I wanted to re-post this Facebook Note I wrote from January, 2012 in honor of April's birthday. She's been such a blessing in my life. Everything in this note still holds true and I have a few things to add since it's been 3 1/2 years.
How Has April Changed My Life?
January 27, 2012
She’s empowered me to realize the potential of what one person can do.
Because of her tenacity and take charge attitude I have experienced some of the most memorable times of my life.
I thought something like graduating college would make my top 10 list, but I’m not sure it does anymore. That was a day for ME. I’ve realized since I met April that some of the best days I’ve had were because of what we could do for OTHERS.
I thought I would enter her life as someone she could lean on. I think I did that, but soon she became someone I could lean on too. She became someone I could just look at and knew she understood just how I felt.
Because of April’s crazy idea to collect enough money in a short amount of time to sponsor a race in PA for the CAC… it was accomplished in minutes through my parent’s generosity. We even way exceeded our goal and were able to raise much more for the center. I got to have an incredible day that for me and my family was a celebration of Zachary’s life.
Because April has a huge heart she helped me celebrate Zachary’s birthday last year. You know she’s never met Zachary. She just knew how hard of a day it is for me. It’s become a tradition to release balloons for Zachary. We each write notes on the balloons and let them fly up to heaven. It’s an intimate family thing we do. It just helps. It gives the day a focus. You know what April did? She got a bunch of balloons at the Mission. She wrote messages on them with others and she released them. I also got a birthday card and a beautiful balloon bouquet here at my house in Virginia...all for Zachary. It was like he really did have a birthday. She knew that even though my son may be gone, that a mother still wants her child remembered. What a great feeling to know she was celebrating his birthday with me.
Because April has a loud and passionate voice, she made me realize that my voice could actually get the attention of others too. Her fire inside helped ignite the fire of others around her. I used my voice to talk to people about Zachary and our tremendous loss. I learned about the role of our local legislators. Her drive to succeed inspired me. I succeeded at getting the attention of many very important friends in the House of Representatives and getting our bill to where it was today.
Because of April’s help, more people know about me. Me! They know me as a determined mother; a mother to some very special kiddos and a mother of an angel. I think that because of this I just may be helping others too.
Because April is a good friend she's taught me more about the importance of really putting myself out there to help, even if it may be difficult. During some of my most important days, she'll make sure she's there with me for support. Like just this week we met in Harrisburg, when Zachary's Law was being voted on. I thanked her for being there, but she thought I was crazy. Where else would she be, she was thinking.
Because April is sincere and compassionate she thought of including me in the Marley’s Mission family. Although I don’t live nearby and I’m not able to do as much as others in helping her organization… she still wanted to include me and honor my son. She named an award after Zachary (The Remembering Zachary Award). She and the Mission give the award to someone who is an advocate against child abuse. Each year someone will strive to do the right thing for children in Zachary’s name.
July 29, 2015
Because of April's vision I now have a home away from home called Zachary's Way. The words thank you will never be enough to say to her. Every time I visit Zachary's Way I feel peace in my heart and I'm humbled to be there. You can't help but feel the love for him when you sit on his benches and take in the stillness all around you. It's magical.
Because of April's love and unwavering support we now have Zachary's Law. She gave me the confidence I needed to push through this process. Through her dedication to her daughters, I saw what a mother's love could do and I knew I could be just as powerful if I didn't give up either. She helped me make sure Zachary is in the hearts of others.
Because of April's openness I first shared Zachary's story through written word many years ago. She posted it on Marley's Mission's website. She wanted to help me remember my son by sharing his story with others. I broke a barrier I was so afraid of and I embraced it. I was nervous to share my words and such a personal story. I didn't have control anymore of who would read them and what they'd think. After letting go and telling myself it would be okay, I saw that once I got my words out and shed some tears everything was not only okay, but I felt better. Sharing Zachary's story was the first step in pushing past some of my fears. It's enabled me to continue to share my words and ultimately build this very special website that is dedicated to his memory.
I wanted to make sure April knew that she was more than just a great person. She is an Inspiration. It's clear why this note now belongs on my blog. I mentioned in a previous blog (A Glimpse at Grief- Ten Years in the Making) that if you look through my website her spirit is in 90% of it. She's been a part of so much that I do to remember Zachary.
As April likes to end her notes…
We are known by the tracks we leave
I think April will be known for a long, long, long time.
Love you April!