First, the disclaimer. I never met Ethan, or his family. They live about 100 yards from my house in Midlothian, up a cul de sac. By the time I became aware of Ethan’s illness, he and his family had already come to faith in Christ. I decided they probably did not need another stranger at their door, claiming kinship, as tends to happen in high profile cases of illness or injury. The circle of pain tends to widen during hard time, particularly those clothed with the death of youngsters. The stranger feels a part; all of the attention and none of the real suffering. I chose to pray from 100 yards away.
Last week, Ethan won his battle with the dread disease from which he suffered for four years, I understand, from age 10 to age 14. Well meaning medical people could do nothing more. Parents could only cling to his ravaged body. He finished his course, beat the pain and won his way out of this world.
Along the way, he demonstrated maturity and courage that were most tear-worthy. Ethan refused to spend time crying for himself but evidenced great concern for others and for God. His most famous statement was his benediction, his “good word.” In this statement he said, “I am not afraid to die. I just don’t want people to be mad at God because I died. I am afraid people will not believe in God because of what happened to me. Just because God did not heal me here does not mean God will never heal me.”
The French phrase above in the title is one of about three French phrases I know. I read in in a book about Napoleon. His sentence is about valiant persons and means, “Real men are rare.” I think he meant he could put a million soldiers in uniform but real men, real soldiers, were hard to find.
I hope I do not add to the familial suffering when I say, from the standpoint of a near neighbor, total stranger, that Ethan was a real man. He got to age fourteen, I am told, and touched ten thousand lives. I hope he touches ten thousand more. Real men are rare.