Tagged by: Clouds

ALWAYS! – Derrick Atkinson’s Tribute to Zach Sobiech


This week, I have been blessed with the opportunity to participate in Laura Sobiech’s Fly A Little Higher Blog Tour. Zach’s battle with osteosarcoma was not one he fought alone; rather, it brought his family together as a united front. ‘Family’ does not just consist of mother and fathers, brothers and sisters. Family is comprised of those to whom we connect within our community – our church groups, organizations, social networks and schools (to name a few). From a small town in Minnesota, Zach Sobiech created a global family together through his music. He took the encouragement he received from his parents and close friends to change the world. His faith in God, positive outlook on life and incredible smile brought joy to many of us…and continues to inspire us all to Fly A Little Higher.

When I first learned about this Blog Tour a couple of weeks ago, I reflected on Zach’s story and asked him for guidance through meditation. How could I fly higher? While reflecting on the themes in Laura’s book, I was reminded of a conversation I had last year with my friend, Debbi McCarthy, about a family in Bishopville, South Carolina that overcame tragedy through music. “Up for a road trip?” were the next words out of my mouth and off we went to document this amazing family.

It is Roy and Sally Atkinson’s love and encouragement that has created an instrument, The Washtar, for the purpose of expression that is bettering the lives of those with special needs. It is the amazing warmth and genuine smile of Derrick Atkinson that tugs at the heartstrings when you meet him. Meeting Derrick has changed my life and I hope that in watching this video you can see that, like Zach, he doesn’t let his struggles impact his attitude or his desire to positively influence those around him. He lives his life to the fullest of his abilities, making him someone I admire…another true hero.

Please watch to the very end. I think you will enjoy the after-credit footage that gives you some insights into Derrick’s character and spirit. He just “plain makes me smile.” Looks like the Low Country is rubbin’ off on me!

This week, I have been blessed with the opportunity to participate in Laura Sobiech’s Fly A Little Higher Blog Tour. Zac...

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Fly A Little Higher…The Blog Tour

zach sobiech

Last year, on May 20th, I wrote about Zach Sobiech who lost his battle with osteosarcoma at age 18. Zach didn’t go quietly. He left the world with a musical gift called Clouds which hit #1 on the charts the week he died. Laura Sobiech, Zach’s mother, just released her memoir of Zach’s journey yesterday. The book, Fly A Little Higher, is written from her perspective as she deals with her own emotions and prepares for her son’s death. Grab your copy HERE

Laura asked that I be part of her Blog Tour, which is celebrating the release of Fly A Little Higher this week. I am honored to be a part of such a wonderful launch, and am grateful that, in some small way, I can participate in being part of Zach’s legacy.

As I read the book, I found myself relating to Laura, imagining that I would have similar struggles and questions if I had to walk the same path with my son. Laura turned to God and asked that out of this tragedy, Zach’s death could mean something…something big. She encouraged Zach to write letters to his family, but that wasn’t his style. Rather, he wrote songs to communicate his feelings and encourage his loved ones to stay positive and make each day meaningful. I believe that her encouragement was an integral part of his musical legacy. As parents, we influence our children because we believe their potential as limitless.

When I first heard Clouds, I connected to it instantly, playing it over and over again. I loved the lighthearted pings from the glockenspiel, the sense of rising and falling with the lyrics, the clear message about faith in God and the refreshing innocence in Zach’s voice. It made me question my own legacy and how I could follow in Zach’s footsteps by creating something big. It made me reflect upon what is important to me.

I can’t play an instrument (except the air guitar and kazoo) or carry a tune (as proven in many late night karaoke attempts); however, attending concerts, remembering lyrics, introducing others to the meaning of songs and supporting the arts has always been part of my passion. Zach shared something very personal with the world and has encouraged me to “fly a little higher” and share my very personal ‘Ultimate Mix Tape’ playlist. Each song is a favorite because it reminds me of a moment or inspires me with its meaning. Clouds is one of the few songs on my playlist that contains both elements. ‘Ultimate Mix Tape’ Playlist

I hope that you get to know me a little better through these songs and their stories. If you discover a new favorite of your own as a result of exploring this list, then my heart will smile. I encourage each of you to create your own playlist. What a wonderful gift to give your friends and family. Please, take your time compiling your list; mine took DAYS. Revisiting various times in my life and listening to many old favorites brought back so many raw emotions. I laughed, cried and even blushed. Thank you, Zach, for leading by example and encouraging me to “Fly A Little Higher” as well.

Last year, on May 20th, I wrote about Zach Sobiech who lost his battle with osteosarcoma at age 18. Zach didn't go quiet...

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RIP Zach Sobiech. See You in the Clouds!

“I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now…From up and down, and still somehow…It’s cloud illusions, I recall…I really don’t know clouds at all.” -Joni Mitchell

I have always been a huge fan of Joni Mitchell, but one song stands out to me as truly special, Both Sides Now. It talks about clouds, love and life, each of which has offered ups & downs, gives & takes and wins & losses. She looks back upon life and realizes that the same optimistic wonder that she had as a child has left her with confusion about their meaning and purpose as an adult.

Today, as we watch the devastation caused by the tornadoes in Oklahoma, we may not notice the passing of a young man in Minnesota whose life gave some clarity to Joni Mitchell’s search for answers. Today, the world lost an amazing young man, 18 year-old Zach Sobiech, to osteosarcoma. Zach fought the fight for four years and was recently told that he only had a few months to live.

His mother suggested that he write letters to his family members, but he knew that wasn’t his strong suit, so instead he picked up a guitar and began to write songs to express himself. The first song he wrote, Clouds, offered his family answers and comfort about his hope to meet up with them again someday. He saw the same ups & downs, but chose to focus on the positive. Throughout the journey, he chose to smile and be grateful for what he had. He left his family with a gift through his music and now we can all enjoy the message he left behind. A message of gratitude, hope and Jenerosity.

Maybe if Joni Mitchell fell down the same “dark and lonely hole” Zach fell down, she would have risen “up, up, up” and seen the nicer view from the clouds above. He seemed to understand love and life.

Let’s enjoy that we all have a little more time and give a little more…

You can donate here to the Zach Sobiech Osteosarcoma Fund.

See Zach’s video here


"I've looked at clouds from both sides now...From up and down, and still somehow...It's cloud illusions, I recall...I re...

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