Prayer bubbles for Aden
They wouldn't keep their grief silent. They would reach out, sharing their grief with others and drawing comfort from the bonds of community.
They began by launching a Facebook page that has already drawn thousands of visitors. It can be accessed at www.facebook.com/PrayingForAden.
On Wednesday, they held a celebration that would delight any 4-year-old — Prayer Bubbles for Aden.
If the adults in the crowd found themselves blinking back tears as they tried to sing one of Aden's favorite songs, “This Little Light of Mine,” through too-tight throats, the children were smiling with delight as they blew cascades of bubbles toward the sky.
Aden's grandmother, Diane Reynolds, said the nightmare began in early February, when she was babysitting Aden while his parents, Vaughn and Tracie Monagon, were out of town.
She took him to the hospital emergency room with what she thought was a virus. Within hours, he had been transferred to Randall Children's Hospital, associated with Legacy Emanuel in Portland.
Less than a week later, doctors there diagnosed Aden with grade three anaplastic astrocytoma. His family was told it was almost certainly terminal.
Aden died on Monday, Feb. 25, surrounded by his parents and sisters.
A celebration of life has been scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday, March 2, at the Nazarene Church on the Hill, on McMinnville's west side. In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations to the Aden Monagon Memorial Fund, care of the church.
Family expenses will be paid off first. Remaining funds will be donated to the Youth Ministries program.
Early on, Reynolds said, "We decided to make ourselves available to the public. ... We want people to share his story – to share their story.”
And people have been doing just that. “On his website, there are 5,000 or 6,000 people on there, and they're all talking,” she said.
At the Wednesday prayer service, Reynolds said, people kept coming up to tell her about their own family tragedies. For the first time, they said, they had been moved to share their own stories.
The Monagon and Reynolds families are taking comfort from the community bonding and from their religious faith.
Aden is now "throwing his arms around Jesus,” his grandfather, Bob Reynolds, told participants on Wednesday.
While Aden was in the hospital, his family repeatedly sang “This Little Light of Mine” to him. He would respond by holding up his finger — the one with the red-lighted oxygen sensor attached.
Although he was often unconscious in his last days, Reynolds said, he never failed to respond to the song, and often seemed to be trying to hum along.
“Tell his story,” she urged Wednesday's participants. “That's what we want, as a family.
"Tell his story – his life, and his light, and this community. ... Even in the darkest hour, there is hope, and that's what we have to hold onto.”
Then she asked the crowd to sing his favorite song once again, as the bubbles flew.