Adam Dzialo

Adam Dzialo
Our son, Adam Dzialo, age 30

Friday, July 19, 2013

July 24, 1998..."If There is a God, He Will Have To Beg You to Forgive Him"*

My dearest son,

       On July 24, 1998 at 1:25 pm, exactly 15 years ago. you drowned.  I have never had the courage to use the word "drown" because of the terror that emanates from the image.  I have always said near-drowning, but the reality is that you did drown, submerged 25 minutes under the waters of a raging river, a foot entrapped in rocks.  Heroic efforts were made to bring you to the surface.  No pulse, no heartbeat, no respiration, just a blue pallor and a peaceful face.  God was asleep, he was absent, he was indifferent, perhaps he never existed.  Yet, you survived; not by any intervention of  divine nature but rather through the remnants of our evolutionary heritage's response to the possibility of drowning , the mammalian diving reflex.  You survived months in Intensive Care - left without speech, the ability to communicate, the ability to move, and a body which gradually froze in spasticity and contracture. You hovered between death and life and eventually chose life.  Everyone pretended to care, at least for awhile.  You were momentarily surrounded by friends, relatives, flowers, balloons and trinkets...for a awhile.  But that was 15 years ago.....
      To this day, I am plagued by images of you being entrapped and enveloped in water.  I am plagued by the terror which filled every cell of your being.  I am plagued by the fear of your impending death.  I am plagued by the image of planning a funeral as I traveled to the trauma center.  I was plagued by the possibility  that you might not make it, that you would be alone...your greatest fear as a child.  I am plagued that you always spoke to me about the need to be cared for, long before the accident.  I am plagued by the unspoken, unacknowledged burden and grief that these events have imposed upon my daughter, Aimee.   I am plagued...wounded, and the wounds can never, ever heal.  Maybe, they should not heal! One never gets over this terror.  For 15 years, I have never eliminated the fear that something can go wrong.  I think and feel the worst; smiling is a rarity for me, even though you, my son, always smile.  The sorrow is chronic and the fear unending.  I never, as a father, yield - always searching for the magic bullet which makes life easier for you.
       But you, son, are alone,   Alone in your fear, your thoughts, your dreams.  You are alone, even as mom and dad passionately and unconditionally care for you every minute of every day for 15 years.  Alone...but, does it have to be so?  Where are those friends, your cousins, your aunts and uncles, your teachers and therapists...all those who should care and reinforce the fact that you are not alone, that you are alive, that your life is worthy?  Why have they run?  Fear, lack of comfort, time and distance, not knowing the words to say. fear of the look in your eyes, my son,  guilt over the lies they told (remember, some said they would be there for however long it takes).  Do they see their souls in your loving and yearning eyes? What stories have they fabricated to justify leaving you alone?  Or is it the evil of human indifference, the "not caring" which renders you only an abstraction.
     July 24 will come and go.  We will celebrate your life and struggle with you.  Will there be a phone call to see if you are still alive?  Will there be cards, flowers, balloons, small tokens of love?  I know one hero who will call, who always calls on that day to say you are never forgotten.  One man, one constant voice in a wilderness and sea of indifference.  There are also a few others of importance and significance who will remember. Yet, your struggle is more meaningful than that of others to whom much is given...but should much not be expected from ?
        I have many questions to ask you?  How intense was the struggle to much fear did you experience? Did you see the other side when you drowned?  Did someone tell you it was not your time? Did someone tell your spirit to return to your body?  How much did you fight?  How much do you remember?  What went through your mind?  Did you see the white light?  Was this side better than that side?  Did you know you would be cared for on this side?  Did you know the intensity your fight would demand of you?  Did you know and believe that  your parents would become warriors for you?  Did you know that your friends and relatives would soon leave?  Did you know that people would be fearful to visit you and to care for you...did you know in that 25 minutes what life would be like and why did you choose this life?  What do you feel about people who have abandoned you, who opposed you in your fight for justice?  Did you forgive them or is that forgiveness for them to find for themselves?  Is there any emotion which evaded your consciousness?  What prompts you to continue the fight on a daily basis?  Someday we will have this conversation...someday I will know and someday I will no longer have to wonder.  And yes, if there is a God, He will need to beg forgiveness from both of us...he was asleep, he was indifferent, he was absent...

       And so we continue, for many years long as life sustains us.  We will continue with care and love to sustain your life.  We will continue with all the therapies and infusions of energy because they support life.  We will appreciate the efforts and energies of those who sustain the flow of that energy.  We will always continue for no reason other than these efforts are WORTHY.  There is no higher tribute to life than to live a worthy life.  To do this because you are my son, because there might be a god and a heaven, because we are linked, debases the reality that we do what we so simply because it is good, it is worthy and that is that sole nature of do good and live a worthy life.


Of course, indifference can be tempting -- more than that, seductive. It is so much easier to look away from victims. It is so much easier to avoid such rude interruptions to our work, our dreams, our hopes. It is, after all, awkward, troublesome, to be involved in another person's pain and despair. Yet, for the person who is indifferent, his or her neighbor are of no consequence. And, therefore, their lives are meaningless. Their hidden or even visible anguish is of no interest. Indifference reduces the other to an abstraction. Elie Weisel, 1999

*“If there is a God, He will have to beg my forgiveness.” — A phrase that was carved on the walls of a concentration camp cell during WWII by a Jewish prisoner (Mauthausen camp).


  1. The first man

    There is a bridge which forms, strangely I stand,
    The sparkle of rushing water pummeling the sky
    Where the duress of a child who has become a man
    As he dies without asking for a reason why.

    Lo, behold I am lowly and have begotten naught,
    Multiple scars of midnight scurry across my brow
    But my soul as a beacon through waters darkly wrought
    Stirs a feeling where life will not escape me now.

    There is a bridge that spans a river bed
    Where terror has shrunken all, to weep.
    Under a strong current with you I fled,
    I stole my life, forever to keep.

  2. Thank you so much, Eric. Your poetry always resonates with my soul and captures a lifetime in a few words. You have represented my son's life and spirit so preciously. Thank you....

  3. I have few words to help sooth the pain of life's unexplained cruelties. Your eloquent and heart wrenching letter along with Eric's beautiful prose epitomise the struggle. What I did feel was the inexplicable love of a father who is so worthy of that title. Why we must constantly be let down by other's ambivalence of someone who is so worthy will never make sense to me. You will never falter and Adam knows that. Nothing else really matters anyway. You must not beat yourself up over what has been. Just keep focussing on how good a future you can make.

  4. Thank you, Marcelle...long time no hear. Your words of encouragement and light are always appreciated and honored. I hope all is well with you and with your children!

  5. Again, I read your words as if they were coming from my own heart. Many relatives of ours have commented that I am overly dramatic about the abandonment I feel for my daughter. For example, they don't see that when they plan gatherings at places that are inaccessible it is a very real abandoning of a person who only wants to be included and loved; a child who wants to be with her cousins and aunts and uncles but who has precious few opportunity to do so.
    People who say things like, "I wish I could do more", I feel, know that they could indeed do more, they just choose not to because it would require a little bit of effort.

    Our lives are not envied by many but we move forward because we love our children and want to do what is right and moral. You are one who stands out within our community and I am honored to know you.

  6. Again, I read your words as if they come from my own heart. Relatives of mine have commented that I am overly dramatic about the abandonment that I feel for my daughter. They don't realize that when they plan a birthday party at a place that is inaccessible, for example, that it is a very real abandonment of a person who only wants to be included and loved; a child who enjoys being with her cousins and aunts and uncles and has precious few opportunities to do so.
    I feel that people who say things like, "I wish I could do more" know that they could indeed do more but choose not to because it would require a bit more effort on their part.
    Our lives are not envied by many but we do what we do because we love our children. You are an individual who stands out in our community and I am honored to know you.

  7. Well, Melissa, your words of experience ressonate so very clearly with our experience. I feel so very deeply for our kids and am so sad that they are not a part of every sacred familial experience that they, more so than others, are necessary for their validation. We do move forward because it is right. I send you my appreciation for your comments, for sharing your experiences and I hope life is always good. It's amazing how many of us share common experience.

  8. I don't want to say anything, but just be quiet, as if it were twilight, as if I were in a silent crowd gathered for a vigil, holding candles against darkness.

  9. Thank you, Andrea, and I will be there with you in silence with a bright warmest wishes...

  10. As I read your letter Phil, the sidebar of recent viewings popped up in the periphery of my eyes...little flags waving and locations demarcated...I always get annoyed at such techno-overloading of distractions to my attention, which was wanting to be fully on your piece...then I realized how many, from all over the world
    were linked in and somehow connected...and then
    as I read
    and tears came to my eyes
    weeping for the unresolved
    and anguish
    the haunting questions posed
    Adam's face came with a quizzical look:
    "Is he still thinking God is separate?"
    was the question......
    I sat stunned hearing the words of this innocent zen sword before me

    and then,
    in my own mind this appeared:
    What if Adam came, this happened, because he, in his soul's evolution knows God so deep in him, knows that God is not separate,. Knows that there IS NO GOD THAT TURNED AWAY. That he is trying to show his parents that?. That the connection, not what we want, but what IS.
    Wanting it to be otherwise contributes to the complex pain already in motion?
    Your human heart is seared & scarred beyond comprehension.
    The blame is another matter not needing to be woven into the vast pain.
    I love you, and I hear the raw & devastating pain.
    It hurts .

    it doesn't.

    there is no blame.

    no wanting.

    until it is
    reduced and dissolved to what
    it already is: LOVE.

    ~from my heart
    in loving respect

  11. Thanks, Terri, for your ability to put into perspective that which is often lacking. I appreciate your insight, honesty and especially your ability to to take me (us) to that next place of consciousness...a place that is often easy to slip away from. On target, once again,,,,with the deepest appreciation!

  12. thank you Phil & SHaron...for receiving
    and transforming
    and gettin' on that jet plane with me
    and Adam to the next level of consciousness

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  14. Wow. My son went into a coma from his vaccines and I often whisper the same quote. I wonder if we will ever know... I wonder if we can find their voices someday. You are a good father. Very beautiful..


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