SoCal, early morning — Gulls carve white shapes in an expanse of blue. In the distance, I can make out the silhouettes of seal and sea lions. Oh how they love an early wakeup call. I listen as the waves crawl up on the shore of your favorite beach, and I swear I can hear the laughter in your voice as you call to me.

“Yo, woman, watch this!”

It was what you said instead of “Mom,” so that only I would turn around in a crowded room. You were always clever like that.

But as I dare to look out at the Pacific, the irrational part of me half-hoping to see you on your paddleboard, I am met with the weight of nothing. Of no one. You’re not there. Your absence is an anchor, always threatening to pull me to my knees.

I glance at my watch to check my steps, and the numbers steal my breath away. 1997.

The year you were born.

You would have been 25 by now. Graduated from UCO. Married, maybe. A father, maybe. But I know one thing for certain, Zachary: you would have been happy. You simply knew no other way to be. That was your magic.

Every nerve in my body tells me to fall to my knees. To shove my head in the sand and let the tide wash me under. Where it’s quiet and where I don’t have to feel anymore. Because sometimes feeling is the hardest part of it all—losing someone who lit up your world.

Suddenly, I feel something else. I feel your presence. As my fingers close around the precious diamond made of you, I take a moment to reflect on all the wonderful things you taught me.

✨Enjoy life to its fullest

You squeezed every ounce of joy out of life and painted with the brightest colors, didn’t you? You appreciated the little things: like traveling with family, hanging out with your friends, and of course, being at the beach.


At your memorial service, your sister told me about how, on a flight home for Thanksgiving, you were hamming it up and snapchatting with the elderly lady next to you. You always knew how to make people smile, Zachary. It was impossible not to have a good time with you.

✨Love endlessly

From little on, you loved everyone regardless of age, race, or background. I remember once when we were at the airport, and I started to panic when I couldn’t find you. Ten seconds later, you came whizzing past on one of those airport carts as the driver held you on his lap. You two were having the best time!

This is what happens when the grief gets too heavy. I hold on to your diamond and, as though summoned, you are here to lift me up. As I reflect on all the life lessons you taught me, I don’t fall. Instead, I keep walking and watch the numbers tick upward. 1998. 1999. 2000.

I drink in a deep breath of salt-infused air. Exhale. The horizon glows golden with the promise of a rising sun, and as the world begins to warm, I swear I’m wrapped up in one of your legendary hugs (God I miss those!).

I want to thank you, Zachary, for not only giving me the gift of being your mother, but for the gift of your diamond that I wear every day. It’s blue, like your eyes, and thalassic—an homage to the ocean where you loved to swim and paddleboard. The pendant, itself, is even inscribed with your initials. The team at Eterneva @eterneva did an incredible job of creating something that was uniquely you.

Loss leads us down a lonely road. It’s hard and so tortuous at times that moving forward seems an impossible task. But with your diamond close to my heart, I know that I will never walk alone.

I’ll love you forever, and like you for always,

♥ Yo Woman