The Legacy of Zachary LaBonte
The legacy that Zachary leaves behind is 16 years of wonderful memories for his family and friends to treasure:
We welcomed a healthy baby born at 10 lbs, 2 oz. whose personality quickly earned him the name "Sunshine". We were so pleased that our firstborn, Nicholas, would have a little brother to grow up with and we remember how much Zack's birth made us feel like a family. He was a happy little blond-haired guy with a sweet natured spirit who loved matchbox cars, playdough, coloring, and being outside. To anyone who has ever loved a little boy and known their sweet charms, their wild gutsiness, and their innocent honesty, then you will know how blessed and honored we feel to have been chosen as the parents of Zachary. To have given birth to, nurtured, and raised this child will always remain one of the richest blessings and greatest privileges of our lives. Zack was eager and curious and our home never had any dull moments! Although we were only very imperfect parents trying our best, we were blessed to have been on the receiving end of so many sticky kisses, warm hugs, and "I love you" notes. We are warmed by the beauty of his childhood and will forever remember that big smile that was always on his sweet little face!
As Zachary got older and left the preschool years behind him, he enjoyed a simple childhood in the country, loved playing with his brothers in the woods, enjoyed riding bikes and rollarblading and sometimes got in trouble for teasing his little sisters. He was a bit of a daredevil and very much a clown! His silly antics earned him a new name - "Wacky Zacky"! He also loved Legos! Legos! Legos! Zachary was homeschooled and quickly became an excellent speller, enjoyed reading, and had the prettiest handwriting a little boy ever had! Zachary got so excited when we ordered pizza or stopped at Burger King. He looked forward to his birthday each year and happily anticipated homemade sugar cookies and candy each year at Christmas! Zack loved video games and movies. He made us laugh by signing his name with an exclamation point and truly just enjoyed life.
Once Zachary reached his teenage years, he seemed content to let others be the center of attention. He became more thoughtful, more sensitive to others, and really spent time developing his drawing skills. We were so proud and amazed at his sketches. He signed his artwork with his middle name, "Lee". He loved to carry our foster babies and could always coax smiles from the little children we had in our home. Zachary had the amazing ability to watch and listen and then surprise you at Christmas with the exact movie or CD that you had been wanting! When playing in the woods he loved so much, he used to bring us old bottles and chunks of broken pottery because he knew how much we love old treasures. Zack grilled our hamburgers every Saturday night and often made desserts for us all to enjoy. He was a great help with all of the weeding and mowing and enjoyed washing our cars. That boy was always looking for a way to make a buck! Zachary enjoyed playing the piano, reading, and writing stories. It seemed that he had a real creative artistic eye for all the things he did. He liked Star Wars, the Narnia series, and playing paintball in the woods. And still sometimes got in trouble for teasing his sisters! Zachary said that he wanted to either be an artist or a pilot when he grew up, and definitely wanted to make a lot of money!
Zachary was saved when he was 5, baptized when he was 11, and an active member of our church. He read through his entire Bible when he was 14 and really tried to do what was right. He had memorized lots of Bible verses, including the chapters of I Corinthians 13 and Luke 2. Zack enjoyed helping at church with the overhead projector that displayed the songs and sermon notes. He was also learning to run the audio equipment. At church, Zachary was usually willing to help out anyone that asked for his time. After Zack died, we found some great Christian music on his Ipod and know that his heart was full of love for Christ. He had a desire to please God. We know that he is in Heaven now with Jesus, using his talents and gifts in a brand new way.
For those who know Zack's story and for those learning it now, Zachary took his own life on the first sunny day of spring, just as the daffodils in our yard were beginning to bloom. How metiphorical... We have no clue as to why such a great and talented kid would chose to end his own life and we have struggled with much agony, confusion, and regret. We will always wish to turn back time, will always struggle with guilt, and more importantly, will always long to have known about Zachary's pain. Our only real comfort is that he is joyfully in Heaven with Jesus now and free from whatever pain and suffering he knew. We imagine God lovingly putting his arm around Zack's shoulder in Heaven and sitting down with him as He explained all that was so very confusing. We know Zack would take back his decision in a second if only he could. He knows nothing but truth now. We choose to focus on Zachary's life and not on the way he died. We will see him again and what a beautiful reunion that will be!
Next to the happy memories, there will always be a very sad place in our hearts, an empty chair at the table, an empty stocking at Christmas. We will continue our journey through this life and think of him so very many times, wishing that he was still here with us. Even if we had known that Zachary's life would end in such a tragic way and that his death would bring such daily sadness, we still wouldn't have traded one day of the last 16 years. We loved him, were so proud of him, and were looking forward to seeing his impact on the world. It is only because of God's grace and goodness that we can somehow move forward and anticipate being together for all of Eternity.
We will always treasure the times Zack made us laugh, the gifts he chose for us on special occasions, the drawings he so thoughtfully sketched, and the funny phrases he would repeat. We think of him so many times a day as the rooms of our home stir up reminders of the boy who lived here.
We remember a beautiful boy who was quickly becoming a man, a boy who had so many wonderful qualities to offer the world, a boy so normal and yet so altogether extraordinary. We remember Zachary.
"Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever." Psalm 107:1