Zackaël’s Soaring Love

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Thank you to everyone who commented on my last post. We currently have a tie between 4 myths. I’m still leaving the poll open in hopes of getting more votes! If you didn’t have a chance to vote, if you can take 5 minutes to pick one or two myths. This will help me chose the one to talk about, I would very much appreciate it! Please share the post if you can.

Today, I am revealing the painting chosen by my mother! As mentioned in Under Zackaël’s Wings post, I am excited to reveal the other painting created in honor of Zackaël. The artist, Vé Boisvert, once again produced a beautiful masterpiece with magnificent colours. The title “L’envolée d’amour de Zackaël” translates to “Zackaël’s Soaring Love”.

The Reveal

Video taken in Hearst Ontario by my parents.

The red symbolizes the infinite love we have for Zackaël and the love he gave us. It also reminds us of his beautiful lips, as well as the red shirts he often wore. The blue unmistakably evokes the radiance of his beautiful sky-blue eyes. The tones of green are very present since it was his favorite colour. We also see bronze-caramel which reminds us of his silky blonde hair. Finally, the abundance of white reflects his softness and the perfection he represented. Additionally, the white represents the peace that Zackaël, from his heavenly kingdom, sends us on his angel wings.

Before and After

Before and After - Without and with artwork from Vé Boisvert
What a Difference!
Vé Boisvert - Zackaël
My mother Yvonne with the painting in her home

Inspiration

After my mother chose the title for the canvas, I was inspired to create a slideshow in honour of Zackaël. As you may already know, my little Zackaël loved to jump and be in the air. I knew he would be a gymnast and maybe even become an airplane pilot. He had a natural talent in trampoline and gymnastics.

The title caught my attention because I imagined my little Zackaël flying. Jumping to soar to the sky, with love and poise. Our little Zackaël shows us his superb somersaults, a beautiful spectacle. I’m sure he’s having fun in the clouds jumping high.

Celebration of his Life

After the accident, I promised Zackaël that I will always continue to talk about him and celebrate his life. This is why I encourage you to view the entire slideshow, even if you find it difficult.

The slideshow may bring you to tears and that’s okay. As such, you might want to find a quiet moment to watch it. It’s normal to take a little break too and pause it. Make sure to turn on the sound to hear the beautiful song.

It’s important that we keep talking about him. The fact that he left this world will always be sad and there’s nothing we can do to change that. However, what we can do is to continue to commemorate him, and to cherish all the beautiful moments we had with Zackaël. At the same time, you get to know him more… he so deserves to be known. Thank you for viewing it and getting to know him.

Slideshow in Honour of Zackaël


You liked the artwork and the slideshow? Please don’t hesitate to leave your comments, I appreciate them very much! I added a Facebook share button if you would like to share this post.

That’s it for now. Thank you so much for participating in last week’s poll and sharing your thoughts in the comments!

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Under Zackaël’s Wings

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Today was a very cold, but very sunny day. A perfect day to receive a beautiful creation. In fact, earlier this morning, I received a wonderful surprise by courier! In my post “20 Ways to Remember our Loved Ones“, I briefly mentioned that we had asked an artist to create a painting in honour of Zackaël.

Last fall, my mom mentioned that she would like to give me something special in honour of Zackaël. I immediately thought of the artist Vé Boisvert (Véro). My mother replied that she also loved Véro’s paintings. Since we’ve always been impressed by Véro’s work, we thought “why don’t we get each our own painting” in honour of Zackaël. I’ve always liked that Véro’s creations are semi-abstractions, as they allow our imagination to dictate what we want to perceive.

The paintings of Vé Boisvert

Before describing the artwork that I received today, I would like to explain the story behind it. For any custom order, in order to ensure maximum customer satisfaction, Véro first creates two canvases. The first canvas is usually the one that contains the colours requested (preferred) by the customer. For the second canvas, Véro brings another dynamic and generally uses a different technique. Once the two canvases are completed, she lets the client choose the one they prefer between the two.

Since my mother wanted me to be completely satisfied with her gift, we had the idea that Véro could paint my mother’s first. This way, if there was a little something extra that I would like for my canvas, it would be easier to identify after first seeing my mother’s.

My mom chose a 36 ”x 48” horizontal canvas for her living room. I decided on a 60 ”x 48” vertical canvas for my living room.

The two canvases

As described above, Véro created two canvases for my mother to give her the option to choose between two. Once my mom’s painting is completed, Véro will work on mine.

On February 11, my mom and I received photos (from Véro) of the two 36 ”x 48” paintings, from which my mother had to pick her favorite. I immediately loved both canvases. They each have their own personality and differ in their colours and techniques; the first was created by brushstrokes, while the second by spatula strokes. Obviously, the green colour and the personality of Zackaël are reflected in both.

My mom and I both agreed that the first one would go well with her décor and was a good representation of Zackaël. The second one would therefore be sold externally.

However, the more I looked at the second one, the more I fell in love with it. I think it was the colours that really stood out to me. It was then that I decided to buy the second one, which was not at all planned! When I called Véro to tell her, she had already put it up for sale online as soon as she knew my mom had chosen the first one. But I couldn’t let it go!

I thought about my own situation and realized that I didn’t have enough art in my house. The canvas would be perfect for my dining room which always had empty walls!

Why I decided to buy the second painting

First, I love the variety of shades of green, as well as white, colours that represent Zackaël. White is the colour of purity and of an angel, my beautiful Zackaël. The iridescent mauve appealed to me greatly because it reminded me of Adélie. In fact, over the past year I have often posted about Zackaël and Adélie, and I regularly put on a little purple heart to represent Adélie 💜. I also often use a blue heart to symbolize Maxandre 💙, a recurring colour in the canvas. Finally, the bronze and silver bring a beautiful shimmering glow. These two colours enrich the canvas even more and they make me think of metallic armors that Carl and I must have to overcome such an ordeal.

Example of Emoticon Hearts I Would Use

The reveal

When I unwrapped it this morning
Close-up
The reveal to the kids

The title of the canvas

Thus, I came to realize that the canvas represented our little family perfectly. The four of us are cradled in Zackaël’s wings, his beautiful angelic wings. This is why I titled the artwork “Zackaël nous berce dans ses ailes” which in French, sounds beautiful as “Zackaël” and “ailes” rhyme and is gentle-sounding. However, the translation doesn’t sound as well “Zackaël rocks us in his wings”. It was important for me to include “us” in the title, because we’re all in it (us five), and Zackaël rocks us with him.

“Zackaël’s wings illuminate your heart forever. Powerful, luminous and sparkling, his wings gently rock you ”.

Vé Boisvert, artist

More to come

Later this week, my mother will receive her canvas. Since she lives in Hearst, delivery takes a little longer. I know she can’t wait to receive it. Véro is currently creating my future 60 ”x 48” vertical canvas, for which I will also be able to chose between two options. This artwork that will measure almost double the other and will be installed above our fireplace, in the center of our house. I will be happy to write a post about my mother’s canvas and the one the Véro will create for my living room!

That’s it for now! I hope you enjoyed the reveal and that you’re looking forward for the other art reveals!

Please share your thoughts in the comments below. I appreciate them so much and your private messages!

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The Day Zackaël was Born

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I would like to thank everyone who sent messages, left me comments or did a commemorative gesture in honour Zackaël. Thank you to everyone who participated in the survey, the results are in! As this past week has been dedicated to my sweet Zackaël, I am happy to share about the day he was born.

During the afternoon of Tuesday February 25, 2014, I began having contractions while we were at Canadian Tire. I was 38.5 weeks pregnant and I was ready. I had been on preventive leave from work since Christmas. Having had Maxandre prematurely for no apparent reason, we wanted to prevent another premature baby. In the end, Zackaël was my only baby who was not premature. Maxandre was born at 33 weeks and Adélie at 34.5 weeks.

Here are some pregnant photos.

Obviously, that was my biggest belly, being my only one to term! By the late afternoon, my contractions started to get more frequent. Below are pictures of the day my contractions started (February 25).

We called Malcolm, Carl’s brother, so he could come babysit. We then went to the hospital. However, after an hour or two, I was told to return home because my labour was not advanced enough. I told them that I had my first baby suddenly, but they advised me to go home.

So we returned home around 10:30 pm. I’d had contractions all night. At around 5:40 am, I woke Carl up and told him we need to go to the hospital. I’ll always remember Carl replying “Are you sure?”. Of course I’m sure! He didn’t seem too eager to take me to the hospital! It was nothing like in the movies where the husband is all panicked driving to the hospital like a maniac!

We arrived at Montfort Hospital at 6am sharp, just as the hospital Tim Horton’s was opening. In the triage room, my water broke and they took me to the delivery room. From there, things moved so quickly, they never had time to give me an epidural. Despite how fast it went, the delivery was still difficult. At 7:25 am, my beautiful Zackaël was born.

Here is an excerpt from the eulogy I gave at Zackaël’s funeral about the first time I saw Zackaël:

“I will always remember the first time I held Zackaël in my arms, right after he was born. His tiny body was resting against mine on my left side, and I admired his perfect angelic face. I thought to myself how beautiful and peaceful he was, of indescribable comfort. From that moment, my little Zackaël has brought nothing but love and happiness to our lives. “

Zackaël was a beautiful baby from birth. He had a perfectly round face, lots of hair and beautiful full lips. He weighed 6 pounds and 8 ounces, an ideal weight. Since he a full term baby, I was able to fully enjoy the beautiful moments in my arms without too much worry.

Later that day, Malcolm brought Maxandre to the hospital to meet his little brother.

Here is a photo of Zackaël leaving the hospital with us. 🥰

Zackaël, 1 day old

That’s it for now! I hope you enjoyed all the Zackaël posts over the last week!

Please share your thoughts in the comments below. I appreciate them so much and your private messages!

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4 Years Ago; our 3 year-old Zackaël

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Before I start, I realized today that the Comment box wasn’t working on French posts. I apologize for this, it’s now fixed! Also, as you might have read in earlier posts, I first write my posts in French. Reading the “original version” is usually better when possible, so if you know French, I would suggest reading the French posts as they are probably more well-written.

I am continuing today to share beautiful moments we had with Zackaël. I go back 4 years, February 26, 2017, the day of his third birthday. In the morning, I had taken a video while he was having fun jumping and running on the sofa. It was his favorite activity. He could spend a ½ hour frolicking like this on the sofa.

In the video, I’m not sure why, but you might hear Maxandre in the background trying to convince Zackaël that it wasn’t his birthday. Maybe to tease him? We added captions to the video. He is so cute!

How I wish I could go back and be on the sofa with him so he could throw himself in my arms, or even jump on me. I used to take him in my arms and sing to him “en bateau, mamie mamie”; he loved it so much when I bounced him on my leg singing this song. I think he must have learned the song at daycare.

As he got older, he even improved his “sofa skills”. At 3 years old, we would see him running and jumping on the sofa. When he was 4, he started hopping even higher on the sofa. Sometimes we would come into the room and see him standing on his head on the couch. He would sit there on his head for minutes at a time, I don’t know how he did it. And at 5, he would use the couch to do all kinds of somersaults.

Zackaël has always been a little climber and a jumper. A natural gymnast. Watching him wasn’t always easy for me though, he would nearly give me heart attacks. I always had to watch him and tell him “be careful Zackaël!”. I was so scared he would fall when he did this, but luckily it never happened.

Thank you to everyone who will wear green tomorrow or make any commemorative gesture. I just brought tonight the big photo in front of her memorial tree to Le Prélude school. Don’t hesitate to hang a ribbon or light in the tree. If your child knew Zackaël and would like to take a picture with the big photo, there is no problem.


For tomorrow’s post, the choice is yours! I invite you to participate in the survey! Thank you for participating!

That’s it for now!
Please share your thoughts in the comments below. I appreciate them so much and your private messages!

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Happy Times Together

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Some of my best memories with the kids are of bringing Maxandre and Zackaël (and eventually Adélie) to museums.  Living in Ottawa, we’re fortunate to have so many good museums at our disposal, and I found it to be a great way to get out of the house and do something interesting and educational with the kids.  

I started bringing Maxandre to museums when he was young and when Zackaël was born, he would tag along with us.  As he got older, he started to become more interested in the displays.  Like most kids, the Dinosaur exhibits at the Museum of Nature were among his favourites, and when the Museum of Science and Technology re-opened in 2017 it quickly joined the ranks as one of our favourite destinations.  The Aviation Museum rounds out our top 3. 

Zackaël always brought enthusiasm and excitement to everything he did.  He never complained and was as happy-go-lucky as a kid could be.   I could have brought him to watch paint dry, and he still would have been happy if it meant he was spending time with us. His enthusiasm was contagious, and one of his favourite expressions when he was excited or impressed by something was to exclaim “WOW!” or “WHOA!”

Because of COVID, visiting museums hasn’t really been an option since Adélie got out of the hospital. Closed during lockdowns, the museums re-opened in September, and again last week, but we generally avoid non-essential visits to indoor places.  

Like so many other things since the accidents, I now have very mixed feelings about museums. There are so many places in this city that I love bringing the kids (Rideau Falls, the Parliament Buildings, the canal, the list goes on and on).  These places bring back so many memories of happy times together. However, these happy memories can’t be separated from the inescapable reality that doing activities together will now never be the same.  Often, just driving by places we enjoyed together can cause memories and mixed emotions to come rushing in. 

This doesn’t mean we won’t go back.  The accident took so many things from us, it would be counter-productive to allow it to rob us of doing the activities that Zackaël used to be a part of.  But it does mean that happy family outings will now be mixed together with some sadness, and a feeling that something is missing.  I hope at least that going back to these museums with Maxandre and Adélie will allow us to feel connected with Zackaël, and feel like he’s with us in some small way.   

That’s it for now!
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Remembering our Moments Together

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I dedicate this post in memory of my uncle Armand Lehoux

Today has been a difficult day for us. We received the coroner’s report about Zackaël’s death in the mail last Friday. This morning, Carl told me he had read the report earlier in the morning. He said it wasn’t a good idea and he found it difficult. I immediately started to cry. I hadn’t even looked at the report. I will read it another time when I feel ready.

This is one of those days when whatever the situation, emotions are coming out. I cried most of the day. People might think birthdays or special occasions are the hardest days. This is not necessarily the case.

Unfortunately, we have some tough days that appear without warning. Either way, we are trying our best to live normal lives and enjoy the beautiful times. But spontaneously, the pain suddenly resurfaces. And that’s normal. On that note, as I mentioned in a previous post, it’s better for our health to release our emotions than to hold them back.

Sharing our beautiful moments

This Friday February 26, Zackaël would have been 7 years old. In honor of Zackaël, every day this week, I will try to share a beautiful moment that I had with my little angel. There are moments that may seem trivial to you, but to me, they have a certain meaning.

Memory of the day

Zackaël was an observant little boy. He wasn’t the type to talk a lot, rather he liked to observe others. I always found him very visual.

It must have been only about 1 month before his death. One evening, before the kids went to bed, we were in Maxandre’s room. On the wall of the bedroom, we have a map of North America.

I asked Maxandre if he remembered where Hearst is located. Hearst is my hometown, a small town in northern Ontario. Maxandre could not remember, he took a guess and didn’t point at the right spot. But here is little Zackaël, who suddenly points his finger directly at Hearst on the big map. I was very surprised, I didn’t even remember that I had shown him. He was happy when I said “bravo Zackaël”.

I was surprised, but at the same time I was not. He was a very attentive boy.

This is a photo of Maxandre’s map, where you can see Hearst.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a photo of Zackaël pointing at the map. But I still have the memory of that moment, which will be forever etched in my mind.

💚 Zackaël, forever 5 years old 💚


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Writing your Grief Course – Today’s Prompt

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In yesterday’s post, I mentioned that I just started a course on grief. The course is called Writing Your Grief. Every day, we receive an email with a writing prompt encouraging us to explore an aspect of our grievance.

Today is Day # 3. I haven’t shared any of my posts with the public yet, but I’ve decided to share this one. Without getting into details, today’s prompt was about how do we live in a landscape that changed (I was living in the forest, now I live in the desert).

Here’s my story that makes an allusion to today’s prompt. For the ones who didn’t know Zackaël, I just want to mention that jumping was Zackaël’s favorite activity.

How do you live in a landscape so vastly changed?

We were living in a rainforest. Carl, Maxandre, Zackaël, Adélie, and I, even built a little cabin in the trees.

Every day, the richness of the forest made us discover life. The great diversity of plants and animals gave us completely different experiences. We were so well surrounded. We would wake up to the sound of birds and count the butterflies that came to us.

In the forest, the air was clean and fresh. After the rain, there was always sunshine. The alternation between rain and sun brought variety to our activities.

In the reflection of the raindrops on the leaves, we could even see our joy of living.

From tree to tree, we hooked up ropes and took turns bouncing. Our little Zackaël, skilled as always, would tumble in the air to swing with ease between the trees. Pure joy!

Maxandre and Zackaël would often grab their little sister with them and all three would spring forward.

Bright white, the beautiful big clouds allowed us to jump on them, high in the sky. What a joy! Our little athlete Zackaël always got so excited when he saw bouncy clouds. He would jump and show off his spins and turns, so effortless and gracefully.

The green of the trees, Zackael’s favorite color, was a rich green that went beyond nature.


However, on November 17, 2019, with no warning, we were shoved into the desert. We don’t really know how it happened. That day, we couldn’t see the forest anymore.

From that day, we knew we were in the desert.

At first, the wind was very strong, maybe even a sandstorm. The wind carried fine particles of sand and dust that entered our eyes. We had a really hard time seeing ahead.

After the storm, we gradually come to the realization that Zackaël is gone forever. He won’t come back. As much as he loved to jump up high in the sky, he has now reached heaven. The sky has no more clouds. Our Zackaël can no longer jump; his last jump was so high that he went to join the stars.

There’s no longer a cabin to protect us, we only have each other. We were five, but now, we are four. Only the four of us are stuck in that desert.

The rain in the forest has now turned to tears. The intense heat of the desert dries our tears as soon as they fall on our cheeks.

Devoid of vegetation and inhospitable, life is hard here; only a little cactus here and there. Be careful not to touch them, they are full of spikes.


Maxandre is lying on the sand. He is out of breath and looks at the sky trying to see his brother. But the sun is blinding and Maxandre looks elsewhere.

Maxandre’s gaze is turned therefore towards little Adélie. His little sister was injured by a 1,100 pounds beast. Despite her small size, Adélie is strong. She encourages us with her beautiful smile to continue the long course.

Carl and I try our best to ride our own camels. I am frail and have no energy, but I do everything possible to ride the camel. Two camels walking slowly but surely.

We try to bring up Maxandre on the camel that I am riding. Maxandre must hold on to me. We support each other.

On the other camel, Carl carries Adélie in his arms. Carl is already tired. It’s difficult to navigate with all this weight and only a free hand.

We don’t know where the camels will take us. We have been wandering into the unknown for ages. The days are alike. Every day, the heat is oppressive and heavy.

The humpbacks of the camels are indescribably uncomfortable. Several times a day, we imagined letting ourselves fall full on our stomachs in the sand, to let ourselves languish. But the sun is too strong and will scorch us. We don’t have that time.

We remain hopeful and try to keep our balance. Falls are dangerous and we have to hold on tight. The sand is deep and we have to be careful not to sink.

Every day, we travel for miles. The landscape is dry and always the same. There is no end to it.

Why are we alone in this great suffering? What did we do to end up here? When will we be removed from this desert to return and find our forest?

In the distance, we finally see a valley. Let’s go and get some rest. Maybe we will find an oasis?


That’s it for now!
Please share your thoughts in the comments below. I appreciate them so much and your private messages!

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5 Reasons to Remember our Loved Ones

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Before I begin, I would like to apologize to those of you who tried to open the emails with posts starting with “DAY 1” and “DAY 2”. I just began a course on grief and I thought I put the posts to “Private”. Oops! I’m also trying to figure out how to exclude them from the email notifications. Thank you for your patience!


February is Zackaël’s birthday month. We would have celebrated his 7th birthday on the 26th. Thus, for this week and the ones to come, I would like to share more about my beautiful Zackaël.

5 Reasons why it’s Important to Remember our Loved Ones

It is sometimes difficult to talk about a deceased person, especially a child. Throughout our grief journey, the more we can “tell the story” of the death itself and share our memories of the person who died, the more likely we will be to reconcile our grief.

Last November, we made several commemorative gestures in Zackaël’s honor. It’s important to continue commemorating his life throughout the year and the years to come. Here are a few reasons why :

  1. Suppressing emotions is bad for our health

    Talking about the deceased can provoke all kinds of emotions, some that we would like to avoid. On the other hand, we must remember that if these emotions exist, they must come out. So sometimes it’s better for them to come out today, rather than in a few months. Several studies have shown that suppressing emotions can have harmful effects on the human body.

“Suppressing your emotions, whether it’s anger, sadness, grief or frustration, can lead to physical stress on your body. The effect is the same, even if the core emotion differs. We know that it can affect blood pressure, memory and self-esteem. ”

Provisional Clinical Psychologist Victoria Tarratt.

2. Celebrating life allows us to heal

Continuing to talk about the deceased helps us in our grieving process.

“Grief experts agree that taking steps to appropriately remember loved ones is actually essential for healing. Individuals who keep the memory of loved ones alive almost always fare better emotionally than those who don’t.” source

3. Celebrating memories together

We must celebrate the life of the deceased by sharing the beautiful moments lived together. Imagine if tomorrow, an accident happens and you die suddenly? Yes, there will be funerals and other events in the near future. But would you like to be forgotten after 1 year? That we no longer talk about you? Time goes by, but the loss is always as big. Finally, nobody deserves to be forgotten.

Speaking and sharing our stories requires other people who are willing to listen to them. Celebrating the memories together will bring family and friends closer.

Zackaël Vigile Memorial
At the vigile


4. To support those who are grieving

As mentioned in #3 above, support from others is essential in commemorating a loved one. If a bereaved shares about their loved one, it’s important to listen and encourage them in their sharing. If pictures are shared and then no one comments, it’s disheartening because they will feel that other people don’t care about the deceased anymore.

The worst is to ignore that the deceased is no longer with us. If you want to support the family members who endured a great loss, be sure to include the deceased in the moments. This is a topic I will be covering on this blog at some point; the “how” to include the deceased.

5. His life is worth something

Zackaël is dead, he was only 5 ½ years old. Most people didn’t have a chance to get to know him. His life was taken from him altogether. His life, even if it was short, is worth something. I promise my Zackaël to always talk about him.


My next post will provide examples of commemorative gestures that anyone can make!


That’s it for now!
Please share your thoughts in the comments below. I appreciate them so much and your private messages!

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My sweet little angel

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Before I begin this week’s post, I would like to reveal the significant changes I made to the blog! Some of you might notice that the website looks different. The main reason is that I added a language switcher, rather than reading a long post with both languages. I had to install a plug-in and rework the website (I also improved the menu structure). So this is now officially a multilingual blog (yay!). Multilingual personal blogs are rare I think, so I’m happy to continue in both languages. After all, it’s good for the brain to practice two languages!

Please note that I write each post in French first, and then translate in English. As my first language is French, if you can read French, I suggest reading the posts in French as they are “better written” in my opinion. 🙂

All that to say, this change will bring a cleaner layout, and you as a reader can easily from English to French, and vice-versa. You will find the language switcher drop-down (EN-FR) at the top-right of the menu in green. In the main menu, you will also notice changes with the groupings of the pages.

Sorry to those of you who were trying to open the last email, it was an error that occurred during my redesign and it was the same post as last week (a duplicate). Thank you still for letting me know!


Another week with the kids at home, time flies! For everyone’s health, I sure hope that classroom-based school will start again soon. Keeping our fingers crossed. Yesterday, we received a message from school: once a week, the afternoon will be asynchronous, and without connectivity. The school says it is to help with the health and well-being of students and staff. It’s a good initiative!

I received some kind messages this week from Isabelle, someone I didn’t know. Isabelle told me that she and her husband Pascal often drive by the accident site on the 323 to get to their cottage. For those who haven’t read the post about the accident site, you can find it here.

Isabelle shared with me that she and her family were deeply moved by our story and they think of us and Zackaël a lot. Receiving this kind of message always touches me; it reminds us that Zackaël is always in our hearts, even for people who did not know him.

What touched me the most was when she told me that she and her husband often stopped to clear snow at the site. What a thoughtful gesture! Remember the definitions of empathy and compassion? Well, this gesture is a great testament to that. They are empathetic people because they are wholeheartedly with us, and saw that it was important for us to keep the monument and photo visible. They are also very compassionate because it is a helping gesture that no one has asked them to do. Isabelle and Pascal, you have a big heart, and I thank you very much for what you do!

Zackaël’s roadside memorial during the Holidays
Before Pascal et Isabelle remove the snow
Pascal removing the show
Almost cleared up – Zackaël’s monument on the 323

Pascal et Isabelle removing the snow
Zackaël’s monument
Many people stopped and added decorations during the Holidays

Zackaël’s roadside memorial at night


I would also like to thank everyone who has taken the time to stop at the monument, some of you even added a little something. Thank you Marielle & Raynald, and Tim & Amélie for the pictures. Since I’m not able to visit the monument because of its location, it means a lot when I receive new pictures. I’m able to see if little items were added, which always warms my heart.

As Zackaël favourite colour was green, don’t hesitate to add a little green something (like a green light or ribbon) if you’re ever on the 323 and decide to stop.

My aunt at Zackaël’s roadside memorial
My aunt and uncle Marielle & Raynald often take the time to stop


I would love to share about Zackaël more often and his photos on this blog, but it’s not easy. As some of you know, I am often caught in a battle of emotions.

For today, I’m going to share a poem I wrote last spring. The original language of the poem is French. I quickly did a translation to English. I have to admit that the English version isn’t very good as the flow and rhymes disappear in the translation. If you know French, please read the French version instead.

Ce n’était pas assez (It was not enough)
Click here for original version

Poem in honor of Zackaël
My lapin d’amour (my honey bunny),
the most beautiful human I have ever known,
in my heart forever

It was not enough
That we did everything to make you happy
They still took you from us
Without telling you goodbye

It was not enough
That you always made us smile
They still took away
The chance to see you grow up

It was not enough
That you were the most patient
They still took from us
All our future moments

It was not enough
That you were good to her
They still took away
Her big brother Zackaël

It was not enough
That you were the best brother
They still took you
From their little world

It was not enough
To be an model student
They still took you
From your little classmates

It was not enough
That you were a best friend
They still took you
From your friend Alexi

It was not enough
That you were the sweetest boy
They still took you
To be with them in heaven

It was not enough
That you were our little sunshine
They took you anyway
The cruelest separation

It was not enough
That you are my beautiful “lapin”
They took you anyway
An endless November day

It was not enough
That everyone loved you
They still took you
We’ll never see you again

It was not enough
To be my beloved son
They still took you
Why did nothing protect you?

It was not enough
That you had a heart bigger than your body
They still took you
I hope there’s life is after death

My beautiful Zackaël
My heavenly angel
My love is unconditional
I send you a sweet kiss
Don’t worry, you will never be forgotten

Maman xox

Zackaël Flintoff, August 2019

Goodbye 2020

Pour la version française de cette publication, cliquez ici.


Goodbye 2020

2020 hasn’t been an easy year for many. For most people, 2020 represents the pandemic, loneliness and restraint. For us (Carl, Maxandre, Adélie and I), 2020 represents the first year without our little Zackaël. We have no memory with Zackaël in 2020.

In 2020, it was only in my dreams that I could see my Zackaël doing new things. I dream of him almost every other night. Last night, I dreamed that he was on a school bus, happy as always. In the dream, I knew he was gone, but I had the opportunity to go and see him anyway. I had to go through the small window of the bus to reach him.

Dreams are a topic that I will cover in more depth at some point in this blog. I don’t dream of him during the day. When I think of him, they are not dreams, but memories.

On December 24, I was preparing little treats for the kids’ stockings. My heart really ached when I realized Zackaël’s will be left empty (no treats). I started to cry. I then decided to write him a little note to put it in his stocking. It is gestures like this that I must do to go on, to help cope with my sorrow. Each year, I will insert a little note for my little angel.

My little note to Zackaël “I love you Zackaël. I think of you. Christmas 2020 – Maman xox”

In November, I was shopping for clothes so that we could all wear green for Christmas. Green being Zackaël’s favorite color, I wanted our family photo to reflect that Zackaël is among us. It wasn’t easy to find, but after a few hours of searching online, I had found some nice green outfits for all of us. For Maxandre, I even ordered two shirts, one for this year and a bigger one (the same) for future years!

Zackaël will always be with us (Shutterfly ornament)


For Adélie, the green and black dress (see below) was given to us by friend from Zackaël’s class, a dress that belonged to little Lillian. Thank you Shauna (Lillian’s mom) for this beautiful green dress!

We wish you all health and happiness for 2021.
May 2021 be a better year for everyone!

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Gone but never forgotten

Pour la version française, cliquez ici.


Gone but never forgotten

Since Zackael’s death, Carl and I have been particularly touched when we hear other tragic stories, especially when we hear about other children dying too young. We, unfortunately, understand the pain and emptiness those bereaved parents feel all too well.

December 13 was Worldwide Candle Lighting Day in memory of the children who left us too early. It is believed to be the largest mass candle lighting on the globe. At 7 pm, people all around the world lit candles for the children gone too soon. I personally lit a green candle in honor of my Zackaël. The other candle, I lit it for all the other children who have left us. I thought of little Laurence, daughter of my cousin Sophie, and sweet Genevieve, Carl’s cousin.

Chandelles allumées le 13 décembre


I will always have in my heart all the children who are no longer with us, as well as their parents. Some parents have lost 2 or 3 children in a road accident, it is so cruel and unfair. They are the strongest parents I know.

I think of Clare McBride who lost her two daughters in an accident, caused by a drunk driver who didn’t do his stop. Here is a picture of little Oksana (6 years old) and Quinn (4 years old).

I didn’t know that Clare also has her own blog. Clare just shared it with me, I recommend you read it. Here is an excerpt of a poignant letter she wrote to the driver. It begins with:

“Dear Joe *, On August 16th 2019 you killed both of my children, Lucy *, 6, and Betty *, 4.”

Here is the link for the full version.

It is important to keep talking about our children, even though they are physically no longer here. Often, friends and relatives mistakenly believe that it is best to avoid mentioning the deceased child in the presence of the bereaved parent. They believe that if they talk about them, it may bring grief to the parent. It is quite the opposite. Most bereaved parents want people to keep talking about their child who left us too soon. In fact, the worst thing to do is ignore that they existed, and ignore their grief and loss. This can actually cause the grieving parent more pain.

I will always continue to talk about Zackaël. Most people didn’t have a chance to get to know Zackaël, but I can make him known to others. Today, I am sharing a story about him, and I will continue to share some from time to time.

Zackaël’s School Photos

In October 2019, a few weeks before the accident, we received some proofs of Zackaël’s school pictures. Looking at the pictures, I quickly said to Zackaël something like, “You look cute, but you’re laughing a little too much, we can’t see your beautiful eyes. Maybe for the next photo… you could smile just a little less”. This whole conversation was very quick, as it probably was interrupted.

Zackaël, end of September 2019 – Credit: Photomania (photomania.ca)

A few weeks later, on October 23, I picked up the kids from school after work. Zackaël immediately told me that there was a re-shoot that day and assured me that he hadn’t smiled too much. I told Zackaël that I didn’t know the re-takes were that day, I was a little disappointed because I would have dressed him better. He was wearing heavily used jogging pants and a Star Wars t-shirt. I also asked him if his smile was smaller than the last time. He said “yes”. It surprised me that he remembered because I had only told him once and it had been about twenty days since that conversation.

Fast-forward to the beginning of November, I received the new proofs of Zackaël’s photos. These photos made me laugh so much. Zackaël had really paid attention to what I had told him at the beginning of October, but maybe a little too much! He had remembered not to smile too much in the next few photos … so here is the result below! The photos are so different, it’s so funny when we compare them to each other!

Zackaël, October 23 2019 – Credit: Photomania (photomania.ca)

Zackaël was always a good listener. When you told him something, he paid attention and remembered. He was very observant. Even though these photos didn’t showcase his beautiful smile that would highlight his beautiful eyes, I still love these two photos. They demonstrate how cute he was, whether he was grinning from ear to ear, or looking very serious. They demonstrate how attentive he was when I spoke to him. And above all, these photos represent a memory that I hold dear in my heart, only a few weeks before he left us. I love you Zackaël.

That’s it for now! I hope you’ve enjoyed the memory I shared about Zackaël.
Please share your thoughts in the comments below. I appreciate them so much! Feel free to leave messages to the other bereaved parents too.

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Zackaël’s Roadside Memorial on the 323

Pour la version française, cliquez ici.


Zackaël’s Roadside Memorial on the 323

“Memorials tell the story of lives taken too soon. They are personal statements bearing witness to a life lost and they act as a memento to others both to offer a moment of quiet reflection on the significance of the fragility of a person’s life, and as a heeded warning of dangers we have become too complacent in noticing.

Roadside memorials are folk art created out of love and grief. Unfettered by regulations or cost, they are creative acts, restorative acts in the face of destruction. They allow the remembrance to be matched with the death; the death happened in public, the memorial needs to be public, in the very venue that is so intimately connected with the deceased, the place where he died. And since the death was sudden, unexpected, and maybe senseless but not unique, roadside memorials let people know that a particular person, an individual, was alive. They say, we will not let you die unnoticed, you are valuable, you deserve to be remembered. And they invite the world to join in.”

A quote Brigitte found from http://www.debate.org

After looking online for examples of memorials, Brigitte came up with a design to honour Zackaël at the site of the accident. Our good friends Aris and Andrew generously offered to help us with the coordination and installation of the memorial. Brigitte forwarded the design to Aris who took the lead and coordinated with her friend Chris, whose company Ercon Welding was able to create a metal structure that would be solid enough for the side of Highway 323.

On Saturday November 7th, after picking up the structure from Ercon, Andrew and I drove to the site. I had found the accident site on Google maps with information from the accident report. When I got there, the surroundings looked unfortunately familiar. In case there were any doubts that we were indeed at the right spot, in the ditch I found the plastic shell of one of the rear view mirrors and a piece of the roof rack from our van.

Two more friends, Tony and Mike, met us at the site to help with the installation. This was no minor undertaking as the iron monument was very heavy and even had rebar at the bottom of the legs to allow it to be poured into concrete, keeping it stable. Andrew’s engineering skills and general know-how came in very handy. A huge thank you to Aris and Andrew for helping us with the creation of the structure and to our friends for the installation.

This was my first time back at the accident site and it was great to have the support of my friends. We are very happy on how it turned out. Brigitte did an amazing job with the design and planning of everything, including little details like solar lights, lanterns and glow-in-the-dark pebble rocks so the structure will be visible at night. It really all came together very nicely. She also had a large printed photo of Zackaël, with a different photo on each side (see pictures below).

If you ever drive on the 323 and have time to stop and/or take a photo, especially at night, please let us know. We would love to hear your comments. Click on this link for the exact location of the memorial. Please note that it is eastbound, so it will be on your right if you’re going towards Tremblant. (If you stop and see any snow on the solar lights, we would appreciate if it could be removed so the light can absorb the sunlight.)

Green Glow in the Dark Rocks are underneath the years.
This is the view from the back of the structure (westbound).

Hockey and community support – Le soutien à travers le hockey

 

English follows…

Premièrement, j’aimerais vous remercier pour vos messages suite à ma publication précédente. Justement, parlant de cette publication, j’ai mentionné que je me suis souvent sentie seule suite à l’accident, malgré que j’étais entourée de gens remarquables. Il ne faut pas confondre ce commentaire de ma part en pensant que je n’appréciais pas l’entraide de mes proches et de la communauté, au contraire. En fait, sans l’aide des gens autour de moi, je ne sais pas si j’aurais réussi à « survivre ». J’étais tellement anéantie que je réussissais à peine à fonctionner. Comme vous le savez, en temps d’événements tristes, il est important de s’entraider et c’est ce que beaucoup d’entre vous ont fait, et pour ceci je vous remercie infiniment.

Ceci dit, j’aimerais partager quelques photos qui prouvent à quel point une communauté puisse être là pour aider les autres en moments difficiles. Suite au décès de Zackaël, l’association de hockey mineur de Blackburn Hamlet (BMHA Stingers) a débuté le port de lacets verts. Grâce à cette association, vous avez été par la suite nombreux à porter du vert dans vos équipes de hockey! Zackaël adorait jouer au hockey.

Sachez que ces gestes n’ont pas restés inaperçus. Quand je voyais une photo comme une de celles ci-bas, ça me faisait chaud au cœur. Je me rappelle très bien de certains moments durant lesquels je regardais ma fille encore dans le coma, je me sentais totalement abolie par le deuil pour la perte de Zackaël ainsi que l’impuissance envers la condition d’Adélie. On n’a pas la tête et l’énergie pour rien faire… donc on est assis et on espère le mieux dans un cauchemar qui perdure. Durant ces moments, en voyant vos photos de vos équipes de hockey sur mon cellulaire, ça me permettait de sortir de ce cauchemar pour quelques minutes. C’était non seulement une belle distraction, mais un geste de leur solidarité remarquable. Vous démontriez votre appui et soutien envers notre famille « une famille de hockey » comme beaucoup ont dit. Vous avez été généreux et avez démontré que vous pensiez à nous. Je vous remercie de tout cœur pour tous ces gestes, et non seulement ceux de hockey car il y a eu bien d’autres aussi. Une maman m’a dit récemment que son fils voulait garder ses lacets verts pour Zackaël pour ne pas l’oublier, j’ai trouvé cela très touchant. Tous ces gestes de la dernière année nous ont permis à nous sentir moins seuls. Quelle belle communauté!

Je joins les photos de vos équipes d’hockey. Désolée si j’ai oublié de publier la vôtre, envoyez-moi la et je la rajouterai!!

 

Merci à ma cousine Julie ainsi qu’aux Puckhounds de Temiskaming Shores d’avoir porté du vert en l’honneur de Zackaël!

 

 

Thank you Gloucester CumberlandGirls hockey teams for your support by taping your sticks in green!

 

 

Merci à Constance Turpin, les Ice Dogs de Casselman – Embrun, ainsi que les Metcalfe Jets d’avoir porté du ruban et des lacets verts!

 

 

 

Thank you Nichole and your boys for wearing green laces and supporting our family

 

 

 

Maxandre de retour sur la glace après la perte de son frère, quel courage!
Maxandre back on the ice after the loss of his brother, so brave!
Breakaway!

 

Before I begin, I would like to thank you for all of the messages in regards to my previous post. In that post, I mentioned that I often felt lonely following the accident, despite being surrounded by remarkable people. This comment on my part should not be confused with thinking that I did not appreciate the help from my loved ones and the community, on the contrary. In fact, without the help of the people around me, I don’t know if I would have been able to “survive”. I was so devastated that I could barely function. As you know, in times of sad events, it is important to help each other and that is what so many of you have done, and for this I thank you very much.

Further to that, I would like to share a few photos that demonstrate how much a community can be there and come together to help others in difficult times. Following Zackaël’s death, the Blackburn Minor Hockey Association (BMHA) began wearing green laces. Thanks to the BMHA, many of you decided to wear some green on your hockey teams! Zackaël loved hockey.

Please know that these gestures did not go unnoticed. When I saw photos like the ones above, it warmed my heart. I vividly remember certain moments while my daughter still in a coma, feeling totally overwhelmed by mourning for the loss of Zackaël as well as helplessness towards Adélie’s condition. I didn’t have the will or the energy to do anything… all we could do was sit and hope for the best during a never-ending nightmare. During those moments, seeing the photos of your hockey teams on my cell, it allowed me to get out of this nightmare for a few minutes. It was not only a nice distraction, but a gesture of your remarkable support and solidarity. The hockey community was showing its support for a member of the “hockey family”. You have been generous and have shown that you are thinking of us. We thank you wholeheartedly for these gestures, and not just those from the hockey community because there were many others as well. Recently, a mom told me that her All these gestures have made us feel less alone. Wow what a great community!

I have attached photos of your hockey teams. Sorry if I forgot to post yours, send it to me and I’ll add it !!