Skip to main content


This post is by one the bereaved dads in the Rett’s Roost community, Jon Wall.  Jon participates in the monthly virtual group that Rett’s Roost runs, and has also joined us for a retreat.  He values Rett’s Roost for helping him connect and share with other bereaved parents in those monthly groups. You can learn more about Jon and the nonprofit he helps run with his wife, Jennifer, called Zach’s Bridge, in his bio at the bottom of this post.

Jon and Jenn lost their son Zach at the age of 16 in November 2021, to a form of bone cancer, osteosarcoma. Although he originally wrote this post on January 1, 2024, thinking of the days ahead, he gave us permission to share his insights into the thoughts of a bereaved dad for Father’s Day.

These days I wonder a lot.  I wonder about the future. I wonder about the past. I wonder about the present. What would it be like, what will it be like?

Wonder permeated my brain recently from a social media post that I stumbled across with a poignant quote.  “I’m very concerned that our society is much more interested in information, than wonder.” It was from 1994 from Mr. Rogers, on the Charlie Rose show.  The quote was really about having time to reflect and think, to shut out the noise.

For me once I heard that, I’ve been fixated on the term wonder, because it’s really all I can do right now.  I’ve been off from work the past few days, spending time with Jenn, relaxing, catching up with friends and family and working on a myriad of projects around the house and for our nonprofit, Zach’s Bridge.  I’ve had time this past week to reflect and project, to think and imagine.

In general, outside of this past week I spend so much of my time focusing on information and activity, that when I have the time to really let my mind wander, meander and roam, I always come back to the same thing.

I wonder what the holiday time would be like this year. I wonder what it would have been like last year.  What will it be like next year.? As we see many of Zach’s friends and peers finishing up high school, or having already graduated and moved on, it’s an empty time for us.  I can only wonder what would be going on right now.  I wonder about the struggles, the triumphs, the mundane day to day that he could have faced.

Frequently, that wonder chokes me up for a moment, either with a memory that is stuck in the past, or an open question of the present or future.  I wonder enough to circle repeatedly around the same things.  And sometimes the wonderment blocks my ability to focus on information.  I get distracted with thoughts and visions that aren’t real, that I don’t know if they would even be true.

Zach was making so much progress in his life before he got sick.  I wonder if he would have grabbed the ring and kept on going.  I don’t know what the ring was going to be for him or if he would have been able to grab it.  The ring could have been friendships or relationships, it might not have been college, but it could have been for career that he loved – which clearly had to involve some combination fishing, cars, video games, horses and dogs – there was a glimmer of hope from a future that was at times murky at best.

This week I also stumbled across this picture of Zach. He was 10, at the Flying Horses Carousel on Martha’s Vineyard.  He was just about to grab the ring and get a free ride. Additional pictures show he grabbed it. This picture is 100% where I am, and where I will always be, stuck in the right moment before the ring grab, wondering what would have happened.  I’ll keep going around and around and around, I won’t ever be able to grab the ring, and I certainly will never know if he would have.  I can only wonder.

Let me tell you, when I let it all sink in, and I have time for reality to catch up with me, it’s still exhausting waiting for answers that will never come.  I wonder if Zach would have found a job working on a video game where fish drive cars and race against dogs on horses. I wonder if I’m always going to be in this place, just here wondering what could and would have been.   It sure feels like I will be.  I guess I can only wonder.

Jon Wall is the father of Zach, who passed away at the age of 16 in 2021 from a form of bone cancer, osteosarcoma. He misses Zach every day. With the desire to make the journey easier for families that face childhood cancer, Jon is motivated to honor Zach’s legacy by telling Zach’s story and sharing all the insight he learned from Zach. 

Jon is the Co-Founder and President of Zach’s Bridge (Facebook | Instagram) a nonprofit that helps caregivers facing late stage pediatric cancer get matched with experienced, trained peers for 1:1 support. He serves on the Pediatric Patient and Family Advisory Council (PPFAC) at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and helps lead a support group for pediatric Cancer Dads – Dadcology (which is delivered via Momcology).  Jon and his wife Jenn, speak frequently about childhood cancer, sharing Zach’s Rules for Life with audiences of all sizes. You can contact Jon at