By Dawn Cummings-Duchak

Four years ago, my life turned upside down. Thinking about what happened, I thought I would never survive the tragedy— but I have. Life is different in so many ways, I can smile, laugh and love.

At age 16, I had to place my son Zachary in rehab. Having been to court multiple times when he was younger, I was frustrated each time the judge would give him probation and nothing else. I didn’t want to lose my son to drugs. So I pleaded with the judge, begging for help, but nothing really happened. I was so happy when he decided to start fresh in Phoenix.

On Dec. 11 at 4:00 a.m. I received the call no parent ever wants. I was told my son Zachary was in the hospital and on life support in Flagstaff, at the time I was living in Houston. My parents happened to be visiting me, so my mom and I flew out to Phoenix. On the plane, I heard my son say “It’s all good Madre.” I should have known then.

When we landed and I called the hospital, I was told he didn’t make it. I remember dropping to my knees and screaming. I recall looking up and travelers was coming and going in the airport, smiling and laughing and thought, what’s wrong with these people, didn’t they know my world just stopped?”

My sweet Zachary had committed suicide. When I received the autopsy report, I had to Google the names of the drugs because I didn’t know what most of them were. Zachary had moved to Phoenix with what I hoped to be a new start.

My brother and Zachary had decided to buy a small cabin off the grid and decided to throw their cell phones away, keeping one in case of an emergency.

They lived so far out when my brother called 911 because Zachary had shot himself, an ambulance wasn’t able to get to him. So he was put in the back of a truck, driven down the mountain, put into an ambulance and airlifted to a Flagstaff hospital.

Somehow my mom in her own grief was able to drive us up north. When we arrived at the hospital, I was told I couldn’t see my son because he was taken for autopsy. That was devastating. I asked if they could take me to the room that he passed away in just so I could make sure he wasn’t really there.

I had the opportunity to hold Zachary’s hand one last time. I will never forget the peace on his face.

If you have lost a loved one to suicide, you are not alone. There are resources available to help survivors of suicide loss cope. Learn more at 800-273-8255


Tax news

Did you know?
The Tax Reform that passed in December 2017 will not affect most people’s 2017 tax return due in April. It will affect you for 2018.

If you are expecting a refund for any tax year, you must file a tax return within 3 years or the IRS will keep your refund.

The IRS can collect on back taxes for 10 years from when a tax return is filed. If you don’t file a return, the 10-year statute of limitations never starts.

For more information visit Renee Sieradski, Tax Specialist, 602-687-9768.