April 17th has a few significant meanings for me.
I never knew or understood the term, “complex grief” until 2018. From then on it has been one shot after another.
You see, today would have been my dad’s 74th birthday.
Last year (April 17, 2019) was the first year without my dad. My mom wanted to ensure she spent this day with me in the UK, so she flew over from America to be here.
I booked us a lovely spa day at Carden Park on the outskirts of Chester. The sun was shining (a rare occurrence in the UK). We had a massage. We sat outside drinking coffee. We talked, we laughed, we cried. We shared memories of dad.
After our spa day we went to test-drive a ‘new’ car for me. I bought it and now I will never want to sell it. My mom was with me on my dad’s birthday and I bought a car. Little did I know 5 months later she would be gone.
Finally, we went to the grocery store. I will never forget the conversation in the car.
My mom asked, “How are you really doing?” My response, “I would be ok if people would stop dying.” At this point there had been 6 deaths of those I loved.
One hour later, Zach! Zachary Anderton, 20 years old, was killed in a car accident on my dad’s birthday. What the actual hell….
I did not know this had happened until I woke up to the news early the next morning. I read, re-read, read again. When my mind caught up with the words, I screamed. It woke my husband. He was getting used to hearing this cry (and it was not over yet). I could not speak. I showed him. We were in disbelief. We were devastated and heartbroken and in shock. None of this would compare to his parents and I knew it.
Our friends lost their only child. Their son. The love of their life. Their entire world was shattered in one second. One accident.
What do you do? What do you say? I sent a message. I assumed they needed to be alone. I assumed they needed space. I assumed wrong!! I wanted to get in my car and drive to them but I did not want to intrude. What do you do? Where is the book on this one? Where is the instruction manual for this shit?
What they needed (besides having their son back), was loved ones gathering around them, holding them. Crying and sobbing with them.
My assumption was an epic failure.
Once I found out what they needed. I went over there and apologised profusely. In the only way that Martin and Krista could ever behave is with grace and forgiveness. It is who they are!
It was a lesson I would not wish anyone to have to learn. I mean, this was not about me. However, I felt horrible.
I feel like I cannot adequately describe Zachary without praising his parents.
Several years ago, I met Krista at Supercuts in Chester, of all places. We were getting our haircut. She heard my accent. Another American in Chester. We talked, laughed, friended each other on Facebook (obviously). That was it! We were connected. It was a divine encounter. I do not say this lightly. It was a DIVINE encounter.
Our families connected. We spent holidays together. My husband Clint even coached Zach in American Football (not to mistake this for British Football/ soccer).
I have never met a family more inclusive, loving, caring, giving, funny, genuine, and well….the list would go on and on. All positive of course.
They had our heart.
This does not even begin to describe Martin and Krista but I hope it gives you some idea.
Now, Zachary Anderton……….
Every time I saw Zach, he had a smile on his face. He was usually in the kitchen helping his mom (she had the best burrito business in the world and this is no exaggeration), or he was outside with his dad working on some car or trailer. I never knew what they were doing, but they were doing it together.
He was usually wearing some ridiculous NFL jersey like the Dallas Cowboys. COME ON ZACH! I used to give that boy a hard time for his lack of taste in football teams. “You need to start supporting a real team like the Seattle Seahawks.” He would just point to his jersey and laugh.
Zach excelled at everything he did whether it be racing cars, sports, whatever it was this kid succeeded.
However, the thing that makes Zach (and yes I said MAKES because Zach is very much alive), is his ability to make everyone feel special. He included everyone. His motto, “No drama!”
Zach had friends from all walks of life. Every social group. He is like our Jack (Jack Watson, my son in law who passed away 30th November 2019 in a tragic accident). Zach was the glue and still is.
I know that Zach is alive. He shows himself in ways that I cannot even explain. I have seen it with my own eyes. This kid knows how much his parents need him. How much his grandparents need him. How much his other family members and friends need him. So what does he do? He pulls pranks. He gives signs. He makes sure that everyone is taken care of. Story after story after story.
If you are his loved one, you know exactly what I am talking about.
I know that Zach is in the spirit world doing what he does best. His soul purpose. He is including everyone. He is bringing people to him. Like he did on earth. I know he and Jack are together. I imagine the crowd around them.
No one will ever be the same Zach. In 20 short years, you left a legacy. Most people go their entire life and never achieve what you have. I will never come close, but I will try.
You are an example that we all should live by. If we did, imagine this world. Imagine what kind of world we would be living in if people were inclusive. If people loved others and made every person they meet feel special. Imagine.
This IS Zachary Anderton. This IS Martin and Krista.
I love you all more than you will ever know.
Our souls are connected forever and for that, I am grateful.