Last weekend we went to Pennsylvania to celebrate the 4th annual Blue Ribbon Gala for Marley's Mission. It is always a great weekend spent with family and friends.
I walked into the event and within seconds I saw Zachary's benches. The Gala's decor was beautiful. It felt like you were strolling though a park. It was a great feeling to see Zachary's presence everywhere. All seven of the benches were brought from the Mission to the Gala. I bet as people sat on his benches they said his name. The dining room was also decorated with sweet little silhouettes of children and at each table setting were cards for our website. I got to share Zachary with each person that attended. When you looked up above the dance floor there were stars hanging from the ceiling. Beautiful stars. I've read that stars are openings to heaven where our loved ones can watch over us. Zachary was certainly watching over us with pride.
One of the things I love most about the Gala is the people. It is such an inspiring feeling to be surrounded by so many amazing individuals who share the same passion as you. Each year I attend I meet more and more people and I get to share Zachary. This year we took the opportunity to share Zachary's new project with others who would help us launch it. I loved the smiles and the positive feedback we got. I'm really eager to see how it develops.
Before we were seated and the program began I got to talk to an incredible woman. Kathleen Kane was this years recipient of the Remembering Zachary Award. She is the first woman to be elected at Pennsylvania's Attorney General. She worked in the District Attorney's office when my son passed away. Throughout the years she remembered me and Zachary. In January she invited me to the Capitol Building for her inauguration because she followed along with Zachary's Law and she was proud of the work that had been done on his behalf. Each time we've talked she's had nothing but wonderful and surreal things to say about me and my son. I cannot correctly express to you how profound it is to take a step back and realize that Zachary is leaving his imprint on one heart after another. I think what I'll remember most is when she said to me that I'm incredible. Me. Chrissy. Incredible. You know that taking a compliment somehow seems like the hardest thing in the world. But taking a compliment from Pennsylvania's Attorney General.... crazy. She's incredible. She is strong and making a difference day after day. But I smiled, tried to take it in and realized the years of work, celebrations, and tears that were the making of her words. I love Zachary. When I hear words like Kathleen's I feel Zachary's love.
Each year it is a blessing to be able to present this award to some very deserving people. When Gene called my name and he explained who Zachary was, I teared up. It's like those scenes in a movie when they freeze the character in real time, but we get to see in their thoughts when moments of their life flash by. A movie played in my head of all of these snippets of the past 10 years. I cannot believe the journey I've been on and how far I've come from the moment Zachary was taken from me. I just feel proud. I feel like I'm living up to the title Mommy. Zachary IS here. Zachary IS a very big part of this world. Zachary IS being remembered.
Thank you Kathleen for accepting Zachary's Award and for being a voice for children. You are tremendous.
Thank you Gene and April for being such a big part of my journey. You are forever family and I am forever in.
I am already looking forward to what this upcoming year will hold and coming together again to celebrate Marley's Mission.