Zafer turns 20

Zafer turns 20

20 years ago, I woke up in our old falling down farm house and noticed that my water was breaking.  Exactly on time.   Lyle and I had no a/c but did have plumbing.

The contractions were slow, so we stopped at the 501 diner in Chapel Hill to have a burger, fries and giant milkshake.  I was determined to have a natural birth and my lovely Duala worked with me while Lyle asked if we should play chess to get my mind off the somewhat uncomfortable contractions that started finally.  As midnight approached, the overly tan golfer-type doctor came in and said there was trouble and we had to do a C-section.  At that point, you have no power to negotiate.  So, Z-boy was born at 1.08pm on August 24th.  He weighed 8 pounds 1 oz.  He was beautiful and healthy.

tami lyle hospital

tami pregnant

I loved being pregnant.  My body felt amazing.  My cute Dr. Tyler looked at me in horror on one check up and asked how I had gained 10 pounds in one month.  I said complements of Ben and Jerry, thank you very much.  Zafer and I had a beautiful idyllic autumn together walking in the woods, taking care of chickens, days going by like minutes.  When it was time to go to back to work, I found a caretaker near the office.  I dropped Zafer there and it smelled like cigarette smoke.  I gave my notice and Zafer and I started selling scrap metal art together.  I could take my baby on my hip and I started an art brokerage business with Lyle as my biggest client.  I took 100% of his proceeds, so that worked out well.  Big chess sets, little bugs, colorful metal flowers…looking back, it was so fun, so crazy, never mind we barely had money for diapers.  It was always an adventure going to art shows and creating a new business.

My days are filled with books on coping with the loss of your child, talking and talking and talking with Lyle, the family, friends.  Trying to form a belief system on the fly.
Z burrito

I’m in a constant state of being held up by some of the most amazing people with incredible wisdom and experience.  Just a few examples are:

Hope and Elizabeth take me to the Honeysuckle Teahouse and discuss the spirituality of Z.  We had the most beautiful and hopeful meeting that left me positive and able to get through one more day.  Their stories of how Z has effected them and that they have an ongoing relationship with him even though they have only known him after death.

I go to to Phifer’s 50th birthday party and find myself standing across the table from Carole Guld.  Her beautiful son, Stephen, died at age 21 from complications for chemotherapy 30 years ago.  Carole is an 81 year old, stunning senior Rockette who happened to know my great Aunt Gene who was a radical lesbian.  The two of them were very active in the synagogue.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but she told me later that Phifer, Muzzy and Adair forbid anyone to go near us and we created this intense sacred space (around the food table….unfortunately).  I feel surrounded by a security blanket as everyone just wants us to heal and live.   Carole took my Mom and I to lunch and confirmed many things I’ve learned and also told us things would get better…it would not always be so painful.  Seeing her bright spirit and joy for life kept me going yesterday.

Tim Toben and I had an intense lunch and he looked thoughtful.  “You must talk to my mother and to Bill Peck who lost two of his children.”  Tim lined up a meeting with the deep, lovely, spiritual Carolyn and she talked to me for 3 hours at her retreat center that she, her boys and her husband created.  Her friendship with Thomas Berry was very helpful in her development.  Her words to me about Zafer were incredibly powerful and she told me that absolutely:  “You are entitled to miracles”.  She is right.  I am experiencing miracles every day.
z lyle pool

The visits from the young and the older, the beach getaway from Lexie, the mountain getaway from Dave and Lisa, the words of encouragement keep me and this family going.  Ongoing talks with Frank about an evolving relationship with our dead loved ones and how to keep them close, really close.  Sitting on the porch of Costa Rica with Alisa when I don’t think I can go on….and so many others, so many others helping.  So much gratitude.

Arlo just got back from Outward Bound in Maine.  He was with other teens that have had significant loss and trauma.  He came back a little bit lighter, a lot more wiser and ready to take on life’s challenges.

Z beltie

Today, Zafer turns 20.  We will make pizza, eat cupcakes, have a toast and remember so many good times with him.  We’ll remember his second birthday party in which Lyle and I made his cake, decorated it with his tiny trucks and heavy equipment so it looked like a construction zone.  He woke up from his nap and had a complete meltdown because there was icing on his toy trucks.  We quickly cleaned them off and continued his birthday celebration.

To celebrate Z, please make a toast, make a wish for yourself, and here is a song from one of his playlists….play it loud and dance around the house like no one is watching you.  He would love that.

<p><a href=”″>The O’My’s &quot;My House&quot;</a> from <a href=””>Robby Barnett</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>




About tamischwerin

I run a non-profit (Abundance NC) that builds community resilience including health of the earth, our bodies and our spirits. I also am active in creating an Eco-Industrial Park community in Pittsboro NC.

5 responses »

  1. Feeling the love, sadness, beauty and sense of hope here with you. I will toast Zafer and yours and Lyle’s and family’s continued healing. Much love and support today and all days, Kim


  2. Those photos! I think about how young and innocent you both were, all were. Do you wish you were all back there in those sweet days, never having to know what you know today?


  3. Happy birthday, dear Z. Dancing! With all my soul, I can vouch that the spirits of those no longer walking down the gravel with us, or speaking on the phone, are closer, MUCH closer than they were sometimes, while in corporeal form. I find that deciding to allow, know and rely, welcomes in a permanently broader spectrum of awareness and widens our reality forever. Seemingly a paltry gift, but also an eternal one. Sending love always all days. Here.


  4. Such cute pictures. Happy Birthday Z, now in a place of peace and light and love. Tami and Lyle may you have the gift today of great memories, happy times and many, many more happy days ahead feeling that spiritual connection with Z. much love xx


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