I was meant to be a mother. Of that I am sure. But, all that I had ever known, imagined or expected of motherhood changed the instant my Zack was born.
For three years of my life, I rode the roller coaster of immense joy and devastating pain beyond anything I could have imagined. Each day I lived for Zack. He, in turn, depended on me - his partner, his cheerleader, his nurse, his advocate, his biggest fan – his Mommy. Although his genetics caused so many ‘imperfections’, in my eyes he was truly perfect.
Zack lived each day with obstacles that made even basic functions like eating and walking difficult yet he lived his life without knowing he had limitations. He tackled every therapy as merely a stepping stone to accomplish what he was after. When one goal was reached, he found a new one. When I learned he may not walk, I got therapists to help him. When I was told that he needed hearing aids, I found someone to help him communicate. When he was hospitalized frequently for pneumonia, it was me who sang to him so that he would not be afraid. We were a team.
Our lives were intertwined by the deepest unconditional love I have ever known or will ever know. When I needed to be strong, he showed me his strength. When I needed to fight, he taught me to never give up. I admired Zack for his perseverance, determination and resilience. I saw these traits every day in my beautiful son. His infectious smile and “walnut cheek” will be remembered by everyone who met him. He amazed everyone around him with all that he accomplished in his short life, including the doctors, who were constantly in awe of his willingness to fight.
Even in his last days, we were so proud of how our son continued to inspire and impress those around him. I got my greatest joy watching Zack interact with my other two sons. He always showed excitement when his brothers walked in the door from school - he knew the fun was about to begin. While Zack had no words, the brightness in his eyes and the way he tried to do everything they were doing, spoke to his deep love for his brothers.
Zack always showed me that regardless of what the doctors recorded about his challenges, he lived his life enjoying each moment he could. He found joy watching Elmo, playing drums, jumping on his trampoline, watching sports with Daddy, riding his red car down the sidewalk, eating Froot Loops and walking around the house after his brothers.
For the last week of our son’s life, I continued to care for him as I had since his birth. Hospitalized for pneumonia, his last days consisted of laying in bed with me and having me be the advocate I had always been. When breathing became too hard, he would curl into me for comfort and listen to me sing a sweet song in his ear so he wasn’t scared. When it came time to say goodbye, the words flowed as I thanked my incredible son for all that he had given to me and to our family. I told him how I loved him for making me the mother that I had become. I asked for his strength to continue to guide me to find ways to help others.
Holding him in my arms and snuggling for the last time, our son was safe, loved and allowed to give up the fight.
I am not a supermommy. I am a mother who was inspired by her son and even now that he is gone, I am forever changed by his impact on my life.
Winner of the Voices of Motherhood Writing Contest