Another spectacular month has passed. In honor of Zachary’s upcoming 10th birthday (3/4/14) I’ve proposed that this year, the year between his 9th and 10th birthday, that we do something special to remember him in a meaningful way. April was full of just that. If it’s possible, my heart has been smiling all month. I have so many amazing things to share with you!
Child Abuse Awareness Month
A special thank you to my Principal, Bob for allowing me to do so many wonderful things at my school. I am very grateful. I’ll start with some of the things I did in Zachary’s memory. April is Child Abuse Awareness Month. This is a month, for the past few years that I have found my voice. I have decided to step up and do what I can to spread awareness and honor my son’s life. I’ve posted positive messages and pictures throughout this month on our Facebook page, CHILD (www.facebook.com/childorg). Through my posts I’ve tried to inspire others to speak up about this cause and educate people about child abuse.
My family, Katie and I kicked off the month by decorating a Blue Ribbon Tree at school. All of our students and families were greeted with the beautiful tree each morning.
Some of the other things I did this month were teach my students about child abuse awareness. We colored blue pinwheels and decorated the halls. I shared the lesson with the other teachers and many of them did the same thing! It has made me smile to see the halls decorated with the things that make the children happy. I also organized a Wear Blue Day and our school hosted our second annual Pajamas for Charity! We raised over$1,000 that will be donated to Marley’s Mission. Among the money raised, $200 came from some very caring students who decided to put together a drink stand.They didn’t stop there. They went around their neighborhood and told everyone about Marley’s Mission! It was priceless to see their faces when they came to school on Monday to tell me what they accomplished! It is very special to see kids helping kids.
When talking to Gene about what I wanted this project to be, I was so excited when he had the idea of raising money for a bench to be placed at Marley’s Mission in Zachary’s honor. The support was overwhelming. Just shy of two days we had raised enough money for one bench. By the end of March we had just about enough for 3 benches. In another months time I am ecstatic to tell you that we can now purchase 7 benches! I am so thankful for all of my wonderful friends who donated so generously this month!
I want to give a very special thank you to someone I am lucky to call a friend. David has been an angel these past few years, but he will never admit it! David came into my life several years ago when he first called me to learn more about Zachary’s Law. He offered his valuable advice and guidance, seeing us all the way through to the Governor’s desk. David was also this year’s recipient of the Remembering Zachary Award from Marley’s Mission. I’m thankful that our paths have crossed. What he has done for me and continues to do, is priceless. He has so graciously donated an entire bench, in Zachary’s memory, to Marley’s Mission! Thank you so muchDavid!
I first need to thank Mandy for the beautiful flowers she sent to me on Zachary’s birthday! It started what will be this amazing year in such an uplifting way.
Mandy also continued to help me raise awareness by designing these beautiful infinity scarves for Child Abuse Awareness Month. She sold around 15 of them. Every time I saw one of my teammates wear their scarves, I felt unspoken support. I knew they were Remembering Zachary and helping support the cause. Thank you Mandy for this very special project!
Amanda thought of the most perfect idea! She enjoys gardening, so she decided to get a blue Forget Me Not plant to plant in her garden. When she looks at it, she will Remember Zachary, and its blue color will spread awareness to everyone who knows about this plant.
Kelly will be purchasing games throughout the year and then donating them to a woman’s shelter. She will be putting labels on them to Remember Zachary. I love this idea because many women and their children will come to the shelter because they need help for various reasons. Because of Zachary’s life and Kelly’s generosity, these children will be thought of.
Cathy belongs to the choir in her church. She has been my friend for nearly 4 years. Cathy has listened to me cry about my Zachary and laugh when I’ve told his stories. She knows just how much his memory means to me. She also knows just how special my friends at Marley’s Mission are to me. She’s proposed the idea to her choir and the pastor of her church, to have a benefit concert for Zachary. All of the proceeds raised would be donated to Marley’s Mission. I am so excited to see how this unfolds and I cannot wait to help her in any way she needs me to.
A few weekends ago, Heidi and her family took a trip to Penn State for their Blue and White game. Her family goes every year and they cherish the time they spend together. You can’t really mention PSU without Heidi in the same sentence. :) I was so surprised when she messaged me after she returned home. She turned a very special family weekend into a way to Remember Zachary. They waited until it was later in the evening and they walked to the Nittany Lion together. Heidi wrote Zachary a beautiful message on a balloon. Then her kids all released the balloon together. She said Zachary’s memory is a reminder to cherish one another.
Lauri has always thought of ways to show me that she cares. Just two months ago for Zachary’s birthday, before she knew about this project, she got me a gift. It was a hippo purse (my favorite). She gave me the purse and said it was for his birthday. I carry that thing everywhere and when I see it I think of Lauri and Zachary.
My wonderful sister, Anny, is walking in Zachary’s memory this year. She picked a cause that means a lot to her in connection with her church. She is supporting the Care Center that provides help for women through crisis pregnancies. I’m going to quote her, because I think she said it perfectly.
This year is extra special to me because I am walking in memory of my beautiful nephew, Zachary, who would be turning 10 this year. As many of you know, Zachary's life on this earth was too brief. As a family it has become so important to us that children be protected and loved and advocated for. This is my way of continuing in that family effort with a cause that is close to my heart. Through this ministry and your support, a chance atlife, hope and a future will be held out to these precious babies who SO need someone to intercede for them.
My mother has been writing these beautiful poems. I am not the best at writing. I don’t follow any conventions and I normally just let my words flow, falling as they may. It has never been a strength of mine and I envy the people who can put words to paper so beautifully. Here is one of the poems she wrote:
Some days, when the world is quiet around me,
I can hear a small voice, a happy voice, very faint.
It makes me stop and think and then, like lightning strikes.
I remember HIM, I remember Zachary….
My darling Grandchild, such a blessing for a very short time,
Are you ok, are you happy? And at that moment I am reassured,
Yes, he is happy. Don’t you know Granbarb? I am forever an angel,
I’m here with God.
When you’re driving and someone cuts you off, it is me pulling at the wheel.
Guiding you safely along. Don’t you feel me near you?
It is me amongst the stars in the sky twinkling and smiling at you
It’s me listening to you tell my story over and over again.
I am there when you cry, I am with you always. My memory lives on.
Granbarb, a thousand years is like a day in my world, so I will see you tomorrow.
I’ll be waiting anxiously for Mommy and you, for all our family
I know she keeps telling me that she’s trying to think of the perfect project but I have to thank her anyway and I hope she doesn’t mind. She has texted me pictures, inspirational poems, songs, videos… you name it. Each and every one having to do with Zachary. She Remembers Zachary all the time and she makes me feel like when I talk to hers he is always aware that I have 3 children and not just 2. So thank you Katie for supporting me. Thank you for decorating the tree with me and being excited for me each step of the way. Your friendship means a lot to me!
Each year on Zachary’s birthday, it has become a tradition to release balloons to him in heaven. We spend the day together as a family celebrating his life and cherishing our time together. Kim has offered to come to celebrate his 10th birthday with us next year. I cannot tell you just how excited this makes me! Kim is someone who has given me some of my most prized possessions, my pictures. She has photographed all of my babies! She photographed McKenzy at 12 months, Zachary at 6 months and Liam at 3 months. Her beautiful pictures are adorned all over my home. At the end of this year, we will be celebrating his 10th birthday as a family again. We will look back on this year and see all of the tremendous things that were done in his honor and how he was remembered. I will cherish the pictures that Kim takes for us and I welcome her into our celebration.
Finally, last but not least is my darling McKenzy. She has a tremendous heart. Just last week for Pajamas for Charity, she decided she wanted to give a very generous donation. She had saved her birthday and Christmas money for quite some time and she felt like the right thing to do was make a donation to Marley’s Mission. She had her heart set on doing it because she loves Gene, April and the Mission. She appreciates how they help remember her brother and most importantly she loves what they do for children. She wrote a letter explaining why this meant so much to her. I’ll share her ending with you. She said:
I just wanted to say, I am donating this in memory of Zachary and all the children in the world who have been abused.
Bless her heart!
After sitting down to write this month’s note, I cannot believe just how many people there were to thank! I am so fortunate to each and every one of you. Because of the special ways you are choosing to remember my son, I am lifted up! I am looking forward to each day in anticipation of the wonderful things that are happening. His 10thbirthday will be unforgettable!
<3 Zachary's Mom