In Honor of Zach

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Zach’s Story

If ever there is tomorrow when we're not together...there is something you must always remember..You are braver than you believe, stronger the you seem,and smarter than you think...but the most important thing is, even if we're apart...I'll always be with you.-Winnie The Pooh

Zachary Thomas West 08/25/2000-05/11/2013 Zach was born a healthy typical boy, until around the age of two when he started to have trouble walking and talking. We have been on a journey ever since. It took us over 5 years to get Zach properly diagnosed and in the meantime he lost the abilility to walk and talk. He has a very progressive disease called Infantile Neuroaxonal Dystrophy (INAD). Zach lost his battle to INAD on May 11th 2013. Our hearts were forever broken that day.  We honor his smile and amazing memory by doing Zach Attacks throughout the year.

Latest Journal Update

699 Days

It's been 699 days since my son died and yet the ache remains. Like losing a limb, losing a child and grief is a forever thing. It never goes away and 699 days later I still feel the ache. (Make that more a piercing stabbing of the heart.)

Unfortunately, because Zach’s disease was so ugly the hopes,dreams and aspirations I had for Zach went to a pile of mush years before INAD even took him.  I think I did a really good job of getting up each day and making it through the day of taking care of Zach’s needs. My main goal was always loving him more. Still, everyday there is a part of me that thinks I should have done more. I should have tried that diet, I should have raised more money for research, and I should have prayed harder or went to church more. The guilt I feel every day that I couldn’t save him sometimes can consume my brain. Every day I hear stories of miracles.People recovering from things they shouldn’t of recovered from. I often wonder why he couldn’t get that miracle.  Doesn’t God know that this kid was my life and he brought so much good into the world and THIS should not have been his story?

I am a believer, always have been. My faith since Zach has died has only gotten stronger. I try and not ask questions and just think that this is his plan.  I try and think that because God couldn’t save him, he decided to take him home to heaven so the poor kid didn’t suffer another moment.  Believe me, I truly am so thankful that he isn’t suffering anymore. It was awful to watch your child suffer day in and day out because of a stupid disease that I could do nothing about.  But I am not going to sugar coat the fact that I am mad that he wasn’t saved here on earth!  The fact that he is in heaven gives me hope, but it doesn’t mend my very broken heart either. I truly am devastated and want him here with me!

I know for other’s memories are starting to fade.  Some people I talk too think “wow it’s only been two years” others are the opposite and can’t believe how fast two years came.  I am in the middle. Some moments in the day it seems like 699 days took forever and other days 699 days seems like yesterday. Some moments I can close my eyes and hear him in the next room, and other moments I am freaking out that his voice is fading from my brain.PAINFUL.

Memories for Sydney are already fading.  She loves Zach and will always remember her big brother but things that they did together she has forgotten. For her 699 days is a long time ago. PAINFUL.

I know people are going to read this and think- man she must be in a funk or having a really bad day. Not true, promise! I have these thoughts every day, even when you see me with a huge smile on my face.  I thankfully have been given some strange ability to wake up every day, get out of bed, get Syd to school, work fulltime, volunteer, drink a beer with a friend and go to bed and get up again with a broken heart. Pretty Crazy huh? The one thing I learned through all this is no matter what, you can continue to get through life with a broken heart…WHY… Because you don’t have a choice, and I can say very loudly “Thank God for that!” I journal this today because I don’t want to lose memories.  I share my very personal entries with you not for you to feel sorry for me, or to hurt you, or to make you sad. I do it in hopes that if someone else comes across your path with a similar story that you know what they are feeling.

We are working on our very last Mother’s Day Zach Attack.  I hope forever and ever people find ways to remember this amazing kid in random acts of kindness. I think after this Mother’s Day it will be time to hang it up and stop asking for things! They're a lot of amazing causes out there that people are passionate about and I know people get sick of people with their hand out for every cause.  I don’t want people to ever get to the point that they are rolling their eyes at Zach Attacks, or have thoughts "Not Again!". My heart was always there and I wanted something good to continue in Zach’s name.  My hope is that when you think of my sweet guy that you truly do something random for someone else. IF you are donating to another cause and you think of Zach, do it in his memory.

 I hope his memory never fades from you and you continue to bring goodness in his name to make up for the awful thing that was dealt to him. His life was so much more than a kid in a wheelchair. I was a single 22year old mom that had an amazing kid. Zach saved my life. He made me grow up and get my life together, He brought amazing people into my world. Given the choice I wouldn’t trade one second of this heartache. He made me and this world so much better.


Please, please always remember my sweet, sweet boy.


With Faith Comes Hope,


15 people hearted this



jill dahmen
By jill dahmen
Zach will never be forgotten by our family! Thank you for sharing your heart, you are ministering to many, even if you don't know it!
MaryBeth LeFevre
By maryBeth & Alex
Rachele, we remember Zach! We think about him and his amazing smile!
Sandy Morgan
By Love and peace, Sandy(Steven's grandmother) — last edited
Forgetting Zach or you and your family would be next to impossible. Our lives have been forever linked by this horrible disease, INAD. And yet, strangely enough, it was a blessing to have met so many wonderful families because of our common bond. Zach and Steven were born a day apart and I do not think it was a coincidence that Syd was born one day before Steven passed, it was meant to be. It has been 6 years since Steven left us and even I am amazed at how often I think of him, he never leaves me. Grief and broken hearts that never heal are the price we pay for having loved. We would not have wanted to miss the dance no matter the ending. Zach and you will forever remain in my heart. May the heavenly Father bless you with comfort and peace as you continue your journey on this earth without your sweet Zach.
1 person hearted this
Kristi Ose
By Kristi Ose
You never need to worry that I will forget him. I'm so glad I got to know Zach and his infectious smile and laughter will forever be engraved in my heart! I love you!
1 person hearted this
Bethany Nissen
By Bethany Nissen
Thinking of you, Rachele. You are a strong and wonderful mother and Zach was as lucky to have you as you were to have him.
1 person hearted this
Kami Alger
By Kami Alger
I love you! Zach will forever be in my heart. What a special spirit that I was honored to know. 😘
1 person hearted this
Nancy Rudd
By Nancy Rudd
A child should never die before a parent. Even though I do believe in God, and have been one of your 'prayer warriors', I don't believe that a loving God would take a child away from a family for any reason. Unfortunately, we live in an imperfect world, and you made a conscious effort through the free will we do have, to do the best for Zach. In letting us share your life and experience your grief, by starting the Zach Attack, God is looking at you, Rachele, and smiling. With Zach at his side, He is saying: "That is why I made people. So they love and make a better world!". Zach is answering: "Yeah, she's a pretty awesome Mom!" Love to you and your family, Nancy
1 person hearted this
Megan Taylor
By Megan Taylor
You are so good about being honest, even when it hurts. Thanks for continuing to share Zach with us. You are one of the people I think of and pray for every day, and I believe that Zach is always with us from heaven. I don't believe that it makes it any easier to be here without him. I will never forget his smile and all the things he taught me. Thanks for your courage to keep his memory alive and still live each day!

Xoxo- Megan
1 person hearted this
J- Sideen
By Another Zack's Mom
WOW___PAINFUL and poignant....I love how you embraced your grief in this writing---WE will always be the bearers, wears of that soul wrenching loss, feel it physically in our heart--wounded---beautiful--embrace that beauty---it is a part of you---that is part of the change this journey brought you, forever and always---You love More.
Natalie Bauleke
By Natalie Bauleke
It will never fade and will keep going even when you are not in Minnesota...a part of you will be and a part of us who adored him will see to it.
You are a great mom and did and do everything in kids interest first