Ethan--The Story Behind the Story


The story of The Dragon King began in 2006 on a pediatric burn unit in Nashville, Tennessee, where I met a boy named Ethan. Ethan and his mother, Sarah, were visiting from California over the Thanksgiving holiday when Ethan burned in a brushfire.  I heard via a chain of emails that Sarah would not leave her son's side even for food and a request was sent out for people to bring meals directly to the room.  I arrived with a lunch, a wooden sword and a felt crown only to feel completely inept and helpless at the sight of a bed ridden six year old hooked to oxygen, covered in bandages and in a morphine induced sleep. Would he ever play with the toys I had brought him?  Would he survive his new grafts or the ones that were still to come in the following days?  Would he decide that the pain was too great and simply give up?  “What can I do, what can I do?!”  I thought over and over.

A story. He needs a story--one that tells of his bravery and strength, a story which inspires his imagination--that wonderfully creative space where anything is possible!

So, I wrote a story for Ethan.  But, because I considered myself a musician and not a children's author, I didn't quite know what to do with it.  So, it sat idly in my computer until I lost track of the boy I met at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital.

Then, in 2010, as my family and I were moving and I was clearing files from a worn out computer, I stumbled across it.  Why had I abandoned this story that I had felt so utterly compelled to write--this story that Ethan and this mother had never even heard? 

And then I realized--it needed music; the language that speaks to us regardless of who we are or where we come from.  Music is the balm that heals the body, comforts the spirit and knits us together in humanity.

I am still looking for Ethan so that I can finally show him the story I wrote for him.


Perhaps you know him?