One Sister's Love - A Christmas Story from Hannah to Zach

Imagine this: the week before Christmas, and the whole house was anticipating another hectic couple of days with all five of us together again. My brother, Josh came down from NAU earlier in that month to spend the holidays with us. Zach, would come down on the 23rd of December,   but ended up deciding to come down the next day. We all decided to go to Avatar the night of the 23rd my mom, dad, and Josh. Sometime towards the end of the movie my dad got a call and left the theater. This is what changed everything.

            My brother Zach at 21 years old was murdered that night. We found out in an elevator at the movie theater. We didn’t know how or why he was killed, or who did it until the next day. Before I get to that, let’s go back to about the age of 15 for Zach. When I was nine, my brother started using pot. Simply because he was bored, or wanted to be more accepted, I don’t know. My parents knew it was going on, but really didn’t know what to do, so they threatened him. He didn’t listen, of course, he was a teenager. The drug use increased to multiple drugs including heroine.

By the age of 17 he was in rehab in Indianapolis. He was there for 6 months, and we tried to visit him every Sunday, sometimes my parents would go down more often. You can guess how hard this was, there were lots of tears involved.  And I, only a little girl, was very scared for my brother. I didn’t really know much about what was going on, because my parents kept it from me. In elementary school, they didn’t talk much about drugs, that lecture and PowerPoint was always saved for Middle School. So aside from not knowing what really happened or what he was doing that was so bad, I knew that whatever he was doing in rehab was getting my big brother back.

My fondest memories of Zach are when he ‘rescued’ me. It always seemed like he was right around the corner, ready to pick me up and dust me off. He was the one that pulled my other brother off of me when I was being that annoying baby sister and he felt the need to tackle me. Zach wouldn’t go over to his best friend’s house to play basketball or video games across the street at times, because my parents asked him to watch me. His friends were confused, but understanding to his kindness to be the big brother everyone wanted. He was popular, smart, and handsome. I remember looking up to him and wanting to be just like him. That’s why we don’t understand why he did what he did.

By the time he was out of rehab, he was clean and sober again. He went to a Christian high school and was clean for 2 years. Then he fell into relapse. I don’t know how or when it happened, because I was so sheltered. A couple of years later we moved to Arizona, he followed us a couple of months later because he really did miss us. He had always been a family man. In Arizona there were more ways to get drugs easily. This being an issue, you know that we were all worried for the outcome of him being in Arizona. About a year after we moved to Arizona my anger against Zach and what he became grew. I began to ignore him when he would come home and visit. I was getting older and a little frustrated with his immature things that he still continued to do.

He often came around the house. Every once in a while he would live with us for a month or so. He continued to hop around the valley in new homes and apartments with roommates. There were always issues with him, because he would surround himself with the wrong people. We always welcomed back with open arms, no matter how much we wanted to have the discussion with him that sparked fights.

Zach would always have those brief moments of times when he would go clean; I think he truly wanted to be clean and sober. But temptations and peer pressure was always too strong. The man that killed my big bubba should not have because I believe that Zach would have grown to be stronger than the addictions eventually. He would have found a wonderful girl, and had a family. That was all he ever wanted, to be a daddy and have a family. Now I’ll never see his wedding, his first baby, or him. Why should one man’s selfishness destroy another man’s variety of people that he touched?

That same man shattered my family on that night at the movie theater. We arrived home and were surrounded by ministers and friends. We stayed up talking until very late in the night, and were told to get some sleep. I can assure you, sleep was impossible for my whole family. That Christmas was not spent as a normal Christmas should be spent; those couple of days went by in a blur as we tried to get through them.

When I think of Zach I see him streaming through absolutely everything. Through hundreds of people’s lives all throughout the country. Everybody loved Zach and his kindness, in Indiana, Arizona, California, Ohio, and New Hampshire. He always has, and always will be in many people’s hearts.

I want to tell people my story of my brother because I want people to know that even though people have addictions, pressure, and temptations in them. They are still good people if they’ve always had it in their hearts. Zach was a good example of this, because he was a strong Christian boy, great kid, kind to all, and just a good person. But he was always weak at some point, as we all are. His weakness was fighting pressure around him, like addiction. Unfortunately.

Those kids out there that are still doing drugs don’t have to be. There are tons of ways to stop all of it, and become a better person. There are people out there that will take you just for you, they don’t need you to ‘fit in’ and do drugs. When people do drugs, I can assure you that the majority of them think, ‘well, I’m not hurting anyone, so why does it matter that I do them?’ But what they don’t realize is that it affects every single person that they come across in their lives. Most importantly, it affects your immediate family because you grew up with them surrounding you with love. But you repaid them by doing horrible things to this wonderful thing God gave you called your body.

Some kids do drugs because their parents were never around and couldn’t care less what the kid did. That’s painful enough as it is, every child needs parents to love and care for them. Even though they may think drugs are the only way out, it’s not. This is so, because there are always people out there who will stand by you and help you through the tough times.

Doing drugs helps absolutely nothing. Wouldn’t one rather grow to be strong and independent? Rather than weak, and dependent – on drugs. Who says that you HAVE to do drugs? Who says that if you don’t do them, you won’t be cool? There are millions of ‘cool’ people that are clean. They have fun partying, at normal parties. Their idea of letting go, and getting relaxed is anything normal. For instance, reading a book, going for a run, taking a nap, ect.

There are ways out. You are never alone and if you are desperate for a way out, there are always people around to help out and get you out of the ten foot hole you feel like you’re stuck in.

My brother is now free from the temptations that dwell on this Earth, he is free from pain, and just free.


I love you Zach, here is proof that good things can come out of bad things.