Friday, March 11, 2011

Remembering Zackie

Zack Hamilton

September 21, 2007 - March 10, 2011


Live Well, Laugh Much, Love Often



Early in the morning on March 10, 2011, we lost a hero and our special little guy Zackie Hamilton, who died in the arms of his mommy and daddy, Heather and Paul Hamilton at Sick Kids Hospital.

Zack was born in September 2007 with a congenital heart defect known as Total Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Drainage (TAPVD). At two and a half weeks old, Zack underwent a procedure at Sick Kids to repair his heart. Zack’s survival at that time, was the first of many miracles in his life. Zack also had several other anomalies, including hearing loss, global developmental delay, feeding issues, GTube, seizures, and fluid in the brain. Though he had no official overall diagnosis, the genetics team discovered Zack had a deletion of the 12th chromosome. This deletion is the first recorded case in the world, making Zack a very special and unique little guy.

Two weeks ago, Zack was hospitalized with pneumonia and an Influenza B virus. His lungs were so severely infected, that Zack required assistance breathing. With his Mommy never leaving his side, he fought to stay strong but eventually needed to be put on a ventilator. During the intubation process, Zack's weak heart suffered a cardiac arrest. The amazing Critical Care team at Sick Kids performed CPR on Zack for 45 minutes and miraculously kept him alive. He was immediately placed on life support and just like he did his entire life, he fought the odds against him and shocked the entire medical team by surviving days after the trauma he experienced. The impact caused by the lack of oxygen to his brain during the resuscitation process, caused severe damage including an irreversible end to all of his brain activity.

When Zack was born, his future was uncertain but that never stopped him! With the help of his parents, brothers, caring therapists, friends and family, Zack lived life to the fullest! His infectious smile will be remembered by everyone who ever met him. He amazed everyone around him with all that he accomplished in his short life, including walking this past November! He inspired those around him and continued to teach lessons of perseverance, determination and resilience. He worked hard to accomplish his heart’s desire and never gave up. His happiest times were watching Elmo, playing drums, jumping on his trampoline, eating Froot Loops and walking around the house after his brothers.

Zack is already terribly missed by his very proud mommy and daddy, adoring big brother Ty, and loving twin brother Jayden. He will forever be in the hearts of Nana and Poppa (Peter and Lynda Oliver), Auntie Erin, Uncle Gary and cousin Tristan Cerrato. Forever remembered by Uncle Lorenzo and Auntie Karen Walker, Godmother Libbie Oag and several therapists, nurses, doctors and loving friends.

At 3 years old, our Zackie has touched many more people that he ever could have realized. Life is best measured by impact and not duration. In that way, Zack lived a life of incredible importance.

Visitation is on Sunday, March 13th at 2-4pm and 6-8pm. Funeral, burial and reception will be Monday, March 14th at 11am. Both being held at Elgin Mills Cemetery, 1591 Elgin Mills Rd. East, Richmond Hill.

Children are encouraged to come to participate in all aspects of the celebration of Zack’s life and to say goodbye to their little friend. We have crafts and cards for them to write messages to Zack or to Ty and Jayden. Please bring them to the visitation and service.

Please consider a donation in Zackie's honour to SickKids. They gave us three years of pure love, joy and pride with our miracle son.

68 comments:

Bubbie Bonnie said...

Beautifully written Heather. A true testament to the wonderful little guy Zack was. My love goes out to your entire family. I will see you on Sunday.

Anonymous said...

My heart breaks for you and your family. Thoughts and prayers are with you all during this sad time.

An-Su said...

My heart breaks for you and your family. Thoughts and prayers are with you all during this sad time.

Did not want it to be Anonymous.

Devan @ Accustomed Chaos said...

Sending you so much love. My heart is with you & my arms are around you.

The Speech Therapy Centres of Canada Ltd. said...

A beautiful tribute to an amazing little boy, written by the most incredible mother I've ever known.

Suz said...

You are in our prayers

Miranda said...

Praying for you and thinking about you.

Courtney Fisk said...

my heart is breaking for you. how blessed zack was to live such a full life with such wonderful parents. prayers for you all as you morn the loss of your angel.

Maria said...

My deepest sympathies to you and your family. My thoughts and prayers are with you during this very difficult time.

Jennifer Gilbert said...

My deepest sympathies Heather. I will give you a huge hug on Sunday when I see you.

Brandi_enthusiastichomemaking.blogspot.com said...

My heart is breaking for you, may you find peace and courage in your tragic loss.

Please know that sharing your story has helped me to appreciate the blessings I have in life, and I've been reminded of how precious and fragile life is. It makes my petty everyday difficulties seem so insignificant as to be absurd. I will give my children extra hugs, love, and patience today because of you.

Chelle (hanwayink) said...

My heart goes out to you & your whole family. I am so sorry for the loss you have suffered.

Rhonda Jacobson said...

Your precious Zack will remain forever in our hearts.
Heather and Paul - your strength, courage and wisdom are an inspiration to all.

Donna said...

I am so sorry to read about this devastating loss, your boy sounded like one in a million. He will be watching over you all eternally, hoping to see the comfort of happy memories in your smiles

C said...

I am so sorry to hear the news. Thinking of you guys and sending love and prayers.

Kath said...

Heather - this is so beautiful. Zackie has touched our hearts so deeply and we will miss him each and every day. We are so honored to have been part of his life. Zackie taught us how to truly cherish every day and to always smile through good days and bad. Zackies beautiful smile will help me get through these very sad days.

Lianna said...

I first read about your family on BLOOM. The original story about keeping focused on marriage was inspirational. When I read about your loss of Zack, my heart broke. I want you to know that your son and your family and YOU have touched our hearts deeply.

This is such a beautiful tribute. May everyone celebrate the full life your son lived!

Alexandria said...

I feel very blessed to have met Zackie, and am so sad his light has gone out so soon. What an amazing little man.

Leanne said...

What a beautiful post for a very special boy and his amazing family. Words cannot express how sad I am for your entire family as well as those lucky enough to have known Zack in person or through your posts. May we all get inspiration and strength from Zackie's amazing spirit and the love he shared with everyone he met.

Lisa said...

Heather, I recently started reading a book called "Changed By A Child" to try help me along my own journey. I just wanted you to know, I HAVE been changed by a child - your child. And by you and your story of strength, grace and courage. Sending much love to you and your family. Thank you for sharing this beautiful tribute to Zack.

Sara R. said...

I am heartbroken for you and your family. You all are in our thoughts and prayers. What a beautiful angel you all now have watching over you!

Susan said...

My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family. Many hugs to you.

Anonymous said...

God bless you and your family, during this difficult time. Your heart is breaking and the pain may seem to much to bear. But I bet you can feel your little angels arms around you now. I bet he is saying "thank you mom and dad for your unconditional love, and tenacious spirt, it is what willed me to accomplish miracles everyday."

Karyn Climans said...

Zack was blessed in his life with loving parents and siblings. The entire Twitter community is thinking of you and sending you virtual hugs.

BLOOM - Parenting Kids With Disabilities said...

I remember being intrigued when I came across your blog and saw that photo of you and Zack looking into each others' eyes -- magic!

I was so delighted when I saw you unexpectedly -- out of the corner of my eye -- in the Holland Bloorview resource centre.

We didn't get to meet for long, but you wrote me a very special e-mail after reading BLOOM. You made me feel valued.

Then you wrote a candid, practical, invaluable blog for BLOOM about the impact of having a child with special needs on a marriage. We posted it on Valentine's day and it resonated deeply with readers.

I was looking forward to getting to know you better -- and getting to meet Zack again. You had already committed to writing for the print magazine -- right?

I was shocked when I read about Zack at SickKids on Sherry's blog. I didn't realize how tenuous his medical challenges were.

Thank you for sharing this remarkable story about Zack and the joy and meaning he's brought to your lives.

I remember when we were waiting for a diagnosis for my newborn son, asking my husband: "Couldn't we still be a happy family?"

And that, my friend, is what you were and are. A happy, loving family. What more could a boy ask for?

I send you lots of love. xoxoxoxooxx

Wilson family said...

My thoughts and prayers are with your family. Thank you for sharing the very special person Zack was in your lives. My he be forever held gently in the arms of God.

Brenda and family

Anna said...

Heather & family,
I am truly sorry to hear about your great loss. Francesco and I were fortunate to have met Zack last summer during our signing class and he was such an amazing little guy.
Our prayers and thoughts are with you and your family during this time.
God Bless,
Bart, Anna & Francesco Ludkowski

Jana said...

As I said to your mother tonight, "the best job in the world is being a mother and you know you did yours when you have a daughter like Heather".... You are an inspiration, you are a fabulous mother, wife and friend. Zackie was a gift to all of us for 3.5 years and his love and light will will continue to shine within us.... I hope one day I can be half the mother that you are. You inspire me. My heart is with you. We now have a special little angel. Always.

Moderate to Severe said...

My heart goes out to you and your family. May you find comfort in your wonderful memories of what sounds like an amazing little man.

rheanne said...

So very sorry to hear of your loss. You have written beautifully about your precious boy. My thoughts are with you as you and your family in such a difficult time. Thank-you for sharing something so deeply personal and so incredibly meaningful.

Cheryl said...

Heather,

I've been following you on Twitter for a while now (PTPA) and remember when you posted that Zackie started walking and it was a Christmas miracle. I was so happy to hear that. When I learned he was sick and that he eventually lost his fight, I was so sad for you and your family. Please accept my condolences to you and your entire family.

MAMA BRANDI said...

My family sends prayers to you. God bless your family. God bless you and give you strength.

Smita said...

Zackie will be missed dearly by all of us but we are honored that we were able to share in his life for the last 3 1/2 years. We will forever remember and cherish our fond memories of him. Zackie was so fortunate to have two of the most amazing parents we know - and you were fortunate to have the honour in raising such an incredible little boy.

Deb Manni said...

Thank you so much for sharing Heather. I feel so connected to you even though I know we have only spent a little time together. I am away for Zack's funeral, but I would really like to come visit. I hope we can arrange something after the March Break. My thoughts are with you and your family during this difficult time. Love, Debora

Tanya said...

What a beautiful story. I imagine it is hard to see the light in these dark days, but I hope you find peace in reading these comments and knowing just how many lives you and Zackie have touched. So many wonderful things have come from his life - he has had a bigger impact on the earth than many of us hope to accomplish in 80 years. He is a true hero, and so are you. Thank you for sharing so much of him with all of us. Big hugs.

Lisa van de Geyn said...

Heather & Hamilton family,

I've been reading your blog posts and countless Twitter messages and can't find the words to express how truly sorry I am for you and your family. Zack must have been a very cool little man. :) He was an inspiration and a miracle.

I hope everyone makes a donation to Sick Kids in Zack's name.

Thinking of you,
Lisa van de Geyn
(Today's Parent magazine)

Marina Chernyak said...

Heather, this is so beautifully written. You were blessed with such a wonderful child. A little hero. I'm honored to have had the chance to meet him and experience his beautiful smile in person. You're an amazing person and mom. I will see you on Sunday. Love, Marina

Anonymous said...

It looks like the universe put Zac into your lives to bring you joy and happiness and you his. He sounds like a fabulous little warrior and from Australia I sent my love and condolences.

Susan Lindo said...

A beautiful tribute to your son Heather. Our condolences to all of your family and hope you find strength in the memory of such a brave little boy.

tekeal said...

thank you again for your words at BLOOM and for sharing the love of zack's smile. the next time time I see fruit loops I just may buy them and eat them in zackie's honor.

so very sorry for your loss and sending prayers and love to your family.

Jen D. said...

I know there are many of us at the bridge thinking and praying for your family during this time. What a gift Zach was! Thank you for sharing about his life and your journey together. May God's peace surround you.

Carina said...

Paul and Heather, I am so sorry for your loss. Thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time.

Lauren said...

My thoughts are with you and your family Heather. I am so sorry for your loss. What a beautiful diary. Lauren

Lynn said...

Heather, Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful tribute with us. I feel so blessed to have known Zackie, even if only for a short while. His memory and his spirit will live on in our hearts forever. You truly are an inspiration to us all. I send you much love during this sad and difficult time.

Diana - Teacher Mom said...

I am so terribly sorry for your loss, Heather. You and your family will be in our thoughts and prayers, especially over the next couple of days.

Jen A said...

For some moments in life there are no words. Words seem inadequate to express the sadness you must feel.

My thoughts and prayers to you, your family and all those that zack touched.

I can tell from your blog how special Zack was and even though I never met him in real life I will miss him as well.

Deb said...

Thank you for sharing your story with us and allowing us to walk this journey with you. Your words and actions have impacted so many and Zack has touched so many people through his life. Hope you find strength in knowing that we are here for you, and praying for you and your family. Supermommy indeed :)

Jayda said...

So sorry to hear about your loss. Can not imagine what you all are going through but without a doubt Id say he was an angel on earth now playing in heaven. Thoughts and prayers to you all

Jen said...

I never knew Zack, I had only chatted with you online a few times, in short bursts. But when I heard Zack was in the hospital, I cried. I cried because I knew that your family was going through something that no family should have to. I cried because I have been so blessed that at this point in time, my children are happy and healthy. I cried becuase I know that can change in an instant.
Please know that even though we've never met, both you and Zack have changed me. I look at my kids and feel so blessed.

I proudly wear elmo on my twitter, and I will as long as I can.

Zack (and your family) will be in my thoughts forever. For every time I see my kids play with an Elmo toy, he'll cross my mind. When we pass a store display or Sesame street comes on TV, I'll think of Zack. As I'm sure you will too.

I am so very sorry for your loss, and I wish I was closer so I could do more to help. But know that I will forever celebrate in Zack's life.

Tyrone said...

Unbelievable. Condolences to everyone. This shouldn't happen to any kid, especially one as cute as him.

LindsayDianne said...

Can't believe all you've gone through, what a touching post about such an amazing baby. His pictures show what an incredible soul he had.
Our thoughts are with you at this difficult time.

Katy said...

I am so sorry for your loss. My heart aches for you guys. Thoughts and prayers for you all during this time.

Scattered Mom said...

Thinking of you and your family.

Annie @ PhD in Parenting said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. My thoughts are with you and your family.

pamela said...

i am so so sorry for your loss.

My heart breaks for your family and friends of your beautiful little Zach.

Sending all the love and light I have.

Oatie - IWillSkate on Ice said...

Dear Heather, I'm a follower of Sherry's blog, and so sorry to hear about Zack, my heart breaks for you and your family. Thoughts and prayers are with you all during this sad time. He was a beautiful child through and through. Love from the otherwise of Canada, Mel "Oaties mum" xxx

Cody said...

I don't know you, but my heart aches for you. ♥

Natalie said...

I am so sorry for your loss. My heart breaks for you & your family. Helen Keller once said 'What we have once enjoyed, we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us." Take comfort in your memories, he will live on in you forever.

My sincerest condolences.

Kirk West said...

My sincerest and most heart-felt condolences. It is truly sad news.

David Sexton said...

I've only read your post on Bloom and again here, but I am very sad for you and your family. Please accept my condolences on the loss of Zack.

Anonymous said...

I don't know you personally either, only through your blog. But your journey with Zackie has touched my heart. You are all an inspiration and I have no doubt his legacy will continue.
Although Zackie is no longer walking beside you, he will always be holding your hand.
I wish you love, peace and strength as you continue on your journey.

Jennifer said...

My first time meeting Zack was about a month after I started working on Paul's team. The two of you graciously hosted a group of us at your house to celebrate the holidays, my most memorable moment from that visit was meeting Zack. I remember leaving your house thinking how much love you and Paul had for each of your boys, but the image that has stuck in my head is Zack sitting in your lap on the floor of the play/ family room surrounded by all of the other kids. The way that Zack looked up at you was inspiring, and while all the other adults were in the other room chatting about “adult stuff”, you stayed right there with the kids making sure Zackie was always part of all the action. If I am ever fortunate to have kids I hope that they have half as much love for me as Zack and the boys have for the two of you. I hope that my son/ daughter’s face lights up the same way Zack’s does when he hears Paul’s booming voice. Your family is an inspiration and I feel fortunate to have met you all.

Jen O’Doherty

Amber said...

I wish I had been able to meet your little miracle. It sounds as if I would have been better off for it. I'm so glad you got the time with him that you did, but I'm sorry for the pain you are going through now. Please know that people all over the world, many of whom you don't even know, are thinking of you and praying for your whole family. <3

Shirley said...

Thank you for sharing your amazing Tribute video to Zackie. While I never knew your son, your video has given me a glimpse into the joy that this special child has brought to your family. While there's nothing that I can say that will ease your grief, know that Zackie's absence won't be forever. He's simply playing with the angels until you meet again.

I lost my daughter to T18 in 2007 but, unlike you, we weren't blessed with the opportunity to share even a kiss with our special angel. So, please don't mourn the time that you lost, rather, cherish and rejoice in all the little moments that you shared. I know that when I next visit my angel at Elgin Mills, she will tell me about her new friend Zackie.

Hugs to you.

Anonymous said...

Heather; it is never easy to raise a child with health issues. I am a complete stranger to you however my heart breaks for you and you family. Be strong. Thoughts and prayers are with you and your family at this very sad time.

Lisa Cash Hanson said...

I am praying for your family during the Holiday season and after. May God grand you continued strength - I can't even imagine.

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