Back in 2005, these next five days passed and I didn't realize anything out of the ordinary was wrong with Zachary. He came home sick from daycare the day before. Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday passed. Tuesday would be his last.
So why do I torture myself every year and relive these five days? Why do I share this story with you every year? The answer is simple. I do it to honor his life and to spread awareness about the silent epidemic that took it.
Although I don't have an exact recollection of each day, I'll never forget the the feelings and emotions that are embedded in my bones.
May 19: Today was the beginning of the end of my son Zachary's life. I remember this day well. Zachary had a fever while at daycare and needed to stay home for 24 hours. Justin offered to take care of him for me. I kissed my baby goodbye and went to work, thinking he was safe in the care of Justin. I came home later that day after work, and he appeared to be sick still. I sat with him on the couch and rubbed his back for a while. He was fussy. Justin said he was nauseous earlier in the day. I called the doctor to see what I should do for his symptoms. They said it sounded like the stomach bug that was going around and they told me what to do. I followed their advice. I did what I thought was right, all along not knowing what was really wrong.
May 20: Over the next 24 hours, Zachary continued to show signs of being sick. I gave him medicine, fed him the BRATT diet and loved him up.
May 21: Over these next 24 hours, things continued the same. Zachary acted sick, and he was cared for. We didn't know what the next few days were going to hold, but it was blessing that Zachary got to spend them with his mommy, daddy and big sister. What any of us would have given to have known the truth and be able to change things. Zachary would continue to suffer in silence for the next few days.
May 22: Over these next 24 hours, Zach still showed signs of being sick but something different was noticed today; a bruise on the back of his head under his hairline. It looked like what you would see looking at a bruised apple, some discoloration & tender. Called the doctor & explained what I saw, followed the advice given & gave him lots of love. Justin still said nothing. Only he knew the truth
May 23: It was a Monday. Zachary's father was still in town. He spent one more day with his children. I went to work and because of some circumstance out of my control I got to go home early that day. We spent some time together, the four of us. Steve and I weren't together anymore, but it was a nice afternoon. I remember taking Zachary outside for some fresh air. He stood in our yard, smiled a little, but he still wasn't acting like himself. These would be the last hours I spent with him.
May 24: I had called the doctor twice (Thursday and Sunday), but hadn't taken him in yet. Biggest regret of my life. I couldn't have loved my children more or have been more concerned about their health. What it boiled down to was I couldn't afford the doctor. I had just been in recently with Zachary's sister and I tried to delay another office visit. I told myself that if he wasn't better today I was taking him in. I called from school on my break and found out that Zachary hadn't even woken up yet. That wasn't right. I called my mom who was closer to my house than I was. We both called Justin and told him to call the ambulance. I ran out of school and drove home. Each minute feeling like an hour. I had no cell phone and no idea which hospital he went to. I needed to get home first to find out. I learned that the ambulance got a police escort to the hospital. I was minutes behind my baby. When I arrived they sat me down in the waiting room and eventually took me back to see Zach. I was expecting to see his sweet little smile. That's not what was waiting for me. This is where time melts together in my memory. I don't know what happened... all I know is the sheer terror I felt when the doctor eventually shook his head and told me that he was gone.
All along Justin, the person we later found out who knew the truth, said nothing. He tried to comfort me... comfort my family. He said I'm sorry. I had no idea that what he was really saying was I'm sorry because I DID THIS! He saw my worry over the past several days. He saw me call the doctor and comfort my little boy. All along he knew he punched Zachary on May 19th with enough force to send his body flying across the room and hit his head on my glass table. He said NOTHING. The truth still didn't come out for several days. It wasn't until an autopsy was done and he was questioned by the police that he ultimately gave his confession. To read Zachary's complete story you can click here.
Zachary, you are NEVER forgotten and you're always in my heart. I am so sorry for the pain that you endured. I am so sorry that I couldn't fix it. I love you sweet boy. xoxo- Mommy.