Both sides of the story
The charismatic Zach remained upbeat throughout all his misery, and Sobiech often blogged about the strength her faith provided.
In retrospect, she worried that they might have created the impression that the family was floating along on a wave of perpetual bliss when, in fact, it faced many moments that threatened to tear it apart.
“I think people need to hear this,” she said. “It’s easy to look at our family through what people see in our public face and think, ‘Well, they’re a perfect family; of course they’re going to be OK.’ We’re not.”
But, she wondered, would reliving that pain help or hurt her family?
One of the most difficult situations involved Zach’s older sister, Alli, who was engaged. As Zach’s health made its final turn for the worse, the family realized that there was a chance he would die on her wedding day. They went so far as to draw up a contingency plan on how to deal with it if that happened.
“It was a time of her life when it should have been about her,” Sobiech said of Alli. “Planning her wedding — I worked hard on that with her, but I also was concentrating on Zach. You just can’t do it all. And there was so much guilt mingled with it for her, the joy of her looking forward to getting married paralleling with Zach dying.”
Sobiech decided that telling about the trying times was important for other families facing similar challenges.
“People need to see that, too,” she said. “They need to see the messes that happen behind the scenes. And that’s where the hope comes from, because you see a family that wrestled with this and they got through it.”
Quick turnaround time
Sobiech, 44, and her husband of 24 years, Rob, tell anyone who asks that they have four children: “One married, one in college, one in high school and one in heaven.”
Having blogged throughout Zach’s illness, she was approached about writing a book just a month after he died. “I really liked having an outlet, and I knew I wanted to carry that on,” she said.
But she had only 12 weeks until the publisher wanted the finished manuscript, so she worked on the book 10 to 14 hours a day.
“And that made me feel guilty because it was taking even more time away from my family,” she said.
In the end, she feels that it was worth it. The tight deadline “forced me to sit down and put it all down before I started forgetting.”
The people around Sobiech are glad that she did it, too.
“I was really happy to hear that Laura was writing a book,” said Dan Seeman, VP/marketing manager for Hubbard Radio and the person who led the push for Zach to make the professional studio version of “Clouds” that eventually went viral.
“Zach had such grace, such wisdom beyond his years, and when I met Rob and Laura, I realized where that came from,” he said. “She’s very eloquent, very open. I knew she could tell the story in a way that was both honest and interesting.”