Shuck and Jive

Monday, July 30, 2012

Zach On My Mind

I did suit up and do the liturgy on Sunday.  My colleague and friend, honorably retired PCUSA minister, Rev. Don Steele, put the worship service together and preached as he did the week before.  Don also officiated at Zach's two memorial services.  We had a big one for the community on July 15th and a private one at the funeral home with family on July 3rd.   Don was with us as we completed Zach's journey at the crematorium on Independence Day.   I am grateful for Don and grateful that he and his partner, Jeffrey, have moved to Elizabethton.  

This week I will put the worship service together and will preach on Sunday.  This Sunday marks my seventh anniversary with this congregation.    This month also marks the sixth anniversary of Shuck and Jive.   Those who have read this blog know that I use to it to process a lot of things.  I started it because of grief.   It was my grief regarding a move and, I know it is hard to write this without it sounding weird, the impending descent of industrial civilization.  

Now I grieve over my dead son, Zachary. 

I'll take the collapse of industrial civilization any day. 

I am blogging as part of my grief work.   Not everything by any means will be posted here.  I will create a private blog for the private stuff.   I seek to be careful to honor my family's privacy and to honor Zach's memory.    A little public grief will be OK.   You all are welcome to read and comment.   I will try to tell the truth.    For obvious reasons, I will only write about my experience, not my family's.   I don't do it because I think it is going to help anybody.   Maybe it will someday.  I really don't care right now.  I do it for me.

What I write may sound raw.  That is because it is.  I assure you that this is grief.  I don't need anyone to do anything about it.   Don't worry.  It's OK.   Really.   So you know, I am doing some things that I think are healthy and helpful.   I am using my six EAP counseling hours from the Presbyterian Board of Pensions and have scheduled grief counseling with an out of town professional.   I likely will be using more than six.   As suggested, I have been reading Robin's blog.  Thanks, Robin.  : )  

I finally got my eyes checked.  Those glasses that I can hardly see out of because the lenses are all scratched up?  Those ones?  I am getting a new pair.   They will be ready in a few days.  I purchased a membership to the Franklin Fitness Center.  I also got one for my daughter so we can play racquetball.    Zach left two full bottles of men's multi-vitamins.   There must be about 400 of these vitamin pills.  I am going to take one each day and pretend I am ingesting a little bit of Zach.  

I went to a couple of bookstores and stocked up on some grief books.  We have them lying around the coffee table and check them out to see if we are normal.   I washed my son's car, cleaned and vacuumed it, and had the oil changed.   The car radio was on the classic rock station.   The man liked good tunes.   His car and the truck he used to drive that no longer runs are in the driveway.   I have heard that a charitable organization will take them and transform them into good deeds.   That sounds like a plan when I am ready to let them go. 

We do laugh a lot.  And cry.  And sigh.  A lot of sighing.  I also say "Shit" and "Fuck" more often than your everyday man of the cloth might.   The poor dogs.  They are getting exercise.   I am walking the legs off the little buggers.  I like to walk through the cemetery.   I take longer with them now.   I stop more often for sniffs and rolls.

I wrote my letter for the August newsletter to the congregation.  I wrote that I want to avoid two things.  I want to avoid pretending that I can "do my job" as if nothing happened.   On the other side I want to avoid using the congregation as group therapy.    I hope to be professional and authentic.   And practically perfect in every way.  I doubt that I will be a perfect little griever.   That's OK.  You don't have to be perfect either.  So how about we go with that?

Last time I said I didn't want to talk to anyone and that I wanted to run away.   Well, yeah, but not all the time.  I do like to talk about Zach.   I'll show you pictures.  Here he is rocking out.

I don't want him to fade.  I like to say his name.  I like it when others say it, too.  Everywhere I look are Zachs.   We named him Zachary in the late 80s and it appears his name is coming of age.    It is going to be so hard watching all of these young men do the things we hoped Zach would do.  

Time for a cry...


  1. My prayers continue to be with you and your family. I'm happy that you are finding Robin's blog helpful. She is a wonderful person who is so honest about her grief.

    Maggie J

  2. I am crying for you, my dear friend,that I don't really know. It sounds like you are doing all the right things, i mean that in a sincere way. One day at a time....

  3. I see your sense of humor shining through this, and I know you will be ok in time. Take all the time you need.

  4. I'd love to hear more about Zach.

  5. I didn't know until today. I am so sorry.

  6. John, I can't even begin to completely understand what you are going through. Your grief is real and consuming and that is the way it should be right now.

    I never knew Zach, but if he was anything like his Dad. Then he must have been a wonderfully caring individual.

    John, I know no amount of words of comfort that anyone can give will relieve the pain. If you feel screaming at the top of your lungs, then that is okay.

    The congregation will be there for you. I am sure I speak for many when I say it is just fine to take as much time as needed.

    Lastly, if you Beverly, or Katie need a shoulder. I am there for you. My hugs and shoulders are strong and can support the weight. You all are very dear to me in more ways than being my pastor.

    Please heal as you see fit.

  7. @Maggie, thanks for your prayers and Robin has been very helpful.

    @Leanne, bless you...

    @Snad, bless you, too!

    @Jodie, thanks, at some time I'll be ready...

    @Sea, thank you...

    @Bruce, yes, Zach was a wonderful man. Thank you...

  8. Remember I am only a phone call away and I am a good listener.