The Gift of Music

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Zachary Lawrence Antidormi was only two-and-a-half when his life was tragically and brutally cut short.

His life ended when a mentally ill neighbour stabbed him to death with a kitchen knife in 1997, silencing the gentle boy who loved music from the day he was born. He was rushed to St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, but he could not be saved. Devastated, his parents, Lori Triano-Antidormi and Tony Antidormi, struggled to come to terms with the unimaginable loss.

They felt they could not let the music die.

Zachary had spent many hours of his young life listening, singing and playing along with the recordings of Raffi, the entertainer and songwriter whose music has made him a friend to millions of children and their families. They wanted other children to share in that joy. To honour Zachary and his love of music, a piano recital was held at the Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto. The money raised at the concert was used to help create Zachary’s legacy.

That legacy is now reaching out to children across Canada. In a partnership between Zachary’s family, Troubadour Music and Universal Music Canada, over 2500 Raffi CDs, cassettes, concert videos, and DVDs have been distributed to 18 Children’s Hospitals and Pediatric Health Units from Vancouver to St. John’s, including St. Joseph’s Healthcare.

In accepting the gift for St. Joseph’s, social worker Jody Pereira spoke for many of the staff in the pediatric unit. “Words can never do justice to the emotional roller coaster rides we’ve taken, as we sat in shared sorrow, playing the day over and over in our minds. We’ve all trained for hours for this type of trauma, knowing we work in this crazy environment because we have personal balance and compassion, but slowly, we recognized that we held Zachary closely in our hearts and there was no way he’d leave our memory. He actually shaped the people we’ve become.”

“…I have a four year old daughter, Grace, and I told her I loved the name Zachary and gently told her a story about a boy who was made an angel,” continued Jody. “I told her that every once in a while when I drop her off at school, or head out the door without her, I ask Zachary to watch over her. Without totally freaking her out, I said that Zachary is the angel for all children, and that his love is so big that he can protect her. She hugged my leg, head on my lap, and said with a twinkle in her eye… “is Zachary here right now Mommy?”…my response, was “I don’t know, what do you think?”…and Grace, looking into the trees, replied, “I think he’s in the wind”. And as I felt the wind on my face, I knew he was safe, and I felt good.”

Pereira believes this project is not only a tribute to Zachary, but that it also offers a gift of universal language to children. “No matter what language you speak, what age you are – Raffi will touch the hearts of children. That gift on behalf of Zachary is the greatest gift for the children that live after him.”

Lori Triano-Antidormi is a psychologist, and Tony Antidormi is a social worker. Together they have reached out to other parents in grief and continue to speak about their experiences. “We wanted Zachary’s legacy to be fitting of the young boy that he was and of the things that he loved,” says Tony. “We wanted a living legacy, something that would continue and grow. Music and helping other children and their families is the best way to do that.”

Zachary’s delight in music is now a lasting gift that will be passed on to many others.