Twelve years ago my first child came into the world flashing a smile and dimples. As he grew, his laughter filled rooms. His joy was rarely stifled by anger. He left Legos underfoot and engineered trash into forms held together with scotch tape and a vivid imagination. He had six birthdays on Earth, now six in the stars. We are left with tears, thoughts of the pre-teen he might have been, and memories of missing teeth, infectious giggles, warm hugs, and a gentle, sensitive heart. On dark days, we remember a boy who looked at pieces of things and saw something beautiful. It’s our reminder to hear the crickets sing, kiss the soft cheeks of our girls, and search for rainbows behind the rain. Happy birthday Ethan.
Three years. How can it be? On the first anniversary we released balloons from a mountain top in memory of our son. I had a beer to remember John. We spent the second anniversary at a lake where we had shared wonderful memories with our son. We later ate pizza, and yes, I had another beer in memory of John. This year, we’ve decided to do something different. It’s an idea from the MISS Foundation. Instead of spending the day in mourning, we want to spread joy and happiness to others. A little kindness goes a long way. It will certainly make our hearts lighter.
We’d like to invite anyone who wants to remember Ethan and John to participate in the Kindness Project. MISS has some ideas on their websites. They even have free memorial cards that can be printed and handed to those you help. I truly can’t think of a better way to show our love for Ethan and John than to share it with others. So, on July 27, the day after the third anniversary of their death, please help us spread some kindness in the world!
It’s hard to believe almost two years have passed since we lost John and Ethan. It feels like yesterday. Many people continue to offer their support and condolences. We are very grateful for the many kind thoughts sent our way. Recently, a mom — someone I don’t know — heard our story and sent the Star Wars picture posted below. Another person I don’t know made a special mention of Ethan on a designated Star Wars day. To know that Ethan and John live on in these small moments provides some comfort.
We love you. We miss you. For google, infinity, ever after.
The Internet opens the door to many wonderful opportunities. It allows people who are separated by continents to connect. It makes it possible for people with shared interests to find each other. For Ethan’s 7th birthday, people from around the world watched Star Wars. When we honored Ethan and John on the one year anniversary of their death, hugs were shared in Europe and the U.S.
But the Internet also provides opportunities for people with darker intentions. My family has been ridiculed in chat rooms, our photos have led to online discussions over the proper way to mourn, and most recently, my identity as Ethan’s mother was stolen.
A person claiming to be “Lisa Ethan’s Mummy” set up a memorial site for Ethan and John on a portal called GoneTooSoon. She stole content from this site and posted it on GoneTooSoon. She has also posted her own comments on GoneTooSoon while pretending to be me.
I contacted the administrators to request the removal of the sites. The administrator’s response: “Hello Lisa, obviously GTS cannot tell who the mother of this child is, or any details surrounding the individual memorial. We can remove the memorial, but it would require you sending in some proof that you are Ethan’s mother (email an attached copy of his birth certificate).I am not disputing the claim that you are his mother, however, as stated we cannot tell who is the mother and who isnt, simply based on you telling us.”
It is an absolute outrage to suffer such a painful loss and then have to PROVE your identity. It is clear that sites like Gone Too Soon need to change their administrative process in order to better weed out fakes and identity thieves before it becomes a problem for the truly bereaved. Perhaps, Gone Too Soon should ask the impersonator for proof.
Shame on them. Shame on the person pretending to be Ethan’s mother. I think our family has been through enough pain.
We have been given much support over the past year from friends, family, and strangers. I wanted to let everyone know how much our family has appreciated that support. Coping with Ethan’s death would have been much more difficult without it.
So, for the one-year anniversary of the death of Ethan and his grandfather John McGee, I wanted to do a cyber version of “pay it forward.” I declare July 26 “Hug the Ones You Love Day.” Please, take this time to hug the people you love. Below is an email version that can be copied, pasted, and sent to all the people you cannot hug in person.
This message is a cyber-hug to let you know how much you are appreciated and loved.
Sometimes in our busy lives, we forget to tell the people we love how much we care. We think we’ll have time tomorrow. But what if tomorrow never comes?
July 26 is “Hug the Ones You Love Day” in honor of six-year-old Ethan Forster and his grandfather John McGee, who both died in a swimming pool accident on July 26, 2008.
Remember hugs are free but their value is priceless. Hugs are nonfattening and nonpolluting. They reduce stress and improve health. When you give a hug, you get one back.
So, wrap your arms around the people you love on July 26. If you can’t hug them in person, please share this message and send them a cyber-hug.
So many people have written or told us that they don’t have the words to express their sadness at our loss. Likewise, we have struggled to find the words to express our gratitude to everyone who has called, written, sent flowers or gifts, prepared food, and much more. This has been the worst time of our lives, yet we have seen the best in people. The words – Thank You – are inadequate but they are all we have. We truly have been overwhelmed by the support shown by family, friends, acquaintances, colleagues, neighbors, and strangers. The communities of Selma, Fresno, and Sacramento in Calif., Athens, Ohio, and Eugene, Ore. have wrapped themselves around us like a prayer shawl, offering us hope, peace, and love. We are deeply, deeply grateful. Thank you.
David and Lisa Forster
On Aug. 21, we held a birthday bash for Ethan. Nearly 100 people attended to help us celebrate Ethan’s short life. We had promised to let him watch Star Wars on his 7th birthday but he died three weeks shy of his birthday. Friends from the Register-Guard, University of Oregon, Co-op, Harris Elementary School and Spencer View apartments attended the potluck and showing of Star Wars. Darth Vader even made an appearance. Everyone was invited to write a message to Ethan. We attached these messages to balloons, and right before the start of the movie, we released the balloons into the sky. For us, it was the most moving and difficult part of the evening. We are very grateful for the support of everyone who attended and those who sent their well wishes and watched Star Wars at home. Getting through our son’s seventh birthday was extremely hard and painful, and we are fortunate to have so many friends who helped us make that day as bearable as it could be under the circumstances. I think the force was with us all.
I apologize for the delay in getting your Star Wars pictures posted. We’ve been visiting with family and friends in California and haven’t had Internet access.
We have heard about people watching Star Wars in London, Japan, Washington D.C., Texas, Florida, Alaska and many other places. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. There is one special story I want to share. It was forwarded by Erin Armstrong in Ohio. Her best friend had her first child, a son, on Aug. 21. The birth went smoothly, and later, the new mom and son, Dean, watched Star Wars. Ethan and Dean now have a shared birthday. We wish Marie and Dean all our best. It’s wonderful to hear joyful news like this at such a sad time in our lives.
In the last several days, numerous Star Wars watching party photos have arrived. Thank you for sharing them with us and taking the time to celebrate our son, Ethan, on his birthday. Please keep sending your photos. Our email is: firstname.lastname@example.org
We have heard that people around the world watched Star Wars today for Ethan’s birthday. Japan, London, Washington D.C., North Carolina, Ohio, California and many more places. Thank you!!!
The photos are beginning to roll in. Please send your pictures to email@example.com, and we’ll post them on the blog. Mike DiBari sent this photo from Athens, Ohio of his wife, Sherry, sons, Dylan and Jack, and friends, Jim andKorpi.
Ethan’s Aunt Michelle and Uncle Vance also sent this photo from Fresno, California. We’re told Vance has watchedover 100 times (no exaggeration!), he still loves seeing it. Michelle hasn’t seen it in years, and Ethan’s Grandma Nancy only saw the movie when it first came out. Michelle’s friend Julie hasn’t seen Star Wars since she was a child. Pictured are Ethan’s grandma Nancy, Julie, and Michelle with R2D2.
We plan to honor this promise to our son, and we are asking everyone, wherever you are, to watch “Star Wars” (the first movie, which came out in 1977) on Thursday, August 21.
Since Ethan’s death, we have been overwhelmed by an outpouring of love and compassion by family, friends and complete strangers. This “Star Wars” gathering is for us a tribute to the memory of our son, but we also see it as a opportunity to bring people together in celebration of the bonds that join us as family and friends — sort of like a Thanksgiving in August.
So we’re asking you, if you feel comfortable doing so, to forward this message to your friends and family. We’ve already heard that several “Star Wars” costume parties will take place on August 21, one as far away as Washington, DC. We’re inviting everyone to email us their “Star Wars” party photos so we can post them on the blog. Our hope is to turn this into a global celebration.
If you have any questions, you can reach us by email at.
David and Lisa Forster
- Happy 12th Birthday Ethan
- Turning a Day of Sorrow Into a Day of Kindness
- Two Years Later
- Stealing Grief; Stealing Identities
- Hug the Ones You Love Day
- Words just aren’t enough…
- Eugene Star Wars Celebration
- More Star Wars Photos
- Send Us Your Star Wars Photos
- Ethan’s Star Wars Celebration
- Memorial Service Script