I've been trying to put together the rest of the details on Ethan's
final arrangements and the wake but my heart just won't let me. I know
that I want to make it so special for him because he is an amazing
little man and I want nothing but the best for my EMan. We won't be
playing any of the traditional music at the final arrangements because
he wouldn't want that. We are going to play my favorite videosof him
doing his thing, as well as, his favorite songs. I've arranged for
everyone to get a square of big-ass bubble wrap to pop. Nothing says
EMan like bubble wrap. LOL. We are going to have a more modern version
of an Irish Wake for EMan because he wants it that way. LOL. We are
going to play his favorite songs and everyone is going to have to toast
to their favorite memory of Ethan. No crying unless it's tears of joy
for the life he shared with others. I am so broken but Ethan and I talk a
lot. He knows I'll be okay...I think. He wants to make sure that his
celebration of life, not the mourning of his death, lives on. He makes
me promise every night that I will make sure the world doesn't forget
him..I aim to keep that promise.
All raised funds will go to Maria Maldonado for household and final arrangement expenses.
Hi, Everyone. This is Ethan’s mom, Maria. As most of you know, I served
in the United States Marine Corps. I knew at age 6 that crossing that
parade deck was my destiny. I didn’t have the easiest childhood but I
held onto that dream and it saw me through some really horrible
times…sometimes, it was the only thing that helped me survive. Now,
almost 25 years later, my little man is fighting for his own survival
against a far greater beast than I could ever imagine…pediatric brain
cancer and his dream of walking that parade deck crushed.
was born, I knew he would do great things…it was why his name was
chosen. You see, Ethan means, “strong and optimistic..solid, enduring
and permanent”; his middle name, Alexander, after the famous Alexander
the Great. Undefeated in battle and considered one of history’s greatest
commanders. I could never imagine that those names would personify who
he is today and who, forever, he will be.
February 26th 2012, our
lives were changed forever when I took my son, Ethan, for a simple eye
exam. Dr. Hart of All Saints Eye Care, here in Ft. Myers, noted cerebral
fluid pressing on Ethan's optic nerves and two days later, we were en
route to All Children's Hospital in St. Pete, FL. Ethan underwent an MRI
and emergency surgery to relieve hydrocephalus, as well as a dangerous
biopsy to diagnose a lesion found on his right thalamus. On March 6th
2012, we received the diagnosis of Anaplastic Astrocytoma Grade III;
thus sending Ethan into a battle against time, this battle we now refer
to as "Ethan's Journey."
November 20, 2013, was the day our lives
took a turn for the worst. After Ethan’s MRI was done, the Radiologist
stepped into the room and asked to speak to me privately. My heart sank
in my chest because I already suspected what he had to say. Even today,
the words ring in my ear and my heart skips its beat. The flash of me
having to tell my son that he is dying and hearing the fear in voice and
see the fear on his face rips at my very being.
through all of this has been so exemplary and I am forever grateful that
the Commandant issued the warrant making him Honorary United States
Marine. While he did ask why he had cancer, he has never once
complained. He never questions. He just trusts me implicitly and as his
Commanding Officer, I just try to do my best make the right call.
heart is broken. I feel as if God has led me to the battlefield and
abandoned me. I cannot imagine my life without my little one, his
laughter…his corny jokes and his warm embrace, his beating heart. When I
almost lost him in May 2012, I told him that he was a Marine and
Marines were not allowed to die without permission. In April 2013, he
tried to give up on his battle and surrender to defeat. I reminded him
that he was a Marine and Marines were not allowed to die without
permission. Mustering up the courage behind tears, I instructed him to
suck “that s*** up because I, as his CO, hadn’t issued that order yet!”
This time was different…As I told him why hospice was delivering his
new bed and all the other equipment; he sobbed into his little hands and
reached out in fear for me, begging me not to issue “The Order”. “But
I’m not done. I can beat this”, he said with certainty. Imagine those
words in your ears…imagine waking up and not wanting to move because
you’re afraid your little one didn’t. Imagine hearing your child speak
of having children and naming them after you…only to cry out inside
because you know that will never happen. Imagine your child speaking of
being reincarnated so he can be with you again. This is the devastation
of pediatric cancer.
We have had such an outpouring of love and
support from our military family…all across the globe, each phone call,
text, email or comment wishing us a good fight and offering words of
support. Many have asked if we need anything and said we need only ask.
Ethan and I want to ask you now to help. Last week, Hospice told me he
is expected to live only a few more months. With his health
deteriorating, it is becoming increasingly difficult and time intensive
to care for Ethan. He is becoming incontinent and requires assistance
walking, bathing and eating. Since my son’s diagnosis, I have been fired
or forced to leave four jobs. Although I have tried to maintain
employment but it has become apparent that I can no longer hold a
full-time job while giving Ethan the kind of care he requires and
deserves. Without this income, the two of us are dependent on SSI and
donations to pay our bills. Although we are thankful for the assistance,
the funding from SSI barely covers our rent payment, leaving little
money for other household expenses. My job has kept us afloat for the
last few months but continuing to work is no longer an option for me. I
ask you, as a mother, to please help me maintain a standard of living
for my son in his last months on Earth. Help me to stay in our home, so
he can go to sleep every night in his own bedroom. Help me to keep the
electricity bill paid, so he can take his mind off the cancer by playing
on his Xbox. Help me to keep the fridge stocked with his favorite
foods, so he can eat them on the days when he actually has an appetite.
Perhaps most of all, I ask for your help in raising money for the day
we all hoped would never come, his funeral. Although preparing for my
young son’s funeral is the last thing I want to think about, it is up to
me to make sure he is given a ceremony that fully honors and respects
his life’s legacy. As a Marine myself, I was honored to watch my son
achieve Honorary Marine status this past fall at 4th AAV Battalion
Marine Corps Base in Tampa. It is important to both of us that he be
given his full military honor with a Marine’s funeral. With our economic
future unclear, it breaks my heart that I am uncertain as to how I will
be covering the associated expenses. While it is not easy for me to
ask for the help of strangers, I see no other option now. Shortly before
his diagnosis, Ethan helped raise nearly $500 for the St. Jude
Children’s Research Hospital as part of a school project. Little did he
know he’d soon be the one needing that help? Semper Fi, Maria E.
MARINES TAKE CARE OF MARINES PERIOD!!!!
It was an honor to meet Ms. Maria and to meet Ethan; both are stronger than I could ever hope to be and it was a great pleasure of mine to be able to talk to them both.
I sobbed as I read this. My heart breaks for you. As a mom I cannot imagine bearing what you both are going through. Prayers and blessings. God loves you and He is with you. You are not alone.