Blog

September 21, 2015



This is Winky. Or perhaps it’s Blinky or Stinky. Hard to say. These identical triplets live underground at http://zacharyscorner.com. Their favorite thing in the world is playing games with humans. Like hide and seek or wack-a-mole. Zach has been studying them for a long time now. Can you help him discover the other games they enjoy? The updated site blasts off at 9 PM PST tonight!

September 17, 2015



Zach’s been making lots of friends up there. And I want to introduce you to a few of them in the coming days as we countdown to launch of http://zacharyscorner.com! One new friend is this little guy, named FlooZoo. FlooZoo and ZMC became fast friends. Probably because at first glance both seem like sweet, happy-go-lucky kids. But behind the grin, there’s a mischievous side. Both love to hide their precious booger collections all over the Galaxy. And both tell great knock knock jokes about gaseous clouds… Hope you’ll join us in t-minus 3 days at Zachary’s Corner!

August 22, 2015

Zachary Michael Cruz Foundation - News - Frank Cruz Joins Alameda Supervisor to Urge Kids to Walk Safe in Zachary's Memory:

On what would have been his son’s 12th birthday, March 12, 2015, ZMCF director Frank Cruz joined Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson, Safe Routes to Schools, and other local officials at Berkeley Arts Magnet Elementary School to speak with youngsters about safer walking and biking practices…

August 16, 2015

Just a note to let you know that an updated version of Zachary’s personal website is coming soon! [FC]

July 14, 2015

Hello, Pluto! NASA Spacecraft Makes Historic Dwarf Planet Flyby:
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Today would have been a very exciting day for 5-year-old Zach! Before he died, Pluto had recently been downgraded to “dwarf planet” status and Zach knew all about that sad news. He was a budding young astronomer, fascinated by NASA, the universe, and outer space. He had several space t-shirts and wore one in his last year of life that had an image of Pluto on it. The ironic caption read: “Pluto: Never Forget.” Zach didn’t. And today, we see the first pictures in human history of the farthest limit of our solar system. And look what we found: A spectacular heart shaped “feature." 

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They don’t even know what it is yet. But it makes me think of love, and that reminds me of my first born son, Zachary. Take a moment and look at the sky today. Think of how small we are. Think of all the things we still don’t know anything about. The infinite and unknown. I miss you Zachary. I hope you’re a part of that now. [FC]

April 4, 2015



Miles is still young enough to play with some of your old toys. At six and a half, he is just a little older than you were when you died. The last few days, he has been playing with your Bob The Builder tool belt and tool box. We have tried to help Miles build a connection with you through the physical objects you left behind and so we mention to him when he is enjoying a toy or an experience you enjoyed. I think of these things as the artifacts of your life. In important ways, they prove that you were here… This morning, while Miles was playing handy man around the house in his Spiderman pajamas, he shared some of your toys with the little brother you didn’t get to meet, little Frankie, who is just a baby. I took a picture and felt thankful that your brothers can share these artifacts. If you can know this, I hope you find it pleasing. “The sound that’s been keeps echoing, it never disappears.” [Dad]

March 11, 2015



I went to church last night, to celebrate your 12th birthday, which officially arrives tomorrow, March 12th. Well, I didn’t literally go to church. I went to a small, dark, dingy rock and roll club in San Francisco called Bottom of the Hill.

But it might as well have been a Pentecostal meeting the way I shouted and danced and clapped and cried and sweated and sang along to the music of kevinpdevine from Brooklyn, New York. And I did all this without a single glass of whiskey at the show. Who needs whiskey when you’re filled with the holy spirit of rock and roll?

Kevin’s brother, Michael, passed away in the 90s. Kevin talked to me once after we lost you about how hard Michael’s death was for his mom and dad. Incredible empathy. Kevin’s dad also died a few years back. He writes a lot of songs about them. They all remind me of you and my Dad. Sometimes his songs help me understand my own anger and sadness and emptiness. Sometimes they give me hope and provide evidence of beauty and grace and the possibility of redemption. Leaving my church last night, I felt born again. Here are some of the verses from last night that I’m still thinking about today…

“So as I inch towards resolution
I’m not sure which life feels right
The narrow noose or the waiting water
The hanging hex or open eyes
My brother Michael he went one way
And at the fork I heard him say,
‘Don’t you follow, don’t go making my mistakes’
And I realized what he meant
Don’t kill yourself to raise the dead
It never works, you’ll only end up joining them
It never works, you’ll only end up joining them.”

–You’ll Only End Up Joining Them
http://open.spotify.com/track/1FFxD3Jbzd5UDfLzH4iQn4

“So what if the end just ends?
It’s worthless to worry then
To wrestle yourself to death again and again
Now every single time that you open your mouth
Give yourself a breath while you’re working it out
The answer’s in between all the concrete and clouds
It’s anywhere you want, it’s next to you now.”
–Between the Concrete & Clouds http://open.spotify.com/track/6VyNV3PA5szC8SIzbGbAxG

(I hope you’re next to me now.)

xoxo

Dad

February 27, 2015



Now, after six years without you, I don’t have anything more to say. That I love you? That I miss you? That I wonder who you would be if you were here today? All of that is obvious. Redundant to keep repeating day after day as they turn to weeks and months and years. We don’t have new memories. We never will. All I have left of you is the little I have held on to from our short time together. All I have is the past. I’ll take what I can get and I will try to be grateful for it. Like this picture–it’s the last picture we took together. You read me this book on a rainy day in Berkeley. It was the first book you read me all on your own. I cried that day, listening to you struggle through the simple text. I was proud. But you didn’t see me cry. You were focused and determined. I told you good job and your mom took this picture. I’m grateful she did. I hope you can’t see me cry today. Rest in peace. I’ll see you again one day, if I’m lucky… 

xoxo

Dad

(Zachary Michael Cruz, March 12, 2003 - February 27, 2009)

December 18, 2014

A mother named Debbie reached out to me recently. Earlier this year, while walking in a crosswalk in southern California, her 7 year old son Aidan was hit and killed by a motorist. Debbie was crossing the street with her son at the time of the accident. I am sharing this story with you here in hopes that you can spare a moment this busy holiday season to think of Debbie and remember Aidan. Light a candle. Say a prayer. Make a wish that peace will come to her broken heart. Whatever you feel comfortable doing. Then think about your own driving practices. Will you remember Aidan and Zachary the next time you’re behind the wheel or in a car with your friends and family? Starting a conversation about texting and driving, pedestrian right of way, excessive speed, or drinking and driving can help prevent these kinds of tragedies for other families. Please help me raise awareness by liking or sharing this post. And thank you for remembering Zachary and Aidan. [FC]

October 28, 2014

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Today’s photo lyric from OFRENDA is a song written by Bob Dylan called “Ballad for a Friend.” Dylan wrote it in 1963.

When I was a kid, I was obsessed with Bob Dylan. My mom had a few of his greatest hits collections, and I loved them, but she wasn’t deep into it. In high school, when I met Joel Levin of The Briar Rose Ramblers/Far From Kansas, that changed. Joel helped me get deep into Dylan. But before that, Dylan was elusive. Beyond the hits, he remained out of reach to me. You gotta remember, it was a lot harder to get your hands on music back then, unless you had the money to go buy it, which we didn’t.

But I loved the idea of Dylan so much that in junior high I borrowed his “Collected Lyrics” from the public library in Oxnard. I read them the way you read the King James Bible as a kid. You know it’s important but you usually can’t make much sense of it.

I had heard only a handful of the tunes in the giant book, but the words were what really mattered to me. Even just the titles. I remember reading “Ballad for a Friend” in that book, all those years ago. I know I read it because I wrote my own song as a teenager (nothing like Dylan’s) and used his title. My first rock band, 19 Stars (I’ve never been good with band names), played our “Ballad for a Friend” at cafes around Ventura.

Dylan never released “Ballad for a Friend” on any of his studio albums, so for me it only existed as a title in a book in the library in Oxnard that I stole and repurposed for my own ends. But in 2010, a year after Zachary was killed, Dylan’s released “The Witmark Demos: 1962-1964.” It’s a collection of solo acoustic songs he performed as songwriting demos for his publishers to sell to other artists. That was how I first heard “Ballad for a Friend.” Listening to the song for the first time in 2010, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Dylan’s voice, from 1963, telling my story from 2009. Somehow, incredibly, this song, written 20 years before I was born, and 40 years before Zachary was born, had known all along what was to be our fate—my son and me. All that time, our story had just sat there, in a book, in a library in Oxnard, in black and white. Anyone could have read it. Anyone could have known. We just didn’t know what we were supposed to be listening for, I guess. I guess people rarely do.

I went home and learned Dylan’s song right away and taught it to Chris. It was the second song finished for OFRENDA. I made a few minor changes to Dylan’s lyrics, because they felt so personal to me, and they practically wrote themselves while we were recording his song. With apologies, Mr. Dylan. And thanks.

“I had no better friend than he…”

FC

Here’s Dylan’s 1963 version: http://open.spotify.com/track/1gc4XWEz9rCheFyS3cQCEN

Here’s ours: https://soundcloud.com/frankcruzandthenewdeal/ballad

Ofrenda LP: frankcruzandthenewdeal.com

September 10, 2014

Now Accepting Applications for the Zachary Cruz Memorial Scholarship:

Beginning today, through September 30th, we are accepting applications for the 2014-2015 Zachary Cruz Memorial Scholarship at UC Berkeley!

The Scholarship is intended to preserve Zachary’s memory, to reward excellence in public education, and to support UC Berkeley’s commitment to access, equity, and inclusion. 

In 2012, the Zachary Cruz Memorial Scholarship awarded a combined total of $10,000 to five UC Berkeley students. In 2013, the Scholarship awarded $10,000 to four students. Amount of the 2014 award to be determined, but we anticipate the endowment will again meet the historical average.

Review eligibility criteria here.

If you qualify, apply online at http://bit.ly/cruzscholarship2014.

Applications are due by 11:59 PM on Tuesday, September 30th.

Good luck and Go Bears!

August 17, 2014

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Above: Big brother Zachary and his friend on Zach’s 5th birthday (2008). Below: Little brother Miles has birthday pancakes on his 6th birthday (2014).

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Today I am thinking of a conversation I had with Zachary in the kitchen of our apartment in Berkeley in 2009. He asked, “How old will Miles be when I’m 6?” And I said, “He’ll be 1.” “And when I’m 7?” “Two.” And when I’m 8? Three. And it went on and on. I tried to explain to Zach that he would always be 5 years older than his little brother. I even said, “Miles will never be older than you. Because you’re his big brother.”

But I was wrong. Zachary never had a 6th birthday. He lost his life a few weeks before he would have turned 6. And the years went on. Time passes. And today, Miles, the little brother, out grew his big brother Zachary. Miles is 6 today.

And as relieved and happy as I am to be celebrating 6 years with Miles, to have been able to keep him this long, I can’t shake that conversation in the kitchen with Zachary. I know it wasn’t a lie. But it wasn’t to be our truth either. I couldn’t have known. But I was wrong. It’s hard for me to be completely present when the past is all I have left of Zach.

Maybe one day, Miles can read this story. Or I can tell him. One day. Today, I’ll try to be thankful for what I have. And if we talk about Zachary, I will tell another story. I’ll tell Miles how we celebrated every week after Miles was born. Zachary would have ice cream or a cookie. We would top it with a candle. And Zachary would sing happy birthday to his baby brother.

I love you, Miles: Happy birthday. And I will try to do better, Zachary. I’ll try.

Time passes. But not so much.

[FC]

June 16, 2014



(Photo: John Morgan, via Flickr)

Two UC Berkeley Graduate Students, Two Undergraduates Receive the Third Annual Zachary Cruz Memorial Scholarship

The Zachary Michael Cruz Foundation is proud to present the recipients of the Third Annual Zachary Cruz Memorial Scholarship at UC Berkeley. This year’s winners are graduate students Xioranny Grillo and Elizabeth McCoy. Undergraduates Bryan Lira (Music) and Larry McDaniel (Sociology) were selected as honorable mentions. The scholarship winners each received awards of $4,000, while the honorable mention recipients each earned $1,000 awards.

The Foundation is also pleased to report that the endowment, which funds the Zachary Cruz Memorial Scholarship, showed strong returns for the second consecutive year, producing $10,000 in awards for 2013-2014 academic year.

Established with an initial gift from Jodie and Frank Cruz (Class of ’05, MA ’09, PhD in progress), the endowment was created to preserve the memory of their son, Zachary, who was raised a Golden Bear and lost his life in 2009 in an unexpected accident near the UC Berkeley campus at the age of 5 years old.

This year’s co-winners are Xioranny Grillo and Elizabeth McCoy, both graduate students at Berkeley. Xioranny, the student-parent award winner has a young daughter and is a fourth year PhD candidate in Mechanical Science & Engineering from San Mateo, California. According to Xioranny, the scholarship will allow her to pursue her own academic goals while she continues to support underrepresented students in our community: “This scholarship allows me to focus on completing my dissertation while still mentoring minority undergraduate students in science and engineering fields.”

Elizabeth McCoy, from Pittsburg, California, is a first year graduate student working towards a dual degree Masters in Social Welfare/Public Health. She is this year’s transfer student award winner and also the proud mother of two teenaged sons. Elizabeth transferred from Los Medanos Community College to San Francisco State, where she completed her undergraduate work before coming to UC Berkeley for graduate school. Elizabeth reminds us of the heavy debt that many students (to say nothing of student-parents) accrue in order to achieve their academic goals saying, “The financial support provided [by the scholarship] will enable me to avoid going into debt” while at the same time helping to create financial stability for her family this academic year so she can focus on academics.

The Zachary Cruz Memorial Scholarship is an endowed, annual award. A three-person scholarship committee, comprised of members of the Berkeley community (faculty, staff, alumni) and a Foundation representative, evaluate applications and interview finalists before selecting the scholarship recipients.

Two Undergraduates Receive the Third Annual Zachary Cruz Memorial Scholarship

The 2014-2015 scholarship cycle opens fall 2014. For eligibility requirements and more information, please follow us on TwitterFacebook, or visithttp://trsp.berkeley.edu.

Original Post: http://www.zmcfoundation.org/news/2014/6/16/two-uc-berkeley-graduate-students-two-undergraduates-receive.html

June 13, 2014



Frank Cruz and the New Deal: The Ofrenda LP

I want to share this project here because it’s been a huge part of my journey over the last five years as I’ve attempted to learn to live without Zach. If you are interested in learning more, please visit our website, where you can pre-order the album, or Soundcloud, where you can stream tracks for free. As always, thank you for listening… [FC]

In early 2009, while Frank and Chris were in the process of demoing for the next New Deal full-length, real tragedy found the friends. Frank’s 5-year-old son, Zachary, lost his life in an unexpected accident on February 27th, 2009. Over the course of the next few years, while Frank and his family grieved and began the difficult process picking up the pieces in the aftermath of Zachary’s death, Cruz returned to the one thing that had been constant in his life since adolescence: songwriting. In addition to creating a scholarship at UC Berkeley in Zachary’s memory and founding a non-profit organization in his son’s honor, Frank began working on a series of songs to document the new world he was now asked to navigate without his son.

In the winter of 2010, Frank and Chris began work on an LP explicitly and unapologetically for Zachary. Over the course of several difficult years, the friends used the recording process as a space to work through their complex feelings of grief, sadness, and anger, as well as feelings of hope, possibility, and reconciliation in the face of the infinite and unknown. Fortunately, they were not alone in this work. Friends, old and new, who all understood the significance of the project, contributed their talents to The New Deal’s complicated concept album.

The resulting full-length borrows the symbol of an offering for the dead from the Mexican tradition of Día de los Muertos. Titled “Ofrenda,” the album is scheduled for release on limited edition vinyl and digital download on Día de los Muertos 2014 (November 1st). Both haunted and hopeful, the record features honest songwriting and impassioned performances that bear witness to the enduring power of love between a father and son.

More: http://newdealband.tumbr.com

June 10, 2014



Today was 5th grade promotion at Le Conte Elementary School in Berkeley. Zachary attended kindergarten there in 2008-2009, before he was killed. These awesome kids were his friends then and they are still his friends today. They tell me they will never forget him. One girl said, in the mic, during the ceremony, “Today is for Zachary, too.” They reserved a chair for him in the front row with his one and only school picture and some flowers and the audience observed a moment or silence for my son. It was an honor to celebrate these students. It was heartbreaking to look at the empty chair.

FC