In the Darkest Hour, Science Doesn’t Matter

On the day of Zack’s memorial service, the sun was shining. I barely noticed as more than one hundred people gathered at the church. Some of them I knew, many I did not. There was a deep fog all around me that made it hard to breathe and hard to see. A fog that the sun could not cut through.

We’d planned almost every second of the service. It would be filled with music because that’s what Zack would love. Because we knew that Zack would rather have us celebrate his life and his laughter than gather his friends and family to weep. I was too numb to cry and my heart was too heavy to handle laughter.

The pastor spoke. A close friend—one of Zack’s favorite blues players—and my youngest daughter played guitar and sang. Students from Zack’s school performed Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Da, the song Zack most loved from the 5th grade school musical. They were accompanied by his music teacher who also accompanied my cousin singing, “I Hope You Dance” (originally performed by Leann Womac).

When the time came for people to speak, the pastor read a poem by my friend OPW Fredericks. My husband said a few words. I took a deep breath and made my way to the podium. For the very last time, I sang Zack’s lullaby, a song I’d sung to him before bed at home and at his bedside in various hospitals. One of the professionals that had worked with Zack at school talked about his laugh and his love of practical jokes. A video compilation of photos of Zachary ran to the songs “Walk On” by Elvis Presley (Zack’s favorite musician) and “Tears in Heaven” by Eric Clapton.

And then we filed out the side door of the church to blow bubbles skyward, a final farewell. A series of awed gasps seeped through the invisible fog around me. “Look up!” “Oh my God, look at that!” “Wow. Just wow.”

I looked up and saw this:

Used with permission from Holly Needham


The invisible fog that was smothering me lifted just long enough to watch a thousand bubbles floating upward. Just long enough to know that Zachary was okay.

Was it a miracle? A sign from God? A scientific anomaly? I don’t know. To me, it was a moment of comfort, a reminder that Zachary would now have the opportunity to walk and run and dance. So now, when my heart is too  heavy for laughter, I think back and find hope in a halo around the sun.

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