Monday, April 20, 2015

Timing is everything

Today marks fifteen months since Zachary's last breath.  One and a quarter years already.   

C.T. told me, plainly, while brushing his teeth this morning, that July 20th will be eighteen months.  From the minute we told him Zachary was going to die, he has been obsessed with the days and dates of his brother's short life.  He will check in with me from time to time, confirming he still knows the timing of significant events...  They started giving Zachary those antibiotics on Wednesday, right?  You thought he was getting better on Friday the 17th, but then they told you he had the brain bleed the same day, right?  He is still angry that we weren't able to tell him about Zachary's prognosis, and the plan to remove his life support, until Sunday.  C.T. is still trying to piece it all together, to grasp how his very real brother was doing great but now sits in ashes on our bedroom dresser.     

I had a rare dinner out tonight with a few bereaved mothers from my support group and wasn't home for the evening routine.  C.T. yelled out for B, just after he had been tucked into bed.  He was crying as he uttered the question he has asked again and again, the one for which the answer is simply too late for meaningful remedy,

Daddy, would Zachary still be alive now if the doctors would have done something sooner?  When mom knew something was wrong?

B held him and they cried together because that is all we can do.  The price we have collectively paid for the decisions and omissions and delays, for the situation being just short of a close call for Zachary, is astronomical. 

Saturday, April 18, 2015


Sometimes the emotional cacophony of my grief is too alive, reverberates too intimately, to write with confidence.  Instead, I have devoured three poetry books in the last week. 

This one is haunting, for me, in its calm turned desperation.            

by (U.S. Poet Laureate) Kay Ryan

All but saints
and hermits
mean to paint
toward an exit

leaving a
peasant ocean
of azure or jonquil
ending neatly
at the doorsill.

But sometimes
something happens:
a minor dislocation
by which the doors
and windows
undergo a
small rotation
to the left a little
-but repeatedly.
It isn’t
obvious immediately.

Only toward evening
and from the
farthest corners
of the houses
of the painters

comes a chorus
of individual keening
as of kenneled dogs
someone is mistreating.

None of our planning, none of the doctor's lame assurances, none of their insistence that I was overreacting, none of their delayed interventions, could interfere with the tiny propulsions away from Zachary's beautiful future.  Those incremental shifts pushed his brain to the point of hemorrhage.  Cornered him, dead. 

Saturday, April 4, 2015


One of the neighbor boys, who is now in eighth grade, recently took his entrance exam for the college prep school he will attend in the fall.  The essay portion of the exam he took asked students to identify and discuss someone who has had a meaningful impact in your life.   

He could have chosen anyone.  A parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle.  God.  A coach or teacher.  An author, musician or sports figure.  Someone he looks up to, someone who inspires him. 

He chose to write about Zachary.  Yes, my Zachary.  When his parents asked him about the exam, he explained how he wrote that Zachary taught him about life's frailty and to never take his siblings for granted.  His mother told me a few weeks ago and I wanted to collapse with gratitude in her arms.  

I long to hear Zachary's name on the lips of others.  I want to know that he is loved and missed, that his life was and is significant to others, even while it was miserably and painfully short to his immediate family.  To know that this (then) seventh grader was deeply affected by Zachary, so much that he chose to write about him over other meaningful influences in his life (and over a year after Zachary's death), touched my grieving heart.