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Dominic Christopher Zahlis
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Birth: Aug. 11, 1997
Death: Jan. 27, 2008

Our world lost a little bit of hope when Dominic died on Sunday. Only 10 years old, Dominic was a gifted boy with the powerful and unique combination of a huge heart and great mind. He was a caring and thoughtful friend who enjoyed life fully, and had the capacity to change a room with his quiet unexpected jokes and good humor. His amazing imagination and sincerity brought joy to all that knew him. Few have the sense of self that Dominic showed. He knew who he was and what he was about, and didn't let anyone else define him or categorize him. He was a boy with big plans, and our world mourns the loss of someone with the remarkable ability and selfless nature to make a difference.

The tragedy of Dom's death occurred without warning and happened fast, giving none of us time to say goodbye or express to him the depth of our love. Over the course of just a few hours, Dominic was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia and experienced complications that swiftly took his life from us.

His family Andrea and Chris, and their daughters Corinne and Audrey, delighted in Dominic's quirky sense of self and incredibly gentle and loving nature. He leaves behind a tremendous network of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins in California and Maryland. His life touched and changed the remarkable community of friends in our Huntington neighborhood. Through Dominic, we learn that terrible things may happen, but no one suffers alone with such great friends.

We are eternally grateful for the incredible outpouring of support we received from our friends and family. We send special thanks to Kristen, Courtney, and the rest of the Johns Hopkins staff. Although nothing could be done to heal Dominic's broken body, these caring people helped us cope with his passing and begin our healing


Meaning of his Headstone
Tree
Dominic loved to be outdoors, especially under (or in) trees. Our family (Andrea, Chris, Corinne, Audrey) carved our initials into the tree as a reminder that much good still exists in our lives. Dominic is in each of our hearts, and we are together.

Boy reading
Dom was an avid reader. The last book Dom read was "Each Little Bird that Sings," a story about children coping with death and funerals.

Teddy bear
Dom loved his stuffed animals (and electronic pets on his Nintendo DS and various internet sites). If he had found this lovely tree under which to read, he'd undoubtedly have had one of his animal friends beside him.

Balloons
Dom enjoyed balloons. For his 10th birthday party, we filled our basement full of balloons for Dom and his friends to enjoy. At his funeral, Reverend Schacht invited all the children to select from the many ballons around the gravesite. Once gathered together, the kids yelled out a healthy "We love you Dominic" and released the balloons into the brilliant sun. On the headstone, you can see our "missing man" formation, with Dominic's balloon shown in a different color leaving behind the balloons of his parents and sisters.

Sun
Dom was a fan of The Beatles, and "Here Comes the Sun" was a favorite. Upon reflection, I feel the sun best symbolizes the warmth and brightness Dom gave us, and the potential we will never see. He appeared on the horizon with such great promise, but was not given the chance to rise. This is a rising sun, bringing enthusiasm and hope, frozen in time.

Fleur-de-lis
A foundational symbol for the Boy Scouts. Dom was a long-time cub scout and, with the help of his sisters just a few days before he died, Dom made his final decision to bridge into Boy Scout Troop 424 in Savage, MD. At the annual Cub Scout Blue & Gold banquet, he "bridged over" in spirit to the Boy Scouts. Dom's Webelos pack presented him with the Arrow-of-Light award, and Boy Scout Troop 424 presented to our family a beautiful shadow box with Dom's Boy Scout neckerchief, troop patch, and scout patch (a fleur-de-lis).

Sincere Heart - Bright Mind - Kind Spirit
Andrea and I worked through several iterations for the text at the bottom of the memorial, ranging from sad to inspirational. We both felt the need to convey who Dom was so others could remember his contributions to their lives and what might have been. We both strongly prefer to focus on the positive (we could bitch about his loss for days). So we landed on a few key descriptors:

Sincere Heart - above all, Dominic exhibited a sincere appreciation, sensitivity, and protection for the feelings of others. For example, from the many hand-made cards sent to us from his 5th grade class and conversations with other parents, we learned of multiple instances where Dom helped new students adjust to that scary feeling of being the new kid (a skill, by the way, clearly learned from his mom and taken to new levels). What makes us most proud is that Dom didn't do this as a conscious decision because it was the right thing; he was just wired to do this as natural behavior. Dom sincerely cared about people, recognized when others felt insecure or unhappy, and as a matter of inate behavior did what he could to help. As an adult, I wish i possessed his awareness and skills in this area of life.
Bright Mind - Dom was smart...crazy smart. His life goal was to create things that made life better for others. He went so far as stating his desire (and expectation) to cure cancer. He always looked for ways to improve the lives of others, always within his natural inclination to be kind. For example, in 2006 we had work done on our house from which the local mice benefitted greatly. A couple times, Dom and I heard mice scampering between the rafters in our basement. The first night he heard the mice, he immediately sat down to design the proverbial "better mouse trap" in order to effectively rid our home of the mice with more humane treatment of the mice. (knowing his mother's fears and father's tendency to mercilessly beat rodents to death with hard objects). I'm no engineer, but his design made a lot of sense. Cancer didn't stand a chance.
Kind Spirit - This was a play on words, focusing on his kindness-driven life and the possibilty of him returning as a ghost. In reverse order: if Dom returns as a ghost, he'll make Casper look like a gangster. In life, Dom was a spirited boy driven by a genuine kindness to others. He played several sports, was never talented in any, but always cherished team and individual victories - large and small. On the swim team, he complimented others attaining a best time ribbon with honest enthusiasm. In soccer, he complimented one strong play, regardless of the multiple missed opportunities to stick a foot out to participate at even the most minimum level. Again, it's not that he knew to accentuate the positive out of parental training (we get no credit), but rather, he was genuinely excited when others performed well.

 
 
Burial:
Union Cemetery
Burtonsville
Montgomery County
Maryland, USA
 
Created by: Gunnels
Record added: Nov 17, 2012
Find A Grave Memorial# 100839849
Dominic Christopher Zahlis
Added by: Gunnels
 
Dominic Christopher Zahlis
Added by: Gunnels
 
 
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Gone way too young. Heaven gained an angel to watch over us.
- Barry Sherry
 Added: Jan. 28, 2014

- sanmart
 Added: Dec. 15, 2012

- Gunnels
 Added: Nov. 17, 2012
 
 
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