Parent Columns – June 2024

May 7, 2024 | Parent Column

Remembering a loved one

My name is Amanda Ortiz. My son Tommy Santiago Jr aka TJ passed away on August 20,2023.
He passed of pneumonia. He is survived by his parents Amanda Ortiz and Tommy Santiago and sisters Analisse and Elisse Santiago. We miss him dearly.

Submission by Amy Z. Cohen, Ben’s mom

Ben Cap 1 248x300 1


BEN ZIEGELBAUM. Born June 22, 1988. Died April 23, 2006.

Ben died suddenly at age 17.  Unbeknownst to us, Ben had Brugada Syndrome, an arrhythmia, and his first episode was his last.  Ben was a gift out on short-term loan. He was destined to have a short life but a huge impact, with his large and dazzling personality, high intelligence, capacity to love and his sense of humor.  When Ben walked into a room, you were in the presence of a force. His unique take on life made others more aware of being alive.  Energy, Ben believed and wrote, has to go somewhere. And he told us where, when he intoned, “Ben lives in all of us.” When his grandfather died 5 months before Ben died, Ben wrote the poem reproduced here and, during his eulogy for his grandfather, Ben told the assembled mourners that our lives would have been so much less satisfying, so different, if his grandfather had not been a part of them.  And so would ours have been without Ben.  But the stay was too short, and the wound has left a gaping hole.  We are lucky to have known him, even if for only a moment in time.


I found great comfort among my fellow bereaved parents and the staff at COPE and will always be grateful for their support and love, which helped me put one foot in front of the other until I learned how to live again after my beautiful son Ben died so young and unexpectedly.

When The Sun Sets In The Morning

I once knew a man with the gift of the Sun
Who brought light into every room
Warmth into every heart
And burned selflessly
Making sure I was never in the dark

But with the gift of the Sun
Comes the curse of setting
And even though it never seems late enough

Night comes without fail

But the gift of the Sun
Also makes the man wise
And before he passes the hills in the distance
He gathers up all the light he can
And sends it to the moon
And he can set knowing
That even when he is long gone
It is his light that keeps me from darkness

I once knew a man with the gift of the Sun
And I am lucky to have known him.

By Ben Ziegelbaum, Age 17