Another month has passed and I continue to be humbled at the ways Zachary is being remembered.
I got a pleasant surprise early in November. My dear friend Pam sent me a text message. Pam and I met when we were in college. We pretty much spent every moment together. :) After graduation life took off but Pam and I made sure to keep in touch at least yearly. Sadly one of the effects of losing Zach was the loss of my drive to reach out and do things. Although Pam and I don't talk as much as we should I want her to know just how grateful I am for her. She is such a kind and loving person. When I sent letters out for this project, Pam was one of the first names I thought of. I didn't know what to expect when reaching out. I guess at the very least I just wanted all of my friends and family to know about my efforts to make Zachary's 10th birthday amazing. I was beyond excited when I got the text from Pam that said she shared Marley's Mission and Zachary with her coworkers. Every month her coworkers donate money to dress down and each month they choose a different cause. Last month they choose Marley's Mission in honor of Zachary.
I'm so thankful that she shared Zachary's story and about the very special work of the Mission. It gives me a warm fuzzy to know that every time Zachary's story is told, he's being remembered and child abuse awareness is growing exponentially.
Here is what Pam wrote to me:
I remember when Zachary was born. Soon after, I bundled up my own little boy who is only a few months older to visit and help. We had ourselves a special sleep over. Zach was this round-faced bundle of sweetness I couldn't hold enough. He was pleasant and content and I was so happy for my dear friend. The circumstances were not perfect, but this little boy was. Looking back, I am so glad we did that. It is not easy to take time away to have a grade-school type sleep over when you are adults with jobs and new babies. But I like to remember you that way. You were tired, a little frustrated and worried but oh so happy with your new joy.
While you have much joy in your life now, I realize your joy always feels different. Like a soldier who came home from a war, your joy is always from a different perspective. You are strong in ways I cannot imagine. You make me cry in compassion, yet you make my heart smile. You are an inspiration, my dear Christiney. Who knew when you were going to college learning to inspire young minds that you would reach out to us all? Zach's story is a heartbreaking tragedy. One that no mother should ever have to endure. Your story makes sense of the tragedy and creates something better.
I chose October because it was Zach's birthday that brought us together for our last innocent hurrah. We were both new moms (me newer than you as you already had experience with Kenzy). We were both tired and thankful to be together with our happy little bundles. We had little to worry about except everything....but we did have time to go out for dinner!
When we chose foundations and charities at my school, sometimes people explain why, and sometimes they don't. When I suggested Marley's Mission, I told them your story. I told them what you overcame and how much you have done. I told them because everyone needs to know what an inspiration you are. I am so proud of you. When I grow up, I hope to be just like you!
Love you Pam!
This month my sister also did something else to Remember Zachary. Her church participates in Operation Christmas Child. When I heard she was doing this I told her about Aunt Rita's Remembering Zachary Project. She made bookmarks to stuff in the shoe-boxes that were to be sent to children in need. Anny said she would make up a bookmark too and she would put them in her churches shoe-boxes.
Our church participated in Operation Christmas child. It is shoe box gifts for needy kids all around the world. They give out millions of them per year. As a church family, we collected donations of items to pack in boxes and this morning we assembled boxes with the donated items. It was our goal to pack 500! Families came, there was a time of fellowship and instruction. I gave a brief speech about Zach and the bookmarks. Each box packed received a bookmark and each box was prayed over. The scripture on the bookmark is Matthew 19:14 Jesus said, "let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven."
Not only is Zachary being remembered by adults but he's being remembered by kiddos too. November 24th was the coldest day of the year so far. With a 9 degree windchill Mandy, Kenzy and I woke up and got ready for the Girls on the Run 5k. It was so bitterly cold but the girls running the race were all pumped! McKenzy's friend, Rachael decided to dedicate her run to Zachary! She surprised me before the race, by showing me her wrist. She drew Z's all around her wrist. Heidi, Rachael's mom has been so supportive since the day we've met. She's taken Zachary's story and she's shared it with her children. I can feel the love her family has for him. Thinking about it is extraordinary. He has been gone for nearly 9 years yet he's loved by people who have never met him. No words for that feeling. Thank you Rachael for remembering my little boy and dedicating your race to him!
Kenzy also decided to run for Zachary too this month. Thanksgiving morning we all signed up to walk the Turkey Trot, but Kenzy signed up to run it with Colleen for her Remembering Zachary Project. Kenzy and I talked about setting a goal for herself. She wanted to run better. Earlier that week she ran the Girls on the Run 5k with her friends and she ran it in 43 minutes. Her goal was to break into the 30's. Colleen ran with her and helped her blow her goal out of the water. Kenzy ran it in 30 min 50 seconds! She told me that she tried her best for her brother. While Kenzy was running with Colleen, Liam decided he wanted to run instead of walk. As he pushed himself we talked about Zachary and I told him about what Kenzy was doing. He said he wanted to do his best for his big brother too. He was over the moon when he crossed his finish line. He said that he bets Zachary is very thankful for him and Kenzy.
Here is a letter Kenzy wrote to Zachary telling him about her morning.
This month, I was inspired to run a race for you. The Turkey Trot, on Thanksgiving! It was really cold! So many people were pumped to do this, and I was for you! I couldn’t wait to get it done and feel good about myself. My second cousin, Taylor, my Aunt Ginny, Liam,Mom, Dad, Grand Barb, and Grandpa Joe all came for Thanksgiving, which meant they had to come to the race as well. My mom’s friend Colleen, and her two sons’, Aidan and Carter, were running it with me while Mom and everyone else was walking it. Colleen would not let me stop running! I was really tired at the end, but I made good timing! 30 minutes and 50 seconds! Mom and Colleen were so proud of me! After that, it was time to leave. Leaving meant waiting in a car line for an hour! Since Grand Barb has a car and Mom has a car, some people wanted DD (Dunkin Doughnuts) and others wanted Starbucks. Our car went one way and the other car the other way. I got a cold drink while everyone got a hot one. We all got yummy, yummy doughnuts! And that is how I got here. I immediately came to the computer to write! Love you! Happy gobble day!
Colleen finished more races this month for her project- 10 Races for 10 Years.
Here's her fundraising page: http://www.stayclassy.org/fundraise?fcid=261373
and Here's a link to her most recent blog: http://10runningfeet.blogspot.com
What she is doing is inspiring! We look forward to watching the rest of her journey in memory of Zach. Here's one of my favorite parts of her post:
There's something to be said about spending a few hours on the trail, by yourself, pushing your legs and heart to move faster than what is comfortable so that you can make yourself and the ones you care about proud. Because just going out and running a marathon for Zachary and those that have shared running experiences with me isn't enough. I feel an obligation to do better than what I thought was my best, and that still doesn't feel like enough. I beat my personal best Marathon time by 44 seconds on Sunday, 3:32:50. I was the 2nd fastest woman in this race and although I was proud of myself and what I accomplished, I want to do more. I'm excited about what the next two marathons will bring. What limits I can push, what self-developed boundaries I can cross. The sky is the limit when the love from other people is on your side.
My mom also felt like she wanted to write about Zachary again. She looked through her pictures to post one with her writing. When she tagged me I was taken aback because it was a picture that I hadn't remembered. I found myself just looking at the picture for hours. It lead to the discovery of a few more pictures too. What started off as a heartache revealed itself to be a tremendous gift. I'm happy to have a few new pictures of him around the house. Thank you mom for sharing your feelings about Zachary with all of us.
November was a great month! Things have already happened for December and I can't wait to share them in next month's note.
Thank you all for coming on this journey with me. I am so thankful.
<3 Zachary's Mom