Remembering Zachary- Summer Blues and Sweet Surprises

At this stage in my life, about to turn 35, the thing I enjoy most is a great day with my family. We like to explore the outdoors, go for walks, play at the park, visit with family… just about anything as long as we're all together. But...

I. Miss. Zachary.

I don't just miss my sweet chubby little Meatball who was 14 months old when he was taken from me.

I miss the little man that he would be today. 

I miss the dynamic that he would add to our family. 

I miss the sweet smile he would flash me while playing with his little brother and big sister.

I miss the hugs he would only share with his mom before bedtime.

I miss the chance to watch him play with his friends.

I miss the last 9 years without him by my side. 

 
 "Family, where life begins and love never ends."

"Family, where life begins and love never ends."

Summer time is usually a time to relax and unwind. I have the summers off to spend with my kiddos and just enjoy time with them. I'm not busy with work responsibilities, and I have the time for just about anything. I have come to believe that spare time isn't a good companion of grief.  I've found myself crying a lot more throughout the summer because I've missed Zach. I'm angrier at the articles I read about crimes against children and sentences handed down as it reopens wounds. I feel more alone in my grief as I watch the world continue to function around me. With 9 years passed it's easy to slip into the hole where you wonder who still thinks of Zachary or misses him like I do? I've found myself avoiding certain movies like Heaven is for Real because I don't want to face my grief right now. I've avoided writing in my blog because I didn't want to deal with the very real feelings of being a mom who only has 2 of her 3 children. It feels cowardly, but sometimes I just want to be grief free, but being without grief still means living in a world without Zachary. I'm not sure I'll ever be ready for that. Grief is like a lead blanket that weighs you down, particularly on your chest. It makes you feel like you can't breath and every part of your body can physically hurt. Several times this summer I've heard myself saying, NOT NOW grief, NOT NOW, NOT NOW. I guess it's kind of like cheating and trying to push it aside, take the lead blanket off and breath a bit before I wear it again. 

Thankfully I have a wonderful support system who will not let me down. Because of Zachary's Law, Marley's Mission, Zachary's Heroes and The Remembering Zachary Project, I find that my year is peppered with little sweet surprises here and there. They are like flashes of Zachary when I least expect it. I have to admit HOW MUCH I LOVE IT! My life after 2005, when Zachary passed, means I won't ever get to do any of the things I mentioned above. Instead what I get are these moments, these surprises. This is the closest I can come to him. When a friend or family member does something to remember Zach it gives me a moment of joy. I feel like Zachary's a NOW and not a THEN. 

On July 4th I got one of those moments. It took me nearly two months to share with you but I can promise you that I've looked at this sweet surprise every single day since and it's brought me a smile each day. My Aunt Rita painted a special picture for me. The picture she painted was from one of the best days we have had in memory of Zachary, his 10th birthday celebration. She captured a moment and some special words for me. I am so grateful for her thoughtfulness. Thank you Aunt Rita for bringing me joy this summer. 

 
 

I'm also thrilled to share that Zachary's Way, a pathway named after Zachary at Marley's Mission, is under construction. Pavers have been laid, landscaping is on the way, and the handmade sign by my father is nearly ready. I'm certain I don't have the right words to express how I feel. My dear friends have given me yet another way to keep Zachary forever in all of our hearts.  How can you thank someone for that gift? I wish Zachary's Way was a place I could visit after a day at work, or at night when I'm feeling like I need to have him close, but I'm so glad that it will be at a place where many people will get to know him, love him and remember him. I am counting down the days until I get to see it in person. It will be BEAUTIFUL. I love the texts Gene and April have sent me, letting me see the progress. I am forever grateful. 

 A beautiful memorial

A beautiful memorial

I'm looking forward to the next time I sit down to write, when I can share with you the beauty of Zachary's Way.