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. 


  1. It is heartbreaking to know that C.T., still so young, has such an intimate experience of the way grief shapes our perception of time passing. Re-hashing what happened on this day or that one, and how many months since this or that event... It seems to be a common thread in the writing (and lives) of many loss parents but i didn't realize it would also be so present for children who have lost siblings.

    I am sorry C.T. too suffers so much from the absence of Zachary. I am so sorry.

  2. Reading this created a physical ache in my chest. I can't even imagine what it is like for you and your husband to hear your son speak those words, to hear him run through the same questions that you have been carrying in your load since the moment you knew your little boy would die. I am sorry, Gretchen.

  3. I stumbled across your blog via a bit of a convoluted path, but am glad that I did. First and foremost, I am very sorry for your (and your family's) losses. Burying a child is something no parent should ever have to endure. Being a bereaved father, I can relate to much of what you have to say, but reading the words of bereaved mothers helps me understand my wife's pain better. If for no other reason, blogging about our collective grief seems to be therapeutic for those who write, and those who read. Knowing that we are all on this very lonely island together is oddly comforting because even though none of us want to be here, all of us are here to support each other by sharing our pain and relating to people we only know through our words. In that, I thank you for your word and wish you and your family a bit more peace with each passing day.

    Warmest regards,

    1. Steven - Thank you for reading and for your comforting words. I am so sorry for the loss of your son, Colin, and for the fact that you walk this heartbreaking path too. I visited your blog last week as I was packing for a trip, and was unfortunately short on time...I'm headed back now...

  4. Dear Gretchen

    It is heartbreaking

    I am thinking of you, Zachary and you family from Europe