In Loving Memory ….


  • the faculty by which the mind stores and remembers information
  • something remembered from the past


We sat on the curb on the side of the street almost nightly and laughed at things that at the time would make us laugh so hard that we would both start crying. Now, honestly, for the life of me I can’t remember the details of those conversations, I wish I could. But here is what I do remember, I sat on the curb with one of the most kindness, the most funniest, the most genuine, the most loving people I know. Friendship I believe is one of the most important necessities in life. Of course we all need food, water and shelter, but in addition, I believe that each of us needs friends. Actually, we don’t need friends, we need just one friend. Just one true friend I believe can make the biggest, most positive impact in a person’s life. I truly believe this.

Growing up is hard. I remember times when I felt like no one liked me. I felt like I wasn’t pretty enough or popular enough or good enough or smart enough or whatever enough. There was always something for a period of time in my life that made me feel like I wasn’t enough. Aside from feeling like I wasn’t enough, kids, especially girls can be mean, really mean. So when we are growing up and feeling like we aren’t enough and then have mean people around, it’s that one friend we need to be there. It’s that one friend who will get you through. It’s that one friend who will sit there night after night after night and tell you that all these stories you’re telling yourself about how you’re not enough aren’t true. It’s that one friend who will tell you that you’re more than enough. It’s that one friend who will make you laugh when you feel like everyone else just wants to make you cry.

What I also believe to be about friendship is that people come in and out of your life during different times of your life. Yet, as these people come in and out of your life, true friends are our forever friends -even if years pass without seeing each other. I believe this to be true because these types of friends leave a lasting impression in our heart forever. I have been fortunate enough to have several of these types of friends. And with each and every one of them, when time passes without seeing each other,  the moment we are together again it’s like the time hadn’t been between us. These friends are forever friends – these are the friends that I refer to when I say everyone just needs one friend.

When I found out my friend passed away my own heart stopped beating for a moment. The lost of anyone in your life I believe is hard, the lost of a dear friend, a forever friend, I believe is extremely hard. Hearing that a friend has passed is one of those moments in your life that you just don’t forget. Four years later and I can tell you every detail about the day I found out. I remember the weather, what I was wearing, who told me, who I told next, the smell in the air, the feeling of shock and numbness that took over my body and the pit that was in my stomach. I remember the details of this day but can hardly remember the details of those conversations on the curb that made us laugh so hard all those nights. Our memory is an interesting thing.

Today I find myself thinking of this dear friend because today he should be celebrating his 38th birthday. My friend, had a bigger impact on my life then I believe he ever really realized or maybe he knew all along … I’m not sure. But, what I do know, it’s because of this friend that I ended up having the confidence I have. This friend showed me how to be social and to try new things, yet be myself and quiet if I felt like it. He was the one who made me believe that good things happen to good people just the same as bad things happen to good people. This friend hated the quote “when life throws you lemons, make lemonade” … he told me “when life throws you lemons, run for apples and throw them back, apples are harder so can do more damage.” Then said if anyone gets upset with you, “You can always say you were just trying to make apple juice to go with the lemonade.” This friend showed me what being a great, friend looks like and I like to think it’s because of him that I in return have had the pleasure of being a great friend to so many others. It’s because of him that I know that life can end in a moment and that we shouldn’t take things for granted.

The day after his funeral, I wrote this on his Facebook page:

“Had I thought I could say this without crying yesterday, I would have said … Zach was one of the kindness and funniest individuals I know. He had wit, humility and compassion. He is one of those friends that everyone should have, a friend that no matter what, you’re always friends. Zach had a way of making everyone feel special and I think often forgot how special he was. Zach also had a charm about him and the ability to influence people to do things they never thought they’d do. He was optimistic, the glass is half full type of guy – which meant that there was always a joke to be told or a laugh to be had. Zach didn’t care what others thought of him, he was always true to himself and did what he wanted to do. He was friends with people who he wanted to be friends with, no matter what others said. If you were a friend of Zach’s, you are honestly a friend of  his forever! I miss you friend.”

I know first hand that life can get busy. I know there are a million and one things to do everyday between work, the kids or whatever we all do to fill our days. But, here is what I also know (and yet forget) life is short. I mean really short and when it ends, which can happen without notice, the one thing that I know to be true is that you wish for time back to see your dear friend. The wish for just one more night sitting on a curb laughing at whatever it is that makes you laugh. You’ll want one more chance to tell him that you still hold that feeling of happiness from the curb nights close to your heart 20 years later. And, I know on your friend’s birthday you will wish for just one more chance to see your forever friend again and want just one more chance to celebrate him.

May we all experience the love of a true friend throughout our lives. May we all experience this love from multiple friends throughout our lives.

For one of my dearest friends, know that today I miss you and think of you on what should be your 38th birthday.

Thank you, Zach, for being a friend, a great friend, during a part of my life when I really needed a friend like you.

In loving memory of Zachary B. Veldman (June 3, 1977 – February 23, 2011)

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One comment

  1. Jennifer Heath Baxter

    For our Decatur 1995 Alumni Reunion I am trying to find information on people that have past away to make a memorial board and your post came up. So I was wondering if I might be able to use your comments for the memorial board at our reunion this Saturday and Sunday?

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