Dad-of-two Casey Zager has just endured every parent’s nightmare. His youngest little boy Hank was involved in a terrible tragedy that has changed his family’s life forever.
Content warning: This story discusses the loss of a child.
Casey has taken to social media to share their story, driven by grief and the determination that other parents might take something from his loss.
“Hank turned one 3 weeks ago,” Casey wrote alongside a video of the little boy’s first birthday party. “He passed away last night.”
“At first, we thought he choked on a muffin, but the medical examiner discovered a bean was blocking his airway. Apparently, it just went down the ‘wrong pipe’.”
Casey was CPR certified and he immediately administered first aid to his little boy. The family called 911 straight away. He was conscious and breathing, on the way to hospital within 7 minutes of starting to choke. They did everything right.
But things went very wrong, very quickly, despite the best efforts of hospital staff.
“They fought so hard for 2 hours to keep Hank breathing and his heart beating, but we lost … I’m so thankful for the medical staff and how hard they fought for my boy. ”
“Put first things first”
Casey and his family are obviously enduring an incredibly difficult time, but this lovely dad still wanted to share an important message with others.
“I know this is a really sad thing, and I normally don’t post super personal things on social media, but I want to share something that I have learned,” Casey wrote on Instagram.
“Put first things first. Worry about stuff that matters. Talk to God. Be with people. Be real and vulnerable. Don’t argue over insignificant things.”
“Let things go if you can. Stop getting annoyed by little things. Put your phone down. Look people in the eye. Don’t wish away the time.”
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I think the best way to describe my second go around with this mom thing is: one long exhale of relief. ⠀ ⠀ From day 1, Hank was steady, rhythmic, predictable. I knew him with a confidence I didn’t have when Louie was born and I’m not sure what was more: that he was different or that I was different. ⠀ ⠀ This last year, I’ve grown confident in my mothering. Grown proud of not just what I do, but who I am. Hank might not have been planned, but he was always supposed to be mine. ⠀ ⠀ Hank is sweet, gentle, patient, and crazy about his brother. I had no idea how much my heart could love until it doubled in my love for my children. ⠀ ⠀ Happy first birthday, my son. You are a gift to everyone who knows you. ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ #craftsposure #handmade #makersgonnamake #makersmovement #etsy #etsyseller #shopsmall #etsyshop #handmadeisbetter #flashesofdelight #calledtobecreative #doitfortheprocess #abmcrafty #welcometoweaving #creativelifehappylife #smallbusiness #diy #etsysellersofinstagram #homedecor #maker #etsyfinds #love #shoplocal #craftastherapy #ourmakerlife #instacrochet #yarn #crafts #mompreneurlife #igmotherhood
“It is a privilege”
Casey’s wife Ashton – Hank’s mum – has shared many of her own thoughts on Instagram as she tries to process this terrible loss. She posted some of the words she spoke at Hank’s funeral and thanked those who were supporting the family. She also spoke of how lucky she is to be Hank’s mum.
“Today, I get to be a person standing on this stage honouring my son and it is a privilege. It is a privilege to be his mom. And I can honestly say that there was not a day of his life where I didn’t cherish him.”
“To say that we’ve had a village rise up would be an understatement. We have felt an army surrounding us these past few days. To hold us, carry us, to give to us. To be angry for us. To mourn for us. We are overwhelmed with the outpouring of love. Thank you.”
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Hank turned one 3 weeks ago. He passed away last night. At first, we thought he choked on a muffin, but the medical examiner discovered a bean was blocking his airway. Apparently, it just went down the “wrong pipe.” We tried the hiemlich maneuver, which was covered in my cpr certification. We called 911 and he was in the ambulance headed to the hospital within 7 minutes or so of the initial choking. He was breathing and conscious entering the ambulance. He was breathing and conscious when he arrived at the hospital. Medical staff felt confident they could fix things. Things took a turn for the worse when they put him on medication to relax him in order to get breathing instrument down his throat. They fought so hard for 2 hours to keep hank breathing and his heart beating, but we lost… I’m so thankful for the medical staff and how hard they fought for my boy. I’m so thankful for the community that has wrapped their arms around us. I’m thankful that we have hope in Jesus, who gives life and gives it to the full. I know this is a really sad thing, and I normally don’t post super personal things on social media, but I want to share something that I have learned. Put first things first. Worry about stuff that matters. Talk to God. Be with people. Be real and vulnerable. Don’t argue over insignificant things. Let things go if you can. Stop getting annoyed by little things. Put your phone down. Look people in the eye. Don’t wish away the time.
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I spoke these words at my son’s funeral yesterday. There’s a lot of words so if you don’t have the time, I’d love for you to bookmark it and read it later. Here we go:⠀ ⠀ To say that we’ve had a village rise up would be an understatement. We have felt an army surrounding us these past few days. To hold us, carry us, to give to us. To be angry for us. To mourn for us. We are overwhelmed with the outpouring of love. Thank you. ⠀ ⠀ My pregnancies with the boys were very similar. I puked a lot. I got fat. I kind of hated it. My births were really different but maybe now’s not the time for that. One thing that was different though was that Louie was like a lot of babies where if he was kicking and I pressed my hand on my belly to interact, he’d freeze. Hank would poke back. He was cooperative and loving and gentle and kind. When anticipating a child, you’re pretty sure you’re gonna love them, but I loved how much I liked him too. ⠀ ⠀ I have a few things to say and some of it is kind of round about so stay with me. ⠀ ⠀ When Louie was born, we had him circumcised on his 8th day of life because when the Lord first commanded the Jewish people to get circumcised, he said to do it on the 8th day. The cool thing is that science says that naturally, our vitamin K level, which is what allows blood to clot and create scabs to heal peaks when we are 8 days old. It will never be higher in all our life. Coincidence? I think not. I think we were created by God. Not boomed. Not accidentally or coincidentally. Sewn together with intentionality and purpose. And desire. We have a Creator who makes us. ⠀ ⠀ So when Louie was 8 days old, we honored that area where science and the Bible meet by circumcizing our son. I insisted on going back into the procedure room with both of our sons when we did this. The nurses and doctor and others asked if I was sure I wanted to see it and I said yes. I remember specifically with Louie, my mom telling me I was strong for being willing to witness it and I told her “Mom, I’m his mother. I do not have a right to put my fears first anymore. Now, I get to be whatever they need me to become.”⠀ ⠀ (Continued in comments)
Our thoughts are with this family and their loved ones.