Happy Birthday Zachary

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Zachary Conner Furtwangler was born 11-10-11.

Today is Zachary's birthday. He would be six years old. He'd be a kindergartner and sitting in class right now with his buddies had he lived. Instead, today has become a family holiday where we take off work and don't go to school so that we can celebrate his little life and the big impact he has made.

The grief I feel no longer feels like the knife in my heart that it was in the early days and years but now more of a rope that on occasion can unexpectedly be pulled too tight and makes tears well up in my eyes. I choose to think of Zachary with joy and share his memory with my three lively littles who feed off of that joy and anticipation for their brother's birthday up in heaven. While they did not meet him, my oldest (who is almost five) has learned to love her big brother and even shares in the sorrow when she realizes she cannot meet him. Of course, as most kids are when it comes to birthdays, they are excited to celebrate their big brother's birthday. For the younger two, it simply means a day of treats and balloons. As we have for the last five years, we will bake cupcakes for the L&D nurses that made his birth special and take balloons to his memorial bench.

Not a day goes by that I don't think of his perfect little face with his pouty lips and button nose. I am grateful that I can look at Zachary every single day as our first family photo and other precious images hang in various places in our house. I am so glad to have found NILMDTS in my darkest hours to photograph my first baby to make him tangible in my home for our family and friends. To allow talking about Zachary to be normal. To allow honoring him by volunteering as part of my healing journey. Every single day I do something for Zachary through the opportunity to volunteer for NILMDTS. Because of Zachary, leading me to NILMDTS, I am able to help other families in our loss community and that feels so good - so healing and right.

~ Ali, Mother to Zachary Conner and NILMDTS Volunteer Coordinator and Area Coordinator