Our first Christmas without Zack

By Maureen Bond, mother supported by Very Special Kids

I can’t really remember the first Christmas without Zack. I do however, vividly remember Zack’s very first Christmas with us and the trio of car/truck/tractor that Santa got him; a future full of potential and boyish play. It was a really lovely and exciting time.

The next Christmas was the first one after his hideous diagnosis, which came on the morning of his first birthday in August. This was a Christmas of thankfulness, because we had some time to spend with him.

His third Christmas was spent at home without many problems, although it was probably in between hospital admissions and fortnightly inpatient day treatments. We didn’t know if this may be our last Christmas with him so he was definitely the focus of our day, and we felt lucky to have him with us.

The last Christmas was a three day dash home from the Royal Children’s Hospital (two hours away) ‘on leave’ from a nine week hospital stay after he got an infection. He wasn’t able to do much by this stage so we had a fairly quiet time sitting around on the lounge room floor with Zack. Not many friends or extended family, just a quiet house of immediate family.

The first Christmas without Zack is a bit of a blank, it’s almost a little strange how I don’t remember this particular time; I often wonder if that is a self-protection mechanism at work.

I think it was an anticlimax mostly. We still had to celebrate and be happy for our other children so we just relaxed with my family under the half built carport. It was meant to help keep the weather at bay while loading Zack and all of his equipment into the car but it was built about six months too late. Just before lunch we went up to the cemetery to visit Zack and leave a little toy.

It was awful. We all cried and sobbed and our other young kids looked at us as if we were from another planet. I think at that moment we wished we were!

There is another Christmas I also vividly remember, which was when I ‘forgot’ (got too busy) to go to the cemetery to visit and leave a little gift. That devastated me. I really felt like my heart was more broken than when he passed away, because I did have control over this and I felt that I had messed up. I was sad and upset, but mostly disappointed with myself because I hadn’t made the cemetery visit a top priority. I guess this was the turning point for me, realising I didn’t have to go to the cemetery as a sign of remembrance anymore.

I remember Zack every single day in all sorts of ways. He will always be with me, even if it is only in my heart and my mind now, instead of my arms. Christmas is now about spending time with loved ones and relaxing to enjoy time with family and friends.

I will probably always wonder what things might have been like if it hadn’t been for that diagnosis, but this is how our life is now, so I choose to enjoy what we have, including our fond & fun memories of our gorgeous boy, Zack.

Zack Bond