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Rock garden tribute built with strong support

The Hedeen Family (Ethan far right). Photo courtesty of Sarah Hedeen1 / 3
The rock garden was built in roughly two days over Memorial Day weekend. Photo courtesy of Sarah Hedeen2 / 3
The rock garden was built in roughly two days over Memorial Day weekend. Photo courtesy of Sarah Hedeen3 / 3

HAGER CITY — There are situations in life that make people question why now or why me. In the case of 10-year-old Ethan Hedeen, it begs the question why so soon.

Ethan died unexpectedly March 26 due to complications from an undiagnosed intestinal problem caused by Meckel's diverticulum. Meckel's is a congenital health issue that usually shows symptoms in the first few years of a child's life.

"He never had any symptoms of it. He started coming down with flu-like symptoms on Friday, March 24. There was regular vomiting, but he wasn't in any pain," said Ethan's mother, Sarah Hedeen.

In the following days, the abnormal intestinal pouch reattached to the stomach wall and caused his intestines to twist. Sarah said the doctors had no reason to believe Meckel's was present due to the sudden nature of the illness and the lack of typical symptoms.

"They gave him medicine to help with his stomach and that worked for a few hours, but eventually his intestines just died," Sarah said.

In the wake of the tragedy, volunteers and citizens from all over have banded together to make a proper memorial to Ethan.

A rock garden is close to being completed. The idea was originally put together by Sarah's sister-in-law only days after the news of Ethan's death.

"Some of the rocks are people who wanted to show support. Some people south of Rochester brought big boulders up, and people I don't even know have sent Facebook messages or cards. The outpouring and loving support has been amazing," Sarah said.

The memorial is a fitting tribute to a boy who loved collecting rocks. According to his mom, Ethan's room was full of boxes of rocks and he always loved to finding new, cool rocks. He found many on the bluff above their land, along with some from the foundation where their house was built a few years ago.

The newly built garden has an extensive collection of rocks, with a variety coming from family, friends, church members and strangers who wanted to build upon the growing collection being assembled in the Hedeens' yard.

A sandbox, wishing well and rows of trees have been added in the loving support given by many who had never even met Ethan. A walking bridge will be the final step in completing the project.

"A lot of local businesses have chipped in by lending equipment and giving their time," Sarah said.

They started working on Memorial Day. In two days, the major work was done. Sarah hopes the project can be completed in the next couple of weeks.

The garden should be a fitting tribute to the boy who loved rocks, whose memory and life will continued to be celebrated by the diverse collection.

"We wanted to come out and do something to honor him and get everyone together," Sarah said.

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