Zachary Cruz's memorial includes items the boy loved and Dia de los Muertos offerings

On Tuesday this week, Berkeleyside wrote about how the memorial to Zachary Cruz at the intersection of Derby and Warring had been decorated by stealth knitter Streetcolor. Zachary’s father, Frank Cruz, wrote in with the following letter. Our hearts go out to you Mr Cruz.

Thank you so much for taking time to write about the intersection at Derby and Warring, where my son Zachary was killed on February 27th, 2009. And thank you from the bottom of my heart to [the person behind] Streetcolor. My wife is a crafter herself, and we saw some of her work elsewhere in Berkeley; we even took pictures on Bancroft, having no idea that loving and supportive members of the community had again taken action to honor our son’s spirit at Derby and Warring.

I visited the intersection just yesterday, to add to the ofrenda there, which was started by some of our close friends in the neighborhood. When I arrived with sugar skulls, toy cars, a photo, Zach’s favorite candy, pan de muerto, an unlit candle, and flowers, I was moved to discover that an unnamed artist had honored this spot with her work. I didn’t know her name at the time, but now I’ll remember it for the rest of my life. I know your work would have pleased my son a great deal.

The memorial yesterday. Photos: Tracey Taylor

My family and I visited the site of our first-born son’s death at least once a month during the first 12 months after Zachary’s passing. We would bring toys, flowers, and photos, usually on the 27th of each month in Zachary’s honor. For me, it was a way to show him we weren’t going to forget him. We buried our son in our hometown of Ventura, CA, so it was hard living in the East Bay and not having the option of visiting him when we needed to because of the distance (it’s still hard). So Derby and Warring became the place we went when we needed to grieve in connection to a specific place. That site has become holy to us. The only reason we don’t visit more is because we moved to Oakland after the accident and because there are times when it’s very hard to face the reality of what happened there…

And although you are right to point out we have decorated Derby and Warring less often this year, we haven’t forgotten about Zachary. We started a pedestrian safety and educational philanthropy non-profit organization this year, a new way to honor his memory and help others at the same time. It’s called the Zachary Michael Cruz Foundation and we hope you’ll visit our website and read about our work, which was originally inspired by the kind of love and kindness demonstrated by Streetcolor’s work at the intersection.

The memorial to Zachary is thriving again, because of the recent festival of Dia de los Muertos. Please take a look and feel free to post some new photographs if your readers might be interested in seeing the site now, revived, colorful, and again alive in tribute to my beautiful boy. We will certainly decorate again for the holidays, for the 2nd year anniversary of his death, and for his birthday on March 12, 2011. Zachary would have been 8 next year. I miss him everyday. I hope to honor his memory with our work in his name on pedestrian safety in the Bay Area.

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Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...