I remember it like it was yesterday. All the surroundings are still so fresh in my mind. It was October of 2002. I was home from college for the weekend. Daniel and I had been dating for almost two months. Daniel was spending some time in Sumner County Jail (that is a story for another time) for some child support issues. I so looked forward to my bi weekly phone calls from him.
The phone call I got on this Sunday morning was not what I expected. The phone call I am talking about was not from Daniel. It was from his friend Brian. The words he said to me will forever ring in my ears. He informed me that Zach, Daniel's little brother, had been in a car wreck and passed away. I was blown away. At first, what he was saying to me did not even register. I suppose that is normal. I heard what he said but I did not comprehend it. My first question was, "How is Daniel?" He told me that Daniel knew and that they were working on getting him a furlow so he could be with his family. How did he survive hearing that news knowing that there was nothing he could do. He could not be with his family. He could not hug his mother and sister. He could not have a normal grieving process. I was so devastated for him, for the family. I immediately wanted to wrap my arms around him. But I couldn't. I couldn't even speak to him.
It was hours after initially hearing the news that I finally heard from Daniel. And when he did call my stomach sank. I had no idea what to say to him. I was surprised by his calmness. He was broken inside but kept it together as we talked. It was a Sunday so, finding a judge that would approve a furlow was hard to do. But God made it happened. He got a two week furlow so he could attend the funeral and mourn the loss of his brother. That was a very hard two weeks for all of us.
The last six and a half years have been equally as hard. I know for myself, there is not a day that goes by that I do not think of Zach. I would love to see his sweet smile and hear his laugh. I know that he is humoring the heavens every day!
So, since the death of his sweet brother, Daniel has been trying to decide on a tattoo in memory of Zach. He has teetered back and forth between several different options. He made his mind up a few years ago. However, there have been several issues that have stood between him and the permanent ink that could be defined as closure for his grieving process, i.e...money, timing, etc.
Daniel called me on Friday and said I am getting my tattoo tonight. This was a shock to me as we have not talked about it in a while. But he braved the nerves and sat through nearly an hour of pain to tribute the loss of his brother. He sent me texts through the adventure explaining how it hurt so bad and he couldn't breathe. He described how the best part was when he let off for a second before starting back.
So, the first part of his tattoo is finished. NO MORE PAIN. Zach no longer has to endure pain or hardships or struggles. He is without trials and tribulations. He is at peace. He is at the right hand of our Savior. He is resting. His family and friends miss him dearly. And his brother still has more "pain" to sit through to finish his memorial. He will add angel wings and JZO (Zach's initials) to the already present NO MORE PAIN ink. He is very stoked about finishing his tattoo, even though it was excrutiating for him to sit through.
In Memory of John Zachary O'Neil
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