words and whimsy as we root down and rise up…

To Receive…



In the air, flying… DFW to Honolulu

Deep in reading, a two year old noggin heavy upon my arm…

For some reason I gaze to the window and smile at the clouds(another story for another day).

Suddenly, a slight tip of the plane or a break in the cumulus…

I saw the Grand Canyon.

First, and only momentarily, elation, memories (another story), magic at this gift of connection to this sacred space if only in air.

Followed immediately by doubt, it was only a moment, it couldn’t have been, repeated fervent glances out now only to see a sea of murky clouds.

A decision.

To receive the gift.
The moment.
The memories.

Grateful…

#ichooselove, zachary, final

“Happiness only real when shared…”
Christopher McCandless

In my previous post I discussed why Christopher’s story always reminded me somewhat of Zachary’s . Perhaps that is why the above quote struck me so profoundly this time when discussing it with a friend.

And as I share Zachary’s story I am beginning to realize that the same, only being real if shared, is true of story and sadness and grief and anger…

Then this morning I read this quote that solidified this concept… that anything unshared isn’t quite real…

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted…
~ Jesus, Matthew 5:4

Mourning is only real when shared…

It really hit home. In my gut, through my heart, the tears flowed…

I have never really mourned Zachary’s death publicly. I have never really shared my sorrow with others, perhaps even in my family. That’s not what I do, not even with myself… Instead I get angry.

I keep myself busy. I distract. I don’t address or acknowledge unless I find myself in a slow quiet spot or a dark silent night…

In deciding to do the show for Zachary it became apparent I would have to share his story. To share my story, to make him real.

In sharing his story it became apparent that I never really mourned him because for so many years he was never really around. A quick pass through town, just long enough to shake things up, upset those around him, perhaps get in to trouble and move on.

I realized I was angry. Because it was easier to be angry than sad…

Anger that he couldn’t be tamed. That he wouldn’t stay home with me. That he wasn’t living up to his full or even partial potential. Anger that he seemed to have to work pretty hard at fucking things up because really, he had so much going for him.

I chose anger… Because it is easier to be angry than lonely or disappointed.

Admitting now that when I went to the hospital the first time and saw him broken and battered and comatose that when I sensed his spirit, that he was still here, I was hopeful but simultaneously horrified.

Horrified that he might be a vegetable for years on end.
Horrified that he would require round the clock care.
Horrified that he would hate to live that way and really have no choice.

But again I chose anger. Because it is easier to be angry than horrified…

And when I went back the last time, after he suffered pulmonary arrest because my always absent father had pulled his dnr without telling us, that he had suffered pulmonary arrest and been resuscitated. and that now again, the man who saw fit to pull the dnr was nowhere to be found, the relief I felt when my mom and I finally walked in the ICU room. Though visibly in physical distress due to whatever happens in the body when the heart still lives but the brain is gone, relief that his spirit had been set free to journey once again. This time without pain, without addiction.

But again I chose anger. Because it is easier to be angry than to be relieved your brother is going to die.

The sadness I felt when I sang “let it be” to him time after time the first visit and he squeezed my hand as I did so (involuntary muscle response my ass doctors) and the relief that there was no response on this visit.

Anger… Instead of sadness and relief…

The sadness I felt when I sat with my mom and we had to listen to the doctor tell us even after the plug was pulled Zach could live for weeks. In contrast the peace I felt as I flew home and lost myself in the clouds as Zach made his departure moments after I left. The final call from my mom upon landing. Zach was gone. This time forever.

Anger… Instead of sadness and peace…

So here I am, acknowledging my anger. Sharing it’s existence with all of you. In sharing it’s existence it becomes real and I can let it go…
And as I release my anger I share my mourning. After almost 12 years. I share it, and now it is real… And in making it real I begin to let it go… And allow myself some comfort…

Happiness, sorrow, grief, story, anger, mourning…
Anything…
Only real when shared…

come share with me, the memory of Zachary on April 26. It would have been his 39th birthday. Instead of cake and candles, I will be holding a benefit art show in his honor. #ichooselove…

interested in the rest of the story???

why?

part 1

part 2

part 3

part 4

part 5

 

#ichooselove, zachary, part 5

Zachary and his own adventure in to the wild…

In the 1990′s when the story of Christopher McCandless became main stream I was intrigued. I saw so many connections between the way McCandless was presented to live and think and the way my brother did.

  • They were similar in age.
  • They were both middle class white males.
  • They both had troubled relationships with their parents.
  • They both had dreams that they followed through on of epic adventure in the United States.
  • They both intentionally bucked American norms and desired separation from organized society.
  • They both were incredibly intelligent and loved to read.

And…

  • They both had a seemingly complete and utter lack of common sense.

I’m not trying to romanticize Zachary and his journey. Unlike McCandless, Zach was addicted to drugs. He made lots of poor choices that hurt others outside of himself. He journeyed through the wilds of urbanity vs the wide open spaces of our wilderness. He was not McCandless and yet had so many similarities.

3 weeks before McCandless died he is said to have scrawled, “Happiness only real when shared”

Though Zachary may have never directly expressed this to me in words he did in other ways. Happiness, loneliness, fear… He made these feelings reality by collect calls from random destinations, quick passes through town, occasionally attempting to settle down and stay for good. I believe these are the things Zach would do when he needed to confirm his reality, his existence, his experience. And in a way I think these calls and visits home did just that, confirmed all the dreams and mostly the nightmares he had lived while he was on the streets, which is also why he could never stay…

There is one other stark similarity between Zachary and McCandless…
One I didn’t know of when I first heard of McCandless in the 90′s.

The very adventures that in ways brought them life, also brought them both premature death…

Zachary Zamecki was hitchhiking across country in June 2001. The car was in an accident in Northern California just outside of the small town of Eureka. He was ejected from it because he was not wearing a seat belt. Airlifted as a John Doe it took over a week for the hospital to locate us. After two months in a coma Zachary passed away.

April 26th would have been Zach’s 39th birthday. I am holding an art show commemorating him. All proceeds from sales at the show will benefit homeless and runaway youth.

#ichooselove

#ichooselove, zachary, part 4

As we return to my story of Zachary and the reason for #ichooselove on April 26 let’s review…

Zach ran away for the first time in his early teens.
It was never just down the street.
It happened again and again.

Why?

In writing this, and probably for some time previous, I realized I will never know this answer. No one will. I can only speak to what happened that I was part of and my experience of it.

I continue to feel inclined to tell you story after story of Zach and his experiences. To paint a picture in your head. To give him some sense of existence. I keep coming full circle to the realization that so many of the stories are not mine to tell and so I won’t.

Instead as I begin to wrap this series up I will share a few things i can share about Zachary…

Seemingly random but they might help you to know him as I did… They might help make him a bit more real to you.

Zachary was one of the most intelligent people I have ever known. however, he saw no reason to apply this intelligence to anything he was not interested in.

Zachary was tall and lanky, measuring over 6′ 4″.

Zachary was, according to others, attractive, charismatic, charming even (I’m his sister so can not really speak to any of the above)…

Zachary was a reader. He loved to read above all else. Even when hitching he usually had a book or two with him. Ironically one of his favorites as a pre teen was “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”.

Zachary was sensitive. He had a hard time when my mom left my dad when we were young despite it being a necessary choice. He carried this upset forward with him and always had a hard time with my stepfather despite everything he did to try and help him.

Zachary was a loner. He had a hard time fitting in when we moved to town.

Zachary was different. He was ostracized by his peers. Jumped almost daily in one neighborhood we lived in. At some point he seemed to embrace this being different and intentionally amplified it.

Zachary spent a lot of time in the principal’s office. Little time in class and eventually rarely made it to school at all. I have a vivid recollection of one teacher asking me one December in high school what my brother looked like. I asked why and his response was, “Because he is in my class and I’ve never actually never seen him…” Despite all this he did graduate.

Zachary spent much of his teenage years split between our house in Colorado, my father’s house in Las Vegas, on the streets, and who knows where else in between. This continued into adulthood, when he crashed on my floor in Boulder and Denver a few times for days to weeks on end.

Zachary was addicted to drugs. Starting with huffing as a young teen and escalating to other drugs rather quickly. At one point in high school Zachary had one of many interventions and when attempting to place him in a juvenile program the directors essentially told my mom and stepdad to do so would be a waste of time. Zachary was too deeply knowledgable and addicted. After completing his in-house adult program he attended AA meetings with many of the people he was supposed to respect and listen to (teachers, law enforcement, etc.) Nothing ever helped him for any extended period of time.

Zachary didn’t run away from home for the first time at 13. He and I ran away together when I was 6 and he was 7. My mom had left us with a close family friend and we had gotten in to trouble for excluding our younger sister from something. We were sent to our rooms. I have a vivid recollection of climbing out his bedroom window with a sleeve of saltines and some water. We loaded them into our little red wagon and headed in to the prairie. I know we stayed away a long time. It was dark when we returned and we were in trouble. We obviously each took separate lessons away from that experience. His was not to never run away…

So above are a few random facts. I can’t say how I chose these or why. I only know that as I wrap up sharing his story over the next two posts I wanted anyone reading to know a little more about him.

Final fact and one that seems to be common in many of those listed above; Zachary heard the call of the wild from a young age and was intent upon answering it…

April 26. #ichooselove. A benefit art show in Zachary’s honor.

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