My mission as Zack’s mom was to make sure that Elmo (Kevin) knew how important he was to our Zack and to the everyday existance in our house. My promise to Zack, was to have Elmo SAY his name. In fact, we were in the process of filling out papers for “Make a Wish” and the wish was for Zack to be IN an Elmo’s World episode! Nothing seemed impossible to me, because of Zack’s ability to show us miracles everyday. After Zack died, this goal seemed even more important and I refused to give up.
Back in May, when I first learned about the “Being Elmo” film, I thought that this might actually be the way that I could meet Kevin and keep my promises to Zack. I posted a note on the “Being Elmo” Facebook page, explaining how important Elmo had been to Zack and that even in his death, we had used his favourite red character to both honour him and remember him in our family. I got an email from Constance Marks, the director, within a day. Her lovely email said;
Dear Heather, Your story is so touching and I send you a big heartfelt hug. I will reach out to Kevin. Are you videotaping all that is going on with the new room? Has it been built yet?Please send me the CBC story online and I will forward it to Kevin.Stay in touch, ok? All best, Connie
From that first interaction, I was blown away by the way in which she wanted to help in any way possible. I couldn’t believe that she would pass along our story to Kevin.
The journey to Elmo began.
One day during the summer, I was having a horribly sad time missing Zack. I was crying all day and feeling very alone. My phone rang and it was the VP of Communications, Ellen, at Sesame Workshop in New York. She told me that Kevin had come in her office to ask her to reach out to us to support Zack’s Dream Room. She offered to contact the Elmo furniture manufacturer and get tables, bookcases or other items to decorate the room. I got off that call sobbing, overwhelmed that not only did Elmo (Kevin) KNOW who Zackie was, but that in all the stories Kevin must hear each day, ours touched his heart. I knew that Zackie was with me that day- just when I needed him- and in a strange way, he had sent Elmo to me for comfort, just as Elmo had comforted him so many times. Even now, on the days when I am missing Zackie the most, I see Elmo in an unusual or unexpected way or I get an email from these amazing new friends and I smile knowing that Zack sent that sign to me.When I saw that “Being Elmo” might be coming to Toronto, I emailed Connie again and asked how I could help make this happen. I wanted to hold an event, not only to raise money but to celebrate Zack’s life, with his favourite red friend. She put me in touch with her wonderful contact in Toronto and the planning began. Sending several emails back and forth, the Bloor Cinema decided to generously host an exclusive screening as a fundraiser for Zack’s Dream Room. While Connie will not be able to attend that day, she will be in town on Friday night for the first show. She and I have plans to meet and watch the film together. There is no other way, I would want to experience that moment, than with the woman who helped make this happen. She and I are both excited to meet and she even asked if I could take her to the hospital room. I feel so blessed to have this opportunity to thank her in person for all that she has done.
I’ve tried to work my magic to get Kevin to attend or Skype in during our event, but his busy schedule does not allow for it. Instead, I was asked to send a script to Kevin, so that he could make an Elmo message for the future patients of Zack’s Dream Room. I just received the personal Elmo video last night and through all my tears of happiness, sadness, excitement and grief, I know that at last my promises have been fulfilled. Not only has Kevin taken the time from his busy schedule to film this piece, he has also created a moment in time where Elmo and Zack have come together. He even sings the song we always sang to Zack to comfort him and make him laugh. Having Elmo sing “Zackie’s World” is truly a dream come true. I’m so thrilled to be able to share that video with you before our special screening on March 18th.
It’s no coincidence that the message in the film is about following your dreams, as the film has, in fact, help realize ours. I will forever be grateful for the combined thoughtfulness of Connie, Ellen and Kevin. The miracle is not that I was able to keep my promises to Zack, but in the generousity, kindness and heartfelt compassion that has led to them being fulfilled.
Please join us in this fundraising celebration on March 18th at the Bloor Cinemas, in support of Zack’s Dream Room.
Buy Tickets here… www.elmo4zack.eventbrite.com