On the 4th anniversary of his mother's passing, model and activist Kenny Ethan Jones writes a BRICKS voices piece exploring time, grief and gratitude.
Words by by Kenny Ethan Jones
Today, 4 years ago, I watched you leave me. St.Mary’s hospital had become my new home, late nights and early mornings in room 4 of the intensive care unit. I’d been there for 4 weeks, crying, hoping, praying to a god that I don’t believe in, that you’d pull through. But when I left the morning of November 7th 2015, I left without you.
I remember leaving the hospital that morning, reminding myself to breathe and thinking – how is the world still turning while I stand here still, frozen almost? How can people be so oblivious to how much I was hurting when I was shaking from the knees up, struggling to stand? How could I be alive but feel nothing at all? How could my body move when I was dead inside?
This is the 4th year my mind has buried itself in questioning. I wonder, was it your time to go? Or did you feel like you needed to? I know you made passing comments, I know it ripped you apart to see your loved ones – especially your sister – make an early exit from life. You knew you were sick; you left notes laying on the living room table, handwritten on the back of envelopes as if you hoped I’d find it rather than having to explain it.
The 4th year I’m reminded of how you meant everything to me. We shared so many amazing, wonderful and thoughtful moments together; nothing felt surface level with you. I remember the way you’d hug me and tell me everything was going to be okay and kiss me on the forehead before letting go. How you’d fight all my battles like they were yours. We stood side by side throughout my entire transition, fighting for me to become me: the man the world knows me as today. Everyone sees you in me, and that’s because, in so many ways, you made me.
This is one of the many times I want to tell you how my life is. I stayed true to me Mum, we always knew I’d be fighting the world by just existing, but the world has finally started to make room for me. I’m quite a big deal now, I advocate for trans rights (you always knew I would), I’ve modelled in some pretty big publications, you wouldn’t believe who – even Vogue. Everyone calls me Kenny Ethan Jones now, little do they know you were going to call me Ethan if I was born biologically male. I love the name Ethan, even more now that it reminds me of you.
Kizzy – your girl, my sister – is really well, she misses you all the time. She’s having a hard time today, but aren’t we all. She finds comfort in knowing you’re watching over us. Ella – your other girl, my niece – is getting big now, she looks more like you every day, and yes, she’s still got your vibrant red hair. And obviously, the dogs miss you even more than us.
I have some amazing friends, ones that love me wholeheartedly; you’d approve of every one. I’ve met a girl; you’d love her; I know you would. She makes me feel alive, she’s the reason I have the strength to write this to you. I knew she was right for me when she said: “I wonder how your mum would want you to be treated”. It’s a shame you didn’t get to meet her, but hey, maybe another time.
The 4th time I’ve blindly hoped That you know, I miss you. I’m sure you can feel it. I hope you’re surrounded by love in abundance, that you did all the things you didn’t get to do, that you are reunited with all your loved ones.
The 4th time, but never the last time, that I’m beyond grateful for sharing the times we had together. Grateful for every battle you fought for me because I wasn’t strong enough alone. Grateful that you were there every single time I needed you. Grateful that you always believed in me.
I couldn’t have asked for someone better than you, Mum. I love you with everything that I am, ’till our souls collide. Signed – your not-so-little boy.
If you’re experiencing grief due to the loss of someone significant to you and looking for support, join The Grief Network, a community that connects and helps young people experiencing bereavement.