Moving on up…to the downsize…and words of Billy Bob

So it’s weird. We are moving. We are 42yrs old and already downsizing our house since Zachary is no longer here. Our current house is too big and seems empty without his noise and constant YouTube on as loud as it could go, his pacing and eating things everywhere he went. I still find fruit snack wrappers shoved in places fifteen months later. His fav, Market Pantry from Target. I swear those little red packages pop out of nowhere as little hellos. Anyway.

When we were looking, we actually had to think, do we really want to take care of this when we are old? Do we really want this much land? Do we really want to have to deal with a pool? We went from thinking we wanted one thing to a complete turn around to something else. Sarah is already fourteen years old. We sadly know how fast time flies and that things can happen in the blink of an eye. We would love her to stay young forever but, we know that won’t happen.

Packing for the move, now that is a different story. We are supposed to close on March 8, 2018 if everything goes as planned which, we all know can change when it comes to buying a house. My current problem with packing is that I find myself looking through everything for touches of Zachary.

I found a photo album from a vacation and it had this beauty in it. It brought on tears of happiness mixed with sadness and longing. It was Billy Bob Thornton who stated, “There’s a melancholy in me that never goes away. I’m 50 percent happy and 50 percent sad at any given moment.” This is so so true. I cry because I was blessed to have him and to have the precious happy memories of him and I cry because I miss him all at once. It’s the learning to live that way that is the challenge.

Learning to walk on a balance beam was easy as a kid. You put your arms out, place one foot in front of the other and walk. This balance beam of grief is a whole different monster. The beam is not straight, it twists and curves, goes up and down, right side up and upside down.

I know I need to just place everything in a box because I know it will be at the new house but, it’s so hard not to look.

Most parents can see these pics and joke and laugh about the fun memories. I look at these pics and I smile and then the tears start. I thought I had been doing better but, this is kicking my ass. I will just get things out of drawers to shove into a box and a little card with his writing will slip out and I’ll touch it and the tears start. I am in a constant limbo of emotions and I am just trying to let myself feel them instead of trying to act tough and shove them down.

So, tomorrow, I am taking my cousins advice. I am not looking intentionally and just get it into boxes carefully labeled. The crying can happen at the new house. It will already be hard enough leaving the last house Zachary touched to a new one he has never lived in. A new one that although he won’t be there physically, I will be able to imagine him walking the circle through the living room and the kitchen. I will be able to imagine him sitting by the waters edge and smiling at the ducks and geese. He would have loved it and we will too.

#suddencardiacarrest #cardiacarrhythmia #suddendeath #grief #grieving #mourn #mourning #childloss #lossofchild #mamabear #compassionatefriends #imwithyoumommy #lgbt #RSU #RogersStateUniversity #ForeverAHillcat #OKEQ #wemissyouZach #ijustcant #oprah #billybobthornton

Memorial Endowment Link Below:

Singing but, I went completely somewhere else.

Zachary was a singer. The boy loved to sing. He sang from the time he was a toddler till he moved to Heaven and I can only imagine he is singing there as well.

As pics have come up on my phone from years past, I have struggled. We have a lot of life changes going on. Some days seeing the pics breaks my heart but, other days, they give me reason to smile. Today is a cry day. I made the mistake of sitting down in the closet to sort laundry and looked at my phone. The closet is an awful place to sit down and look at your phone as a grief Mom. There is something about that small space and feeling safe that allows the tears to come.

Last year I had an EPIC breakdown in Zachary’s closet because of his shoes. Today, it’s a small breakdown. It’s a small breakdown over life. It’s a small breakdown over feeling overwhelmed. It’s a small breakdown over time moving forward when I just want to go back to the morning of November 10th, 2016 and ask Zach how he was feeling physically and take him to a doctor even if he felt fine instead of just if he wanted to come home. It’s a breakdown of still having my days questioning if we paid attention enough to know anything was wrong with his heart.

You see, over a year has passed and I still have my moments where I faulter. We are one of the lucky parents who know we did everything possible to prevent something from happening to Zachary. He went two years before and had a full cardiac workup and nothing was found. His cardiac tumor was so rare that less than 300 people have died from it since 1964 and only three teenagers that I can find. No one would have known to look for it.

But, I still have those moments. I still have those moments where I doubt myself. I still have those moments where someone questions if it was his medicine that caused it rather than just accepting that fluke things happen in the body. My nephew explained it to me like this,

“Hey! Just read the article that you sent over. So the cause of LHAS isn’t agreed upon by the medical community. There are multiple theories that seem promising, but nothing definitive has been identified.

One theory says that there is a gene defect that can contribute similarly to a cancer. It’s not necessarily genetic/hereditary. Most likely it’s a random gene mutation that happened. This happens all of the time, but the body fixes like 98% of mutations. If LHAS were to happen from a genetic mutation it would be the unfortunate 2% that the body misses.

The other theory just says that whenever you have cells rapidly multiplying and dividing and differentiating into tissues during pregnancy and early life, some cells in the heart just happen to stick together more than they typically do.”

When I have these doubts, I have to remind myself that even if we knew why it happened, it wouldn’t change the fact that he is not here. It wouldn’t change the fact that we had 18 years with the sweetest, kindest boy ever placed on this Earth. I will forever be grateful that I was chosen to be Zachary’s “Mommy”. Nothing will change that. I am grateful. I grateful that I got to love someone so much that my heart breaks on a daily basis.

I love and miss you Boy. ~ Mommy

Zachary’s friend visiting his Memorial Bench.

Circle the State with Song 2009

#suddencardiacarrest #cardiacarrhythmia #suddendeath #grief #grieving #mourn #mourning #childloss #lossofchild #mamabear #compassionatefriends #imwithyoumommy #lgbt #RSU #RogersStateUniversity #ForeverAHillcat #OKEQ #wemissyouZach #ijustcant

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It only takes a text to take you back.

Tonight, I received a text from a friend telling me one of my dear friends lost her niece in an accident. It only takes one text to take you back. One text to make your heart break all over. It doesn’t break for yourself, it breaks knowing there is another Mother and family that you know who has joined the “Loss Club” and it’s the worst place you want to be. It breaks knowing one of your daughter’s best friends has lost a cousin in an extremely close family. It breaks for my friend knowing she has lost a niece as I’ve watched how it has affected my family. It breaks for her Grandparents knowing what it has done to my husbands Dad and Donnie and my parents.

If you haven’t been here, you can’t explain it. There are no words to make it better. Nothing you can say. At this stage, prayers mean crap to you as what good are they when you just lost your child. You said plenty of prayers when you get that call and it doesn’t change anything on the drive to the hospital. It doesn’t bring them back. You don’t eat. My sister had to force liquids down me as my lips were so chapped that they were almost bleeding.

I will prob never share the actual events of the hospital because it’s too painful and too personal. All grief is painful. There is just a second process when it is a sudden death. There’s the extra shock factor that takes a long time to get over. We are a little over a year in and I still have days that it doesn’t seem possible. Some days my brain still pretends he’s at college and is just a short drive away and then, I remember. I still have moments my brain thinks to text something funny to him and, I then remember. Moments a friend will see someone who looks just like him and, she has to take a second look. Moments you see a car like his and it takes your breath away.

As I go to bed, the tears will come again tonight. Partly for them, partly for me as it brings back that phone call and drive to the hospital. No parent should have to lose a child. I won’t say bury because we don’t all bury. No grandparent should lose a grandchild, no aunt and uncle should lose a niece or nephew, no brother or sister should lose a sibling. It guts you to the core and turns your life into before and after. It turns it into “since”. It fucking sucks.

I don’t want prayers or sad emojis coming my way. I just want people to hug their kiddos extra tonight and smell the top of their heads. Tell them you love them one more time than normal.

#suddencardiacarrest #cardiacarrhythmia #suddendeath #grief #grieving #mourn #mourning #childloss #lossofchild #mamabear #compassionatefriends #imwithyoumommy #lgbt #RSU #RogersStateUniversity #ForeverAHillcat #OKEQ #wemissyouZach #ijustcant

Memorial Endowment Link Below:

Disneyworld 2010

Backpack, Backpack

So yesterday and today have been good days. There have been tears shared but they aren’t necessarily sad tears, more just life moves on without the boy here. Things change. Places change. We change.

Sarah came down last night and asked if she could start using Zachary’s college backpack. We, of course, said yes as anything that was his is hers. This is a big step for her as she will now be carrying something of his everyday.

I remember when he called me from the RSU Bookstore to ask me if he could buy one. His messenger bag wasn’t working as well as a backpack would. He sent me pics asking if he could get it and wanted to make sure it wasn’t too expensive.

I have my texts on save forever so I can go back and reread our conversations.

Back to Sarah, so she is slowly starting to want to have something to do with her brother’s things. It started with some of his T-shirt’s, now it’s his backpack. I’m hoping one day she will want to wear his fingerprint necklace we bought her. It will happen when the time is right for her. We can’t force it. When she is ready, she will want it. We will allow her that time and that grace to handle things on her time as we all move at our own pace.

Miss you Zachary.

#suddencardiacarrest #cardiacarrhythmia #suddendeath #grief #grieving #mourn #mourning #childloss #lossofchild #mamabear #compassionatefriends #imwithyoumommy #lgbt #RSU #RogersStateUniversity #ForeverAHillcat #OKEQ #wemissyouZach #jansport

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Silly pic sent by one of Zachary’s friends to me this week.

Emotional Insulation

As I lie (or lay, who cares) here in bed this morning, I just got hit with the realization that we are going into 2018 without the boy. They say the second year is worse than the first and I tried my hardest not to believe that was true. I told myself that there was “no way possible” but it is. The second year is harder. Your brain is in less of a fog and the shock has worn off and you are stuck with the realization that it is real. He really is never coming home.

Maybe that is why I have allowed myself to pack 12 lbs on in two months. I’ve been just feeding my grief left and right. Chocolate, salty snacks, sugar cookies (damn #Lofthouse). I won’t say it just happened and I had no clue. I knew exactly what I was doing. I am emotional eater and it’s a way to feel insulated. I insulate myself with large oversized sweaters, thick boots, blankets all the time at home. I insulate so I feel that I am keeping others at a distance. If I keep them at a distance, the tears won’t come and I won’t feel.

This year, I am making it my intention to remember to take care of myself emotionally and physically. I have shut down physically and that directly affects my emotional state. I need to be here for my family, my husband, my daughter. We have formed a neat bond which I am so thankful but, without Mom, it takes more effort.

So I’m putting it out there to hold myself accountable. The past two months have been months of putting the layers on. It’s time to peel them off. It’s time to make the mental decision “just do it” . #nike Tomorrow this Mom gets a reboot. I won’t say a do-over as I’ve needed this time for my heart to feel and not be in the fog. I’ve needed this time to miss “The Boy.” I do know though, Zachary would not want me to be physically miserable. He would not want me to live sad. It’s time to get out there and exist since he cannot.

#suddencardiacarrest #cardiacarrhythmia #suddendeath #grief #grieving #mourn #mourning #childloss #lossofchild #mamabear #compassionatefriends #imwithyoumommy #lgbt #RSU #RogersStateUniversity #ForeverAHillcat #OKEQ #wemissyouZach #harrystyles #justdoit #Brookesrunning

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C’mon feel the noise

Noise. It’s something that might drive you crazy until you have a child pass on. Sometimes the noise would be so loud that I couldn’t stand it. What I would give now to have YouTube playing on Zachary’s cell phone in the kitchen. It used to drive me insane. Now, I just miss it.

Sarah has taken over the YouTube noise however; it gets played on the television. Somehow a 14yr old Okie girl talks like a New Yorker from watching #jennamarbles so much. I’ll give it to her though, she is hysterical.

Sarah’s friend Aidan spent the last two nights with us. Aidan is musically inclined. It has been so great to hear the ukulele being played and singing coming from upstairs. It’s been delightful to hear the sound of Sarah singing and dancing to her new vinyls she received for Christmas.

Noise. You miss it as a loss parent. It seems like such a small thing but the constant background noise from having two kids in the house is one of the best sounds. We love it when she has friends over or the neighbor boys just for their sound.

Parents, I have a word of advice in the words of #QuietRiot, “C’mon feel the noise.” Enjoy it, embrace it, be a part of it. One day, it will be gone. Ours just disappeared quicker than expected.

Zachary and marshmallows only because, “nobody likes me brown bits.”

#suddencardiacarrest #cardiacarrhythmia #suddendeath #grief #grieving #mourn #mourning #childloss #lossofchild #mamabear #compassionatefriends #imwithyoumommy #lgbt #RSU #RogersStateUniversity #ForeverAHillcat #OKEQ #wemissyouZach #harrystyles #onedirection #niallhoran

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Christmas 2018

We managed to cram all of Christmas into one weekend with all of our family. We went down Friday night to spend the night at my parents. I took Zachary’s T-shirt blanket with us so I felt a part of him was with us. Friday night went fine. I cried a little hugging my Mom which is kind of why I wanted to spend the night the night before.

Saturday. I woke up early as I like to have coffee with my parents just me and them. It’s a special time when no one else is awake, no other siblings are there, and it’s just us. After getting ready, we went to eat at my Father-In-Law and Donnie’s house. Lunch went great. I got a little teary eyed on our way there but thanks to my awesome husband, I was able to pull it back in and enjoy our visit with them.

We went back to my parents house and by the time I was finishing up our “Frosty the Cheesy Snowman” family started to arrive. It was an awesome night with lots of food, fun, laughter, etc there were just a few things missing. Zachary, Tyler (who stopped by earlier) Griffin and Val. It was just the four youngest this year as Zachary has moved to Heaven and the others are busy. There was a hole in the night where the others should have been. That is one thing I am learning, everyone’s life moves on no matter how bad you don’t want it too, including your own.


The girls all had fun with their gift exchange and playing Tenzies and Quelfing. “Women be Quelfing on Christmas Eve” was sang more than once at the table. Giggles were had and it made the trip down so worth it.

Then, I fell apart in the car on the way home. It never fails that something is said or something happens that sets me back a little. I won’t go into details but, ending the second Christmas without Zachary would have been enough to cause tears.

We got home Christmas Eve and had Taco Bueno. I usually cook dinner but we are totally going by the seat of our pants anymore. Jonathan and Sarah ended up watching WW2 movies while I wrapped gifts. We opened Aunt JeanAnne and Uncle Jack gifts and Sarah got to open one gift before Christmas. This has always been a tradition.


Christmas morning came and went in a flash. Sarah had an amazing morning. She received lots of concert T-shirt’s and vinyl records with a player. She also received tickets to see her favorite boy singer in Dallas, TX in June. We knew if Zachary were still alive he would have petitioned for her to be allowed to go see #HarryStyles . That was his style. Anything for his little sister.

Cedrick and Melissa came over and hung out. It’s always good to have them over and catch up. We haven’t gotten to see Ced lately as he has been busy with college and working. That’s what Zachary would be doing if he were still around. We finished the evening with dinner and more movies and then I came down after the night was over again.

The main take away is that we did it. I know we don’t have a choice but we did it. We made it through another year. Although tears were shed, it is okay to shed those tears. One we love dearly is missing and I will cry every year the rest of my life on holidays, birthdays, and days in between. I’m allowing myself to feel them more than ever before and it’s helping.

Over the past three months, we have really developed a neat family unit with the three of us and are learning to really depend on each other. Sarah has started opening up and we are all still leaning in.

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and enjoyed your time with family.

Love to you all,


#suddencardiacarrest #cardiacarrhythmia #suddendeath #grief #grieving #mourn #mourning #childloss #lossofchild #mamabear #compassionatefriends #imwithyoumommy #lgbt #RSU #RogersStateUniversity #ForeverAHillcat #OKEQ #Christmas #wemissyouZach

Vintage stuff received:

#nirvana #davegrohl #greenday #niallhoran #ACDC #johnnycash #journey

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Shop a little. Cry a little. Repeat.

This weekend was a great weekend. Even though I had a complete and utter breakdown Saturday night starting in a GameStop, and ending at home even after stopping at McDonalds to pick up dinner, it was great. I’ve learned to accept that breakdowns are going to happen. Sometimes I can rein them back in and sometimes you can’t. It’s fine and life moves on.

Friday night Sarah babysat for the neighbors so Jonathan and I actually went Christmas shopping. That was the first time we had done so in years. We usually take advantage of Amazon to avoid the crowds but, we are trying different things this year. Halfway through our trip, I got a little teary eyed. I know exactly what I think set it off. I saw a stuffed Spider-Man pillow in the home section and they started. Jonathan is always great about helping me get back and I was able to that night. It’s the next day that was sooooooo awful.

Saturday we went to Vintage Stock and GameStop, two of Zachary’s favorite stores. I did okay in Vintage Stock. My body tried to tear up but I controlled it. We finished there and went to GameStop. This is where all rational thinking went to heck in a hand basket however; it was a very normal reaction to the setting we were in. It’s a big step to accept that these will happen and there is nothing wrong or to be embarrassed about. If our cultural was more empathetic, maybe someone would learn to ask if they are okay. In one year, it’s happened three times! That’s it.

While we started to shop, my body realized we had not been back to that GameStop since the weekend before Zachary passed away. We had a great weekend and he and Jonathan bought some games. We hadn’t been back in there since that weekend. My brain realized this and all straight thinking went out the window. The tears started, I went and stared in a corner to let them out. I got myself together and helped JJ finish shopping with a few tears coming here and there. As soon as we hit the car, all bets were off. On came the sobbing, shutting down, hands over your ears and face, ugly crying, bent over at the waist. Any grieving Mother knows exactly what I’m talking about. This lasted the entire car ride to McDonalds, in the drive through lane and on the way home.

Sarah was home getting ready to go to a friend’s house to spend the night so I had to bring it in so I could drive here there and not have her worry about her Mommy all night while at her friends. After dropping her off, I came home and proceeded to fall asleep in my chair as grieving is hard work and freaking exhausting.

Sunday we were going to see a movie but, decided to go down and see Sarah’s Uncle GumGum instead. He was in town from South Carolina. One thing we have learned, is family is most important and it was so great to visit. It got us more in the holiday spirit to see the rest of my family that lives in town Saturday. I made it through the day without crying.

Grief is hard. You shop a little then, you cry a little. It is especially hard during the holidays. So, if you see a woman or man in the middle of a grocery store, mall, anywhere crying, just ask if they need anything. If they say no, ask again. It usually takes twice to get an honest opinion. Also, if you see a woman crying, don’t assume her husband made her cry. That is always Jonathan’s fear is that someone is going to think he made me cry when in all reality, it’s just my body and sometimes it can’t be controlled.

Love to you whoever reads this!

#suddencardiacarrest #cardiacarrhythmia #suddendeath #grief #grieving #mourn #mourning #childloss #lossofchild #mamabear #compassionatefriends #imwithyoumommy #lgbt #RSU #RogersStateUniversity #ForeverAHillcat #OKEQ #RSU

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Zachary loved #tron from when he was little. One of my fav memories is seeing the new Tron movie in the George Lucas Theater at Disney World. Sarah fell asleep. Zach was on the edge of his seat.

It all started with a shirt.

So, today I took a big step in my grief journey. When Zachary passed away, I made Jonathan bring his hamper home from his dorm room and it has been sitting in his closet with his dirty clothes still in it. Just sitting there. It has been sitting there for over a year now. I go in occasionally and smell them. I know, gross right? If you’ve lost a child, you know how fantastic the smell of your lost child is. You know what you would give to have that dirty, sunshine smell hair and skin come walking in the door from skateboarding and just inhale it and never let it go.

Today, I let some of it go. It all started with a shirt. This shirt in particular.


Sarah’s style has evolved and she asked if she could have her brother’s Fun concert T-shirt’s. This is a really big deal for me. Fun. was the first and only concert Zachary had ever been to. We went in the summer with my sister and her family and my brother-in-laws side of the family who I have known since I was I think 18. It was such a fun night and Zachary was so excited we were able to get T-shirt’s. He almost wore his out so he asked if he could have mine and wore it so much it is the perfect softness. He wore that shirt at least once a week from his Freshman year until he graduated high school. It didn’t make the trip to college with him but mine did. It was in that dirty hamper.

I went through that dirty clothes hamper today. I got every shirt I thought Sarah may have a chance of wanting and washed the boy out of the shirts. This is a huge huge huge step. I did have to save one shirt and put it in a ziplock bag. You see, when I picked this shirt up in the hamper, it literally smelled like Zachary was giving me a hug. I couldn’t let this one go.


This was another one of his favorite shirts that was worn on repeat for several years and it made the trip to college. It had gotten a little too small and almost too short but he still wore it and loved it. Maybe one day I will be able to wash this one but I doubt it. It went into the ziplock with Zachary’s Rogers State University T-shirt. There are some things a Mommy just can’t let go of. I did manage to get quite a stack for Sarah that she got to pick through. The rest of the now clean T-shirt’s will go in his dresser drawers till I decide what I am ready to do with them.

I know it seems like such a silly thing. That clothing would hold so much value that you wouldn’t wash it. I know it probably makes me gross because I go in and smell it but, I miss it. I miss what I always called “sunshine” on our kids because I never wanted to tell them they stank. But today, I did it. I let go a little. It’s baby steps. There were tears and I let them come and accepted them for what they were. They weren’t sad tears. They were tears from remembering a beautiful boy and the wonderful short life he lived. He is missed so much.

#suddencardiacarrest #cardiacarrhythmia #suddendeath #grief #grieving #mourn #mourning #childloss #lossofchild #mamabear #compassionatefriends #imwithyoumommy #lgbt #RSU #RogersStateUniversity #ForeverAHillcat #OKEQ #fun #treeandleaf #RSU

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Car Rides

This one actually isn’t a sad post. This is a post about car rides. Not super long car rides but car rides from Tulsa to OKC and back. Both of our kids tend to keep quiet about themselves but, you get them in the car and they come to life.

Our orthodontist, Dr. Geoff Sparks of Orthodontic Associates, has treated both kids and myself in braces. He started Zach when he was in first grade and Sarah this year. Since we have lived in Tulsa the last three years, we have had lots of drives down the turnpike.

Some of my fav memories of Zachary are simply talking in the car and singing together. I think it’s the fact that you are not face to face that makes it easier for them to talk. Zach would take his earbuds out after just a bit and let loose.

I heard that kid rap entire songs, including Eminem’s “Rap God”, Nicki Minaj’s “Starship”, Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy”, etc. The kid had a knack for memorizing songs. We would also sing together and have the best conversations. If any of you ever had the chance to hear him sing, it was as if the Heavens has opened up and angels were singing. I miss my car time with him.

The last two trips with Sarah to the orthodontist however; she has really taken to opening up finally. We sing Harry Styles, we talk about boys, school, life lessons, etc. This doesn’t happen if we are face to face. She is really starting to become her own person. I think I truly enjoy the teenage years the most.

That is not to say that they are the easiest years. They are years full of anxiety, worry, emotions, hormones, etc. but, if you just slow down, have some one on one (not face to face) time, you really get to hear and find out who your teenagers are. They are amazing kids with their own diverse opinions on the world, politics, people, etc.

I am so thankful for my husband that he is able to provide for our family so I was able to stay home for all of Zachary’s teenage years and Sarah’s coming up. I am so thankful for all those rode trips with the boy, and now the girl. I am so thankful that we had all that silly time in the car to just be playful Mom and teenager. To rock out, dance, sing, talk with your teenager is one of the best things you can do.

I guess the point of this post is just to give advice to other parents. Don’t waste your time in the car with your kids. Take advantage of that one on one time and take it all in. Let them talk. Let them be silly. Stay off the phone calls and just relax with your kids. Enjoy that time because you never know when it could be the last.

#suddencardiacarrest #cardiacarrhythmia #suddendeath #grief #grieving #mourn #mourning #childloss #lossofchild #mamabear #compassionatefriends #imwithyoumommy #lgbt #RSU #RogersStateUniversity #ForeverAHillcat #OKEQ #Eminem #NickiMinaj #IggyAzalea #HarryStyles