The news had been encouraging overall. Ezra "Ephoenix" Chatterton, the Make-A-Wish recipient who had visited the Blizzard offices and been granted a lot of wonderful World of Warcraft gifts, seemed to be doing better until he had a stroke in August. Even still, the family remained hopeful. But this past Monday, in a sad turn of events, Ezra lost his valiant battle with cancer. Gamers the world over have posted messages, sent emails, and taken the time in-game to commemorate his passing, and to remember the courage and determination with which he'd faced his battle. Blizzard has also offered their condolences.
As part of his Make-A-Wish trip, the folks at Blizzard had granted Ezra the ability to design and voice his own quest ("Kyle's Gone Missing!" available to all Horde players in Mulgore), worked with him to design his own weapon (Merciless Gladiator's Crossbow of the Phoenix) and he was given the world-first player-owned (Ashes of Al'ar) Phoenix mount. As time passed, a World of Warcraft TCG card was also created for him, showing off Ezra's beloved Tauren Hunter, with the name Ezra Phoenix. Further, Ezra was also credited for giving Blizzard the idea for the broom mounts now familiar to those who have celebrated Hallow's End in WoW. Ezra's father, Micah Chatterton, has been in contact with this blogger on occasion, letting us know about young Ezra's love of video games, his son's desire to become a developer when he grew up, his progress and his undeniable spirit. After Ezra's passing earlier this week, Micah sent along a message to us for the World of Warcraft community as well. In honor of Ezra and his family, we are reprinting it in full behind the cut.
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Micah's Open Letter:
Ezra died at 9:45 on Monday night. The cancer attacked those portions of the brain that control breathing, and his lungs eventually shut down. He was conscious until the very end, and though he couldn't speak, he could still communicate with me through hand gestures and nods. Ezra was in pain, gasping for breath, and very scared, but up to a few hours before he died, he was asking for ice cream and choosing the things I read to him. As much as I feared the cancer would take his mind and memory away from him, he held onto those as long as he could.
The ironies are sickening. Ezra's mind was always his greatest strength, and stayed strong even as his brain was malfunctioning. His spirit and his will to live life well grew so amazing powerful all the way to the point that his life was taken from him. No one I have ever met was as talented at finding the bright side of a horrible situation, adapting his worldview to whatever new hardship befell him, and generally milking every last drop of happiness he could out of life as Ezra, and he's the one who is taken. The one person in my life who most loved living and was most exceptionally gifted at it, and he's the one who is taken.
I say these things because I am in pain, because I miss my son so much, and because Ezra's death is an undeniable tragedy. It is the world's loss that he doesn't get to do more, and fulfill his great potential. But I also hope that I can learn from his example. When Ezra couldn't walk anymore, he turned to World of Warcraft. When he couldn't see, he turned to music, or our pets, or food, or directing me to play World of Warcraft for him. The trick was that, as his world got smaller, he just looked at it more closely. If I am to take any shred of good from this suffering, I'll have to learn from him.
I hope to honor my son by learning to love my life as much as he did. It will take a long time to get to that point, especially now that my greatest joy is gone, but Ezra would demand it of me. I ask the WoW community, who have been so generous and kind to us, to please help me honor Ezra by doing the same in your hearts. Ezra's sickness and painful death was a tragedy, an experience that showed me a glimpse of how easily suffering can invade your life, but his response to it showed me how a strong will can overcome that suffering. As well, the outpouring of love from all WoW players all over the globe showed me how wonderful people can be to someone they've never met. Our bodies are fragile, but our hearts are incredibly strong. A tumor the size of a raisin is enough to destroy the brain, but our minds are so much more powerful and immense than the brain.
My son, Ezra Phoenix Chatterton, Ephoenix the Hunter, Squirlanator the Mage, is gone. All we have left in this world are memories of him. Please remember that he was a good person, smart and clever but also very kind, that he loved to play World of Warcraft, that he loved rice pudding and fettucine alfredo, and that he went through so much pain and still found ways to smile all the way to the end. Please remember too the kindness of Blizzard, and the overwhelming love of the WoW community. Without these gifts, Ezra would still have found a way to be happy and optimistic, just not as easily. Thank you all for helping him through the suffering.
Strength and Honor, young Ezra.
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