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Ethan Song’s life was celebrated at the First Congregational Church on Feb. 5 with performances and moments of reflection from his family. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Ethan Song (Photo courtesy of the Guilford Funeral Home )
Guilford came together on the Guilford Green on Feb. 2 to share stories and honor the life of Ethan Song. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
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On the morning of Jan. 31, Ethan Song, 15, got his braces off. He was thrilled, according to his mother Kristin Song, and spent the day with one of the family’s rescue dogs before heading off with a friend.
His mother said when police officers came to the house later that day, she just knew.
In the wake of unimaginable tragedy, the Guilford community has come together—physically and spiritually—over the last few days to celebrate the life of Ethan Song and support all of those touched by the Guilford High School (GHS) freshman’s death by gunshot wound (see “Guilford Seeks Answers, Provides Support After Teen Gunshot Death” at DIR).
A celebration of Song’s life was held Feb. 5 at the First Congregational Church. The celebration included performances from Nick Fradiani Jr. and Sr., GHS Voices, Bill Sorensen, and the Toussaint sisters as well as moments of reflection from members of the family. Additionally, his obituary offered insight into his short, but full, life:
“Ethan was a remarkable young man. Ethan was an accomplished honor student and his friends were blessed by his deep intellect, extraordinary sense of humor, infectious personality and compassion. Ethan enjoyed traveling, recently enjoying trips to the Netherlands, London and Mexico. Ethan always enjoyed trips with his family, especially the annual trip to Block Island. Ethan loved the outdoors and enjoyed hikes with his father, skiing and lacrosse. Ethan always enjoyed spending time with his cousins Bennett, Aiden and Samantha Cole, Harrison, Davis and Katherine Miller, Victor and Margaux Miller and Zach and Mica Song. He also enjoyed gourmet food and sushi.
Ethan’s ability to calm and win the hearts of dozens of his mom’s ‘foster dogs’ earned him the nickname of ‘The Dog Whisperer.’ Ethan was a partner in an organization called Unified Sports serving developmentally challenged children in the community. At school Ethan was involved in the Model United Nations. He was involved in Pilgrim Fellowship through the Congregational Church. He was in the early stages of planning a trip to Israel as part of a Birthright Trip.”
Kristin Song, who came up with the idea for the GoFundMe page to raise money for causes Ethan supported, spoke about her son at the Monday service. She thanked the community for its support, specifically all of those who came to pick her family up in its darkest hour, but asked the wider community for one more thing.
She asked that, in Ethan’s memory, that the community pay it forward; that we engage in small acts of kindness, that we all touch someone else’s life in a positive way so that the ripples of our actions survive for months and years to come.
As the Rev. Sarah Verasco said in the closing prayer, “Life is a gift and we haven’t much time to gladden the hearts of those who make the journey with us,” she said. “So be quick to love. Be quicker still to be kind, [so] that the gift of your life may be a gift and a blessing to others.”
Gathering to Grieve
On a frigid evening, Feb. 2, hundreds of residents gathered on the Guilford Green to honor and celebrate the Song’s life. Friends and family described him as brilliant, funny, honest, and true.
The tolling of bells, prayers from the reverends of the First Congregational Church, and stories from friends and loved ones marked the vigil held two days after Song died. Friends and classmates spoke of Song’s quick wit, his dedication to his friends, his competitive spirit, and the lasting effect he has had on so many in the community.
Scott Markovich, a close family friend, spoke to the crowd about his close bond with Song, and thanked the community for supporting the Song family and promised the Songs this support will endure.
“You are loved, you are not alone, and your son has touched so many of us in many different ways,” he said. “All of us will be here for you.”
Logan Driscoll, a senior at GHS and a close friend of Song’s brother, Evan, described Song as an incredibly smart individual who was always fun to be around.
“He was always himself—a warm, loving, extremely funny kid with a huge grin on his face who fed off of other’s laughter,” he said. “...I have never met a group of people stronger than the Songs. Mike and Kristin are my parents, Emily is my sister, and Evan and Ethan are my brothers. As a community we must all come together and all be Song Strong.”
Ethan’s father, Mike Song, addressed the crowd and thanked the whole community for the outpouring of support.
“You might wonder what impact that [a text or call] has on someone who has lost a child and I will tell you it does make a difference,” he said. “It’s a moment where you stop the grieving for one second and go, ‘Oh that person cares about us.’ It’s a point of light.”
Song then asked the crowd to turn their eyes to the sky and say, “Ethan, we love you.”
A chorus of voices answered his request.
A Community Remembers
Before and during the vigil, friends and community members shared their thoughts about Song.
Jake Gladwin, 16, who attends Guilford High School, arrived at the Guilford Town Green just after 6 p.m. in the below-freezing temperatures, with a carload of other teens ready to attend the vigil. While he did not know Song, he said he was there to show support for the family, and for others in the community.
“It saddens me that one of our peers from Guilford High School has passed away,” he said. “But I know with the love and support of the community, we will get through this together.”
One of his friends, who declined to give her name, added that it was a tough time for people in town, and that it was hard to fathom that Song was gone. She said the past few days have passed in a blur, but that the Song family is so well loved in the community, it would have been impossible to pass up the opportunity to show love and support, even on such a frigidly cold night. She said many knew the family, not only because of their children, but also because of their work with foster dogs, their participation in community events like the Closer to Free fundraising event that supports people who have suffered from cancer, and their participation in local sporting events.
Ava Gladwin, 16, who also attends Guilford High School, said she didn’t know Song directly, but that she wanted to attend the vigil to show her support.
“With the help of family and friends, we can get through this tough time together,” she said, opening her winter jacket to show her T-shirt underneath, which had “SongStrong” emblazoned across the front.
Several adults attending the vigil said they were thinking of Song, and of the teenager who was with him right before he died.
“Both of them. We are thinking of both of them,” said one, who declined to provide her name.
Reno Migani, one of the Song’s neighbors, was there with his daughters and his wife. While they struggled to keep their candle lit as the freezing cold winds blew across the crowd, he said the whole family was glad to be there for the Song family and others in their community.
“He was the sweetest kid,” Migani said. “They are the most amazing family.”
The Ethan Song Memorial Fund can be found at www.gofundme.com/ethan-song-memorial-fund
Pem McNerney contributed to this article.
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