This past Saturday, July 17th, was the first big family event that Erich was not with us. She had always wanted him to be there … he had always wanted to be there, and yet life happened and kept them from fulfiling this dream. Lindsay, Erich’s sister got married and Erich was not with her to celebrate this wonderful and happy day. She carried him not ony in her heart but in her locket, with a picture of him, hanging from her bridal bouquet. He was rembered by everyone; he was missed by everyone. Erich would never have wanted us to dwell on his absence, so we celebrated the love he had for Lindsay and celebrated her marriage. A song was sung that Erich and Lindsay had sung together at a talent contest … From This Moment”. Lindsay and Tony danced while Erich’s good friends Robbie and Michelle sang this beautiful song. Tears fell and smiles followed.The day was blissfully happy and joyous. You were there with us Erich … we each carried you in our hearts. I love you.
I wish at times my memory could be wiped clean where I could not remember bad or sad things that have happened in my life. Too many happenings bring these horrible memories back and I do not know how to stop them. I physically can get sick when this happens. One memory which continuously haunts me is the night my son died. I cannot get out of my head that he needed me and I did not go to him; that he called to me and I did not hear him; that he was breathing his last breath and waiting for me to come down to him, and I didn’t come. That is what I am talking about. It’s horrible and I hate it. I want it to go away. This past couple days a young man named Tyson Larson tragically died in an accident. He went to school with Erich and since then that is all I think about. I think about the night Erich died and I think about Ty’s family and what they are going through; the horrendous grief. They have so much more faith then I ever have, and I can see in their writings that this may be helping them. But I ask myself, as much faith as one has, how does that stop this unending hole gaping in the heart. I don’t see that. My heart goes out to each of them. It is not right that so many young children are taken from their parents. It is too hard. God does not prepare parents to handle this type of grief.
A child’s birthday is celebrated with such eagerness; with laughter and giggles, a huge amount of toys, the very best of friends and so much excitement for the child and the parents. And as soon as that birthday is over, children start looking forward to the next birthday! It is a never ending cycle of birthdays. And what fun.
It is such a milestone when children go from one age to the next and as much as parents miss the younger years of their children, they look forward to the experiences and changes as their children grow older. It becomes an adventure in parenting.
Yet it is has always been different for me when Erich’s birthday approached each February 1st. I knew with each of Erich’s birthdays came one more year that he had lived and one more year closer to when he may die. See, the medical community put a “life limit” on Erich’s life; telling us chances he would not live past his late teens. With that cloud always looming over, how was I to look forward to Erich growing another year older?
I would never let on to Erich that I felt like this and always celebrated Erich’s birthdays to the limit, making sure each year was better than the last. As Erich grew older, he never let on to me that he thought about his years going by. Maybe it would have been easier had we talked. But how would such a discussion have gone?
I know tomorrow I will celebrate Erich’s 29th birthday with his sisters, grandma and step-dad. We will spend time at the cemetery with him, sing happy birthday and eat some of his favorite foods. I will miss his surprise and anticipation over what his presents would have been and I will miss his excitement over where we would go for dinner.
Happy Birthday Kiddo!
It is in the most unexpected moments that I am both surprised and touched by friends who seemingly fall from the heavens and tell me a story of Erich. Today was one of those moments.
For the past two weeks, procrastination has invaded my reality preventing me from making a simple phone call to my church; you see, at times my mind can be very devious. My inner voice tells me … “Don’t call the church because if you do and you request masses to be said for Erich you are admitting that Erich is no longer with you.” So I listen to my inner voice; admittance means acceptance of Erich’s death. I am not ready for acceptance.
And yet as much as I fight with acceptance on a daily basis; today, I pushed those voices aside and made the call. It became one of those moments.
No sooner had I dialed the number when I was talking to a friend. She was as surprised as I, when I called and she answered, and I even more so when she relayed to me that just yesterday she and the Director of Teen Ministry had been talking about Erich. She relayed this simple but funny story to me …
Several years back Erich co-taught Teen Ministry at St Peter Claver Church. One meeting Erich and the teens along with their dogs, cats, birds and one hamster went visiting a nursing home. The dogs and cats were on leashes, the bird in a cage and the hamster in an exercise ball hamsters so dearly love! What I never knew was on that same evening, after sharing with the elderly, the teens decided that the hamster and Erich should race down the hall; Erich in his power chair and the hamster in his ball! The race ensued … she never did tell me who won and it didn’t matter. What I envisioned in my mind was enough… Erich, the hamster and the hallway!
An unexpected moment!
At times it is difficult to remember Erich’s entire 24 years. As his mother I tended to focus on the present; the present was what was important to Erich. He never dwelled on the past. I will try to remember; to recall it all so that you get to know Erich and get a little glimpse into his life; of where and how he found happiness and how he struggled with his disability both physically and emotionally.
Erich’s headstone reads … “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith”. 2 Timothy 4:7
Never has a verse so perfectly described a person. This was Erich’s verse. He fought hard, he lived passionately and always had deep faith in God.
This is for you …
For parents wanting to share the stories, experiences, struggles, adventures, heartache and courage of their amazing children. It is also for parents to chronicle their journey.
Our society and world must find compassion within themselves and it is my great hope that these stories be heard and read by others. This is for you …
Erich Vincent Malone never feared life and never feared death and in between his life and his death, he lived a wonderful life filled with love, laughter, experiences, sadness, heartache, loss and disappointments; but never did Erich give up, even on his worst of days. He had a reason to be here; and if you ask those who knew my son … they were touched by him in a way difficult to describe.
Erich and I shared a special bond. I was not only his mother, I was also his caretaker. Many may not know the intricacies of being both a mother and a caretaker; the two are enmeshed and at times one cannot differentiate between the two. But that never mattered to us. I was told by my mother that God chose me for Erich because of the love and devotion I could give him and the strength I had to take care of him through his disease. I hope she was right. What I learned from him, could be learned by no other.
Erich relied on me not only for the love and protection of a mother but also relied on me to understand his disease and how it affected him, and what he and I had to do to give him a life full of wonder and experience. Erich and I made quite a team!
Erich has a life story and I want to tell his story. It is a story of a child and young man born with a disease which would take his life 24 years later. And, in those amazing 24 years he lived a life that touched everyone around him. There is a great deal to tell … his triumphs and defeats that formed him into the person he was. He changed those around him and those who came in touch with him. He was a incredibly beautiful soul.
I will write about him. I want you all to know Erich as I did …