Another month has passed. It makes me happy to celebrate Zachary’s life each day, but it also makes me sad to know that every day that passes is another day we’ve spent without him.
This project has helped me to feel closer to Zachary. It’s been a long journey to get to where I am today. I remember I time when I was nervous when I’d meet people and they used to ask the standard questions. Are you married? Do you have children? How many? How old are they. Nine times out of ten these simple questions would lead to a very uncomfortable conversation or tears. I’m proud that I’ve come to grow more open to these questions. I love that everyone is aware of who Zachary is. I am happy that when my friends look at me, they see a mother of 3. Zachary has grown to be a very public part of my life and I love talking about him and celebrating him.
This project has only helped to reinforce all these positive feelings.
This month was really special. Zachary was remembered in many ways.
Last month at school I was able to do many things to help raise awareness for Child Abuse Awareness Month. I may not have talked directly about Zachary to my class, but his spirit definitely shone through! It is Zachary who drives me and inspires me to be a voice for awareness. It was clear to me that my students recognized my passion and excitement. One of the activities I was able to do was hold a Pajama’s for Charity. I wrote about it last month. I was so proud because we initially raised $800 for Marley’s Mission. After PJ day more donations continued to come in. Several students in 4th grade came to me with a huge smile on. They shared the creative ways that they collected money. Awareness and funds were raised from donating their Easter money, selling drinks at a drink stand, walking dogs, selling cake pops and donating money through a garage sale. I was amazed at the thoughtfulness of each special donation. I feel like I shared a smile with Zachary. I know he would be happy to see kids helping kids.
One of my students even had a shirt made with Marley’s Mission on one side and “We love Mrs. McLaughlin” on the other. It makes you happy when you realize you’ve made an impact.
My Mother and Father In-Law shared their idea with me too. They have decided to purchase some bushes to be planted with the Remembering Zachary Benches! I can’t wait to see our new benches set up at Marley’s Mission. They will be set in a peaceful area, among beautiful plants. Although Zachary never got to meet some of his family, it’s touching to know he’s still accepted and treated as part of the family.
For Mother’s Day this year, Bill bought me an angel to sit in my garden. It sits perfectly next to my memorial stone that he got me last year. I see reminders of Zachary everywhere. We love that. Mother’s Day was not an easy day for me. I did have a wonderful day with my family. We went on a day trip together to explore Virginia. It was peaceful. My kids told me how much they loved me and we just enjoyed the day together. Among the smiles were tears. It’s impossible to not think of the piece of you that’s missing. My family did a good job of helping me through it.
Cathy and I got to sit down this month and work on the program for the benefit concert she is organizing at her church, this fall. The program looks great and I am super excited to see how this event comes together. I am so proud of Cathy for organizing this event and I am happy to help her in any way she needs. I am really looking forward to October!
Dan, a great friend of mine, made me a unique picture. It’s if you look carefully you can see Zachary faintly looking back at you from the clouds. Pictures make me smile and this picture made me smile big!
Finally Katie gave me two very special gifts. She surprised me with a blue ribbon magnet for my car that says Zachary! It is perfect. As soon as I got it I put it on my car. The kids and I check it out every day. I love how my children have become excited about this project too.
Katie wasn’t done! May 24th is the day that Zachary passed. This year marked 8 years without him. Katie helped take a very difficult day and make it positive. While I wasn’t at work she planned the perfect idea. She purchased blue balloons for her entire class. Katie wrote Zachary a special message on her balloon and then she had all her students go outside to release them in celebration of all the wonderful things that have been done for Child Abuse Awareness and our Marley’s Mission project. She didn’t stop there. She made it a lasting memory for my family by taking pictures and videos and turning it into a movie for me! My family sat down around the computer and watched it together many times! It brought tears. If you haven’t seen it yet, please take a look.
Overall, May has been another special month in his memory. Zachary was remembered by so many people and I received so many loving messages and phone calls to help me get through a hard day. One text in particular made me realize just how much of an impact Zachary has had. Kathleen Kane, Pennsylvania’s Attorney General, texted me to tell me that she was thinking of me and Zachary. She reminded me to smile because that’s what he would want him mommy to do. I couldn’t help but smile and cry happy tears. Zachary is being remembered.
Here’s to an amazing June.
<3 Zachary's Mom