Last year when we took Elyse to camp, there was one area where I could definitely not venture – the sports field where Ethan was struck by lightning the previous year. As emotional as it was taking Elyse to camp, the thought of being on the field sent me into a state of anxiety. We had even made accommodations to park our car up top – rather than adjacent to the sports field where everyone else parked for drop-off – specifically for that reason. I didn’t know if I would ever be able to go there; maybe I could compartmentalize the experience and pretend a sports field didn’t exist. I realized I could create any excuse and never go down to the field.
This year was different. I’m not sure what changed inside of me – I asked Scott for his opinion, and together we decided to go down to the field after we said our goodbyes and helped get Elyse situated in her new cabin. I contemplated waiting and doing this at pick up after the session was over, and then came to the conclusion I didn’t want to spend the next few weeks thinking about it and going back and forth in my mind if this was the right thing to do, etc. We sent a quick text to our Rabbi, asking if she would have the time to join us there. We also asked if Ethan’s former counselor – who was with him in the seconds following the lightning strike – would accompany us.
Walking toward the field proved to be quite emotional; this was the spot where Ethan had “died” – his heart had stopped on that field, and it was through the quick and courageous acts of so many surrounding him that he was brought back to life. This was the place where all of our lives had changed. This was also the sacred place where Team Ethan was born. From the first responders (camp personnel, EMTs), to the camp community, to the camp families, to our Cincinnati community and beyond, something was created in the moments following this tragedy, something much greater than any of us could have ever imagined, and for which we remain incredibly humble and grateful to this day.
Being down at the field on Tuesday afternoon demystified the location for us. It even came close to bringing us a sense of peace, especially when we saw that Ethan had been surrounded by all the physical locations he loved at camp—the baseball field to one side, the Migdal (climbing tower) to the other.
It was not an easy accomplishment, yet I’m glad that we went there together. We already miss Elyse – it’s so quiet around the house — and we are confident she is having an amazing time. We wish to everyone who has started summer camp, or who will begin in the coming days and weeks, a wonderful and fulfilling experience. Make beautiful memories and bring home amazing stories.
Alexia and Scott