My name is Angela, and I run for my boys.
In 1995 I became a mother to a beautiful son named Mason. Three years later, his perfect little brother Ethan arrived. 10 years later their sister joined us and I knew the family was complete.
Like any family we stayed busy with school, sports, and family activities. Mason had a passion for weightlifting. If you couldn't find Mason, all you had to do was look in the gym. He'd be there, working out and encouraging others along the way with his kind smile that would light up the room. Ethan started playing lacrosse in middle school and became quite good. He played in high school and excelled in his position as "attack." He was also a diehard Steelers fam. Anytime the Steelers were on, he was waving his "terrible towel" in the air and taunting those of us who were not fans. Both boys showed great love for their little sister, who was quite a bit younger.
Mason joined the Navy in 2015, right out of high school. He excelled at boot camp, and the family traveled to Great Lakes, Illinois to see him graduate. It was his proudest moment, and we will never forget it. After that Mason began more advanced military training and schooling. Things seemed to be going to plan.
But then, less than a year later, Mason unexpectedly took his own life. He was 19.
Mason’s death rocked our family. Every day became a daily struggle. We just wanted to understand “Why.” How could this have happened to our family?
Ethan and his sister struggled the most from Mason’s death. They worked hard to reconcile the loss of their big brother. Keeping up with family traditions such as holidays, vacations, and birthdays were extremely difficult. Our perfect family of five was down to four. The loss was tragic and difficult for everyone. The presence of a once happy and fun Mason was gone forever. Over the next two years, through counseling and a lot of love, we coped. We did the best we could. Ethan continued school and lacrosse, playing for his high school and in a club. He was also looking to the future after high school.
But what came next was unthinkable.
In spring 2017, just one month shy of his high school graduation, Ethan, too, died by suicide. Just saying it takes my breath away.
People often ask me, “How do you do it? I could never go on.”
My response is always this: “I did not choose this. I was not given a choice. I was put on this path.” Through counseling and education and by working hard to integrate my grief into my life, I have come to understand that the most important thing we as a society must do is to talk about suicide. We can do better in educating young people about this crisis, through education in schools and by having honest conversations in our communities and at home.
The Brothers’ Run is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that I founded to provide this resource. The goal of Brothers’ Run is to raise money that will help fund the implementation of suicide education and prevention programs within our schools.
Mason and Ethan were remarkable, compassionate young men with bright futures. They would have wanted me to carry on their legacies by helping others to avoid their fate. I would be honored to invite you to help me in that work by joining us in Brothers’ Run.