It was a casual affair, hopefully it was exactly how Zak would have wanted it. It was an open invitation to anyone that Zak chose to be in his life. We had about 50+ people show up on Sunday afternoon. It was beautiful and sunny.
The plan was to have food that Zak loved...
Guacamole: I would make it for him all the time and if we were at a restaurant where they had guac, he had to have it. I don’t know how many times I ate Cheesecake Factory guacamole with him, but never spicy which was perfectly fine for me. Karen made an awesome guacamole.
Goldfish: He loved goldfish. He would eat a bag in a sitting.
Doritos: No matter what he had for lunch, he would always eat Doritos, the basic flavour ones, never Cool Ranch. When he went through a phase of eating hot dogs, bologna sandwiches, or wraps, he always had to have Doritos. No Doritos and Diet Pepsi? We had to pick something else for lunch or head out to get him a bag.
Bumpy Cake: A Michigan original. A chocolate ice box cake, I equate it to a Sara Lee cake, with a difference... thick stripes of white icing and then completely covered in fudge. It is actually pretty damn good... unless you have diabetes. Thanks Kelsey and Kyle for bringing it up.
Chicken Nuggets and Fries: Yes, we brought in McDonald’s Nuggets and a whole lot of Fries (thanks Alen). If we couldn’t decide on lunch our fallback was always McDonalds. His order without fail was a 10 piece with Fries, Diet Coke, and a McDouble with no onions. And don’t forget the ketchup. Lots and lots of ketchup for his fries and nuggets. And the ketchup had to be cold.
We didn’t have the formalities of a standard memorial but we did have a slide show on all the TV’s showing photos that were contributed by his friends. It triggered stories and memories because every slide was Zak. Maybe from high school, maybe travelling, or maybe just taking a selfie. Regardless, the photos showed how full of life Zak was. Zak would have loved it because it was all him, all the time. Although he may not have liked some of the older photos.
Thank you for everyone that made an appearance and helped out. It meant so much.
Now onto some deeper thoughts, feel free to jump off here and head to the slide show that we put together for the Celebration of Zak.
So it is over. 17 months after his drug overdose, Zak is at peace. It is bittersweet. It is final.
I am doing fine, over the past 17 months I have experienced many levels of grief. The hardest was the weeks following the event, the shock that it happened, but more so the adjustment that I would never talk to him again, text him, see his smiling face. I have dealt with that 16 months ago when I came to the realization that he wasn’t going to make it out of the vegetative state. I dealt with that again when he was moved to Michigan without anyone knowing and I was banned from being by his side. But now there are no more surprises. And even though I feel emptiness from this loss, he is where he should have been when the doctors said he would have very little quality of life a week in. Zak was a proud man, we all know he would not have wanted to spend this time like this. We know he couldn’t live with a disability. We know he would have gone into a depression if he had any inkling of consciousness. So I’m happy that he is now at peace.
I’m in the minority, I may be the only one, but I feel there was a level of consciousness all this time. No, I don’t have facts, just a sense and a theory. No one wants to think this because it would mean he was in an awful place for the last 17 months. When I went to secretly visit in Michigan there were signs and movements that felt like he was trying to communicate. It is always passed off as reflex. I sort of don’t believe that, I think it is said by professionals to make it easier. By the end of the short visit I actually saw his facial expression change and I said to the friends in the room... I think he is smiling. As much as I didn’t want him to know what was going on, I selfishly wanted him to know why I wasn’t by his side regularly and that I hadn’t abandoned him and it was out of my control. So I hope he heard. Sadly, I also think he did feel the pain of the bed sores and other issues, represented by the looks of discomfort in his face and the grinding of his teeth. It wasn’t right. None of this is fact, simply me analyzing and over thinking. Doctors said he was damaged enough to not feel or know things but I think different. I think he was damaged enough that he lost a lot and they knew he wouldn’t recover but I looked into his eyes. I could feel something. It was sad. And I was sad for him being in a helpless state. It is the feeling that made me never want to say goodbye when I left his bedside. The feeling that made me want to run back in and give him one more kiss on his forehead. I honestly never wanted to leave him alone because he didn’t like to be alone and it made every good bye so hard. I never wanted him to go a day without a visitor. He may have been in an awful limbo this entire time. I hope I’m wrong, we will never know.
So life goes on, I mentioned in my previous post, that I do see death differently, and it isn’t just talk or bottling up my feelings. I have moments where I can’t believe he is gone, and moments where I feel pangs of loneliness that are brought on by the absence of him in my life. But those moments don’t last long. I have so many other things in my life going on and so many other amazing people that I can talk to and spend time with. No one will ever replace Zak, but that can’t stop me from being happy and enjoying what life has to offer. I’m healthy, I have Brad, I have a great family and friends. And for me, moving forward is something that has to be done. I can’t change what has happened. I can’t go back in time to change the outcome. And I can’t feel guilty for laughing again and enjoying travel, friends and fun. So I am fine. It was a sad moment when he passed and things changed again but there was also relief. I knew it had to happen and not only for me, I wanted it for others so they could heal and move on with their lives also. Zak cared so much for his friends and although he would relish the attention we have given him over these 17 months he ultimately would be more concerned that the people he cared about were so hurt by this event and everything that happened after.
Zak will never be far from my thoughts and I will still think about these past 17 months and the 6 years before, openly and without restraint. If anyone ever needs to talk I’m here, and I hope that Zak will continue coming up in conversation remembering the good times and it won’t make me sad, I will always want to talk about him, so he is never off limits. It makes me glad that we will always remember him and those of us he brought together have learned so much from this experience and we will always have a common thread that will never fade, and that is Zak.
Thank you for letting me vent and speak my mind. This is my therapy.