*Please understand this is a letter to my brother, whom I had just lost. I am in no way at all condoning what he did and forever my heart will ache for what happened. It isn’t right or fair what happened. Please do not assume I am speaking of a specific person because the assumptions have been wrong. He was more than the last mistake he made. He was human and broken – that is not an excuse at all. This letter was written with a very broken heart, filled with sorrow of a horrible choice a mistake that took so much away from so many. I am not in denial of what happened, I am speaking of the person I grew up with for 24 years…he was not born the person he was his last moments here on Earth. I am mourning the loss of a person and his mistake. I understand what happened and I would give anything to have been able to stop what happened. As far as what I knew…I only knew that my brother faced a very hard life, one that for many, many years he tried to overcome and tried to get better. We all tried to help him. If I could have known or would have even thought for a second this could have been something that would have happened I would have moved mountains to stop it. I only knew that Zack was loved, that he loved, that he was not only his last day here on Earth…that was the story I spoke of…I wish I had known more…every day I ache for those lost and all those left to mourn this tragedy. Every day I ask why. Every day I wish I could have done something. All of us would have stopped this if we could have, all of us are mourning and I just wanted to clarify because this post was misunderstood by some…we are all dealing with something none of us should have to deal with or ever fathomed dealing with. This was written before I could even try to begin to search for answers…I was just lost in grief not even a week after, it was just the pain for what became of my brothers life. There was good before this and that is what I am mourning and I will forever mourn the events surrounding the end. Please understand this isn’t an attempt to clear his name, to sit in denial, to condone his actions — this is just me his sister so sad that she couldn’t change what horrible mistake destroyed so much and mourning the little brother she grew up with and the life I wish he could of had.
This is private…but I am sharing it because my brother deserves love and he deserves to be mourned. Headlines and news stories never tell the entire story and never seem to remember it is people, a son, a brother and a friend they are reporting about.
This isn’t how it is supposed to be, this isn’t how this is supposed to go.
I am your big sister…I am the one that was supposed to go first. But you never did follow the rules did you?
I don’t know how to say goodbye to you…I know you didn’t either and that is why you didn’t. So I hope you understand if I don’t say goodbye…at least not yet…I am just living in the temporary..the break until I see you again..
Beyond how sad I am, how deeply this hurts, how every cell in my body misses you, I am thankful…so thankful.
Thankful I got 24 years with you.
You were and are a good person.
You cared so deeply, loved so deeply and lived so fully.
You my brother were the epitome of carpe diem.
You were my first friend….my first best friend.
I remember pretending to be asleep when mom would tuck us in and after she would leave you would sneak into my bed and we would “read” books, even though I didn’t know how to read yet and we would talk about all things important to us….like how we saved those rolly pollies from being crushed on the sidewalk or who we wanted to be when we grew up..
I remember how you drove me crazy listening to “mmmbop” from Hanson on repeat and I drove you crazy by listening to the Spice Girls on repeat. I remember how your Ninja Turtles had tea with my barbies in their dream house and then they would all go help your Ghostbusters capture ghosts. I remember when you went crazy on the log flume ride at Kings Island because you realized at the top of the hill you actually didn’t want to be on the ride and you gave us all a heart attack trying to crawl off the ride.
With those memories I also remember you being so brave because the memories were not all good…you were hurt by the very person you as a little boy looked up to more than anything..your own dad. That title “dad” is one he should not carry. And thankfully Brian stepped up to fill that role and you were then blessed to have a dad that lived up to that name and honored that role in your life.
Those bad memories are the ones that keep me awake at night…you were so little…so amazing…so innocent…it was him and not you…I wish you could have seen that…I know you ached and pleaded your entire life for his approval….which he did not deserve. The things he called you, the way he treated you he should have been looking into a mirror…it wasn’t you…it was never you.
You were an amazing child. You were full of life. You had a spark. You always made people laugh…you always were there for me…you were my tag along. I wish I could have protected you more.
No child should ever have to go through what you did. You were so strong to come through that the way you did.
You were such a talent. There was nothing you set your mind to that you didn’t master.
I remember when you took up guitar, it wasn’t soon before long that your guitar teacher would tell you he could teach you nothing more because you were so talented.
When you started to tattoo I was terrified…I can’t scribble so the thought that my artwork would be on someone my my hand was a nightmare to me…but then I saw your work…I was taken back. Your work was beautiful…with each person you tattooed you formed a relationship with…even if it was just for that session.
You helped them choose something meaningful to them…
So much of me is sad all of your tattoos will be gone..you were a work of art…but Hailey posted a link about drawings in the sand…and that is what I believe they were…just because they didn’t last forever doesn’t take away any of their beauty.
Your body was a masterpiece…I remember you getting a tattoo for me…a teal ribbon with hope, faith and love scrolled across for my battle with cancer.
It meant so much to me…but what meant more to me was how you were there for me in that scary time.
I remember after my surgery and not being able to shower having the stitches across my throat…I could barely move my head. You helped my wash my hair, you said you wanted me to feel as normal as I could. You held a bucket while I laid on the couch and carefully washed my hair, asking me if I was ok every two seconds.
You took such good care of me.
I remember you driving a million miles an hour to the hospital when I had the twins. You were shaking and rushed to hug me. You ran into the OR because you knew I was somewhere and you had to find me. I was so happy to see you…I was so scared and even though I was falling apart you still made me laugh and feel better and assured me that they would be ok.
You were such a wonderful uncle…I think that is the part that hurts worst for me….my babies will never get to know their crazy uncle Zack…
I can’t even allow that to sink in…
While I vow to keep you alive I know it just wont be the same…I can’t get Noah to talk but at 18 months you had him snapping and beat boxing…you had a way with him.
Mom gave me your baby blanket…I didn’t even know you kept it…it smells like you.
It is tattered and worn, but God it smells like you.
When they handed it to me I buried my face deep into it…I remembered hugging you the last time you were here…it was after your heart was broken the first time…you told me how much you wanted the life Kevin and I had…but I told you how proud I was of you…how you had made yourself into someone…something. That I was just a mom, with a messy house, Kevin and I never could figure out what to make for dinner and the kids were always crying and the dogs drove us crazy. That you went out and became who you wanted to be, that you didn’t quit when it got hard, that you rose up out of the ashes like a pheonix, you had all the odds against you but you over came them. I told you how much I loved you and how proud I was of you and hugged you…you were so much taller than me that my head was always buried in your chest…that is what your blanket smells like.
Zack you were a good person. You were such a gift in my life. No matter what anyone says I know the real story….I know…it doesn’t matter what anyone says…I know.
I am sorry for what you were put through – it was wrong – very wrong. You deserved so much better.
Your life and you are not tainted to me.
I know God knows your heart, God saw what they did to you, God saw how you were treated and how hard you tried.
I am trying to find some peace that you are at peace now…but I am selfish and want you back.
I would give anything.
I want you to know I will live for you.
I will carry you with me…you are in my heart. I will grow old for you…I will love for you…I will laugh for you. I will take care of Brian, Mom and Spencer…I will take care of Kevin, he really misses you….I will be crazy and wild for the boys like you would have. We will all take care of each other.
You will continue to live through me.
And I will live more like you…
I will seize the day.
I just wish I could have reached you a little deeper…I wish I could have hugged you one more time…I wish I could have taken our fathers words and burned them from your memory…I wish I could have protected you from the abuse of this year… I wish I could have said I love you more…I wish you were still here.
I know you know how much you were loved..
My baby brother…I was blessed to be your sister…
I am so, so sorry.