - another blessing! At the end of our time on Appledore we posed for a family picture on the rocks. I think you flew by, a little yellow butterfly. Lovely Pam noticed too and said that was you.
I feel at peace with the day and with your final resting place. I will miss you with every breath I take, but know I am on the road to healing. I will keep my eyes and ears open for you, my sweet Ethan.
All my love,