It’s been two years since my husband, Zack, said those words to me. I will never forget them; the last words he ever spoke to me. After that two minute phone conversation, he shut his cell phone down. He then committed suicide in a remote field, an hour from our home.
It wasn’t immediately known that he had taken his life after a brief, but acute, mental breakdown. In fact, it was a week of search parties, frantic phone calls and heavy media coverage before a farmer found his body. A crash and burn of the safe life we had known. Since then I have been trying to rebuild a new life for me and our three sons.
The past 24 months have been a blur of pain and hope. Friendships and relationships have been lost and gained. My faith in God has been shattered and rebuilt. I’ve experienced some of the most tragic…and most beautiful…moments of my life. I’ve been fortunate to receive some of the kindest gestures.
The boys have grown up so much in two years. They have seen and experienced pain and anxiety no child deserves. But kids are resilient by nature. No matter how sad life gets, their hope of better days to come remains steadfast. Their innocent hope gives me hope.
When Zack first died, I didn’t think I was capable of caring for the boys by myself. Homework, bath time, bedtime, hectic mornings before school and work, my career. How could I do it alone? How could I work and take care of the boys? Just the thought of it all overwhelmed and exhausted me. But I forced myself to slowly adjust. I didn’t have a choice, and I knew the boys needed me now more than ever.
I have made a million mistakes over the past 2 years. Small errors and huge missteps. But I get up every single day and keep trying. I get the boys to school and myself to work. I sign them up for soccer and basketball and baseball. I want them to have a normal, happy childhood, at least as much as possible. Over time, the tears have become less and the laughter more frequent. The anxiety is very slowly being replaced by peace. The thought of “I can’t do this” still races through my mind at times. But I somehow find the strength to convince myself that I can…and I will…raise my sons to be fine
Two years later we are doing better than just surviving. I love my career. The boys are doing well at school. We have lots of friends and people who care about us. We are healthy. I try focusing on all the good in our lives, There is so much of it. I have accepted the fact that the pain will always be woven into our lives. Every milestone the boys achieve is bittersweet. But I remember those last words he spoke to me. “I will always be here.” And I have to believe that’s true. I have to believe that somewhere, he is watching over his boys and witnessing all of their joy and accomplishments.
With time comes clarity, and while I will always have unanswered question, I now realize Zack was sick. So sick he could no longer be a part of this world. If someone in your life is struggling with
depression…take it seriously. It could be a life or death situation.
Zack was the kind of guy who knew no enemies. The kind of guy who showed up for everything five minutes early and never once forgot Sweetest Day. The guy everyone depended on. If the darkness could overtake him, it can happen to anyone. So tell your family and friends how much you love them.
Hello GGS readers,
If you’re unfamiliar with the story, you’re welcome to start with this post.
My heart and spirit have a special connection with Jeannie, and to Zach, even though I never met him. I don’t know how all or even some of these things work, but I know it’s real.
Thank you, Jeannie. Just…thank you.